EVERYTHING I WAS
by Corinne Demas
They dismantled my brass canopy bed and carried it out, a man in front and a man in back. Another moving man, fat, with a red beard, grabbed my bean bag chair and lugged it away. I closed my eyes for a minute, and imagined that when I opened them my room would look right again, the way I had always known it, with the furniture where it belonged, the curtains on the windows, and my posters on the walls. But it didn’t work. My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall. The two men came back for the mattress, and the one with the red beard hoisted two liquor-store boxes, piled one on top of the other.
No sooner had he asked than the bottom of one box split open and a pile of magazines gushed out over the floor. My mom was coming into the room at just that moment.
“I told you to get rid of those,” she said. “We’re not paying for storage in Manhattan so you can keep old magazines.”
“Throw them out, then,” I cried. “Throw out everything of mine.”
I went out on the terrace and looked out over the city—a view I knew by heart, but might never see exactly this way again. I shut my eyes again and held them shut. When I opened them, the view was there, untouched.
It was sunny on the terrace, but cool. I sat on the tile floor, out of the wind. The wrought iron furniture had been sold at auction, along with the rugs and antiques, but the wooden planters were still there, a few sprigs of weeds growing bravely in the dirt. Since we knew we were going to be leaving, there hadn't seemed much point in planting pansies and petunias this spring.
After a while my dad came out on the terrace and sat beside me. His legs were so long his feet nearly touched the other side.
“Your mother’s directing operations quite well without my help,” he said. “I thought I’d best keep out of the way.”
I leaned back against the warm brick wall and looked up at the sky.
My dad leaned back, too.
“This is just a temporary move, sweetheart,” he said. “A retrenching. I’ll get another job, we’ll get our finances under control, and everything will work out OK.”
“We’re never coming back to this apartment, though, are we?”
“No, not here,” he said. “We’ll find something not so expensive, but something nice,” he added.
“Am I going back to my school?”
“I’m not sure,” he said.
“I don’t want to go back if I have to be on scholarship,” I said. “It’s awful, having everyone know.”
“No one would know.”
“They’ll know,” I said.
One of the movers stuck his head out onto the terrace.
“We taking anything from out here?”
“No,” my dad said. “Nothing here to take.”
The terrace door closed hard.
“I’m sorry about all this sweetheart,” my dad said. “You can’t imagine how sorry I am.”
He lifted his arm and put it around me. His hand cupped my shoulder and he pulled me gently against him. But even though I wanted to lean in against him, I didn’t let myself. I sat up as straight as I could and studied the railing of the terrace. It was only after he got up and went back inside the apartment that I sank forward, pressed my face against my knees, and let myself cry.