• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 12

Beware the Emptying

Every living person is allocated a sizeless, infinite box.

Boxes bulge weighty with knick-knacks and once-loved trinkets. They brim with many forgotten things that belong to the fickle, the frivolous, the mindless or the decadently rich.

Forgotten is lost – as if it never were.

Everything previous, broken or unremembered accumulates in an unnamed pile of waste. Memory thieves wade in and sift through, choosing snippets, emptying our minds to fill the boxes. Zipping like shrapnel through cracks in time, the stuff falls. Crashing out of consciousness into the boxes, that fill the space between us.

Losses vary: childhood memories of outgrown toys, catapults, yo-yos, and comics. Others are experiences, vapid with no tangible physicality: empty dreams and desires. Or nightmares that rattle. Niggling worries: their bared teeth and gaping mouths, trapped and hungry in a limitless darkness. Happenings: revisited over drinks. Details of years, resisting the fire of synaptic connectivity, like phantoms in a deep sleep, until nudged to haunt us. And then, one day, they disappear forever.

The memory thieves are singular beings, nifty, shadowless and silent. They write inventories and label everything ever forgotten. Creeping through time, they squeeze stuff into the realm of the beyond. Their job is to catalogue the void. Human possessions flushed out of the foreseeable present and ultimately out of use.

After moving house our crates sat in tidy unopened towers. Their excavation regularly relegated to the holidays, pushed to the bottom of an invisible to-do list. Crates dusted superficially, their contents a substance from before.


Beware the Emptying

Matters that mattered, then didn't, allocated for recycling. A dimension echoing extinction rebellion's commentary on toxic plastic: frippery, Barbie, Tonka, the waste that forms precarious landfill mountains.

Time shoots its arrow through work, pregnancies, commitments, and anniversaries until a new generation of babies are graduating from their studies to face the thrills and mundanity of work. The boxes grow. Baby-grows, summer clothes, winter coats. Hand-me-downs, never touched. Youngsters with adult lives; caterpillars to butterflies; empty nest loneliness. Our house fills randomly as our lives expand with modernity: DBS certificates, updated passports, awards and hospital letters. Bathroom, kitchen and garden gadgets accumulate.

Memory thieves could not separate things from people and inevitably I was next.

I'd fallen apart. Added to an over fifty-fives misogynistic employment scrap heap, for post-menopausal mutton. Consumed by food and sleep. Legless yet teetotal. Navigation was impossible without a destination. A routine fog eroded my life. Too afraid to move, to leave, I ignored warning bells, text and phone.

They stole me in pieces. My mind, my head detached from my limbs, my arms, my memories and all those things unique. In a pile of unnamed waste, I'd joined the lost and broken, a desert of a place. No fear, no action, no response. The memory thieves had robbed me of my life. I’d fallen through the nick in time, into my box.