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In the Attic

Page 3

Even so my mother and I were engaged in an ongoing struggle - I wanted something from her that she would not give me. At least that's how I saw it. All these years I've carried a feeling that a part of me was missing, that I was not complete.

It took many years to identify what I came to call 'the hole' inside of me. I managed my life by being busy. I'm a kindergarten teacher and I love my work. But there's always been this feeling of emptiness, of loss. I believed my mother could help me understand, but she refused. She simply refused. When I broached the subject she became tight lipped. When I asked her questions about the past she froze. Sometimes I felt angry, especially as she got older and time was running out. For the last years of her life she was ill and I gave up. She only spoke about how much she was suffering.

It was a few months after she died that I had the dream.

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I hurry, I’m shaking with anticipation to reach the attic. I open the black trunk, old and rusted but still intact. There are neat piles of paper, yellowed newspapers, collections of cuttings. I lift the embroidered doilies ringed with lace, sheaves of coloured felt, tiny moth holes around the edges, even old turbans and hoods from the early days of the store, separated with layers of tissue paper.  Under all this I find the photograph album. I sit down on the low stool. Slowly I turn the pages. Page after page. I see the two babies, a girl and a boy, twins. I see the two toddlers. They look so alike, are dressed alike. I see we both have identical fair curls, identical dark eyes. When we smile for the camera our cheeks pucker in just the same way. We hold hands for the camera. We pose.

After the war there is only my mother and me. We do not hold hands. Neither of us smile. Our cheeks do not pucker.

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