”Now this drawer is for writing supplies, this one’s for Barbie clothes, and this one’s for the Barbies themselves,” Marcie slowly explained to her 8 year old daughter, Rachel.
”Marcie Ann, shouldn’t we tell her that the thin drawer, right under her desk, is for stationary?” Frances interrupted.
”Yes, Mother, I was just getting to that. Now, Rachel-“
”I heard Grandma, Mom; it’s for stationary.”
”Oh,” Marcie looked slightly put out. “Well, here you have it.” She swept her hands about her young daughter’s room, with tidy drawers, and desk surfaces so clean; they shined as if from their own glow. The floor was so spotless, too, that the three of them noticed how ugly the clumpy, brown carpeting really was.
”Now Grandma and I took a lot of time out of her visit to clean your room. You better keep it orderly now.”
”Yes, ma’am,” Rachel mumbled. She was already showing signs of her future introverted lifestyle; for example, she didn’t like grownups coming into her room, critiquing it, and then changing everything around.
She wondered how long it would take for these drawers to become haphazard and over-flown, for the desktops to become cluttered, for the ugly carpet to be hidden once more. Rachel lived a dangerous lifestyle, one she’d be forced later in life to admit as both lazy and unorganized. She just couldn’t bear to throw anything away. What if these childish stories and top-grade reports had impeccable value in the future- value tying her back to her past, so she could see who she was and therefore, who she is.
Marcie hauled the final trashcan onto the corner by her house. She spoke to Frances, who was smoking in the cool, evening air. “Why would she keep such useless junk? They’re broken seashells, for G-d’s sake, and Rachel won’t think of throwing them away.”
”I don’t know why you’re giving it this much thought, Marcie Ann,” Frances said, blowing a steam of hazy smoke out from her mouth. “You just threw them away. Why can’t you leave it at that? Let her do her own thing”
”Like you did with me?” There was a sudden, bitter note in Marcie’s voice. “Oh, great plan, Mother. Look how I turned out.”
Frances snorted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
”Oh no, of course you don’t.” Marcie slammed the lid down on the trashcan. “Never gave me any words of encouragement- to go to med school- instead I end up here-” she threw her arms up into the air. “An occupational therapy professor at the crappiest university in the state!”
Frances took another puff of her cigarette, face blank.
Marcie let her body relax, and put a smile on her face. “But who’s complaining? I have the sweetest husband, and the best daughters anyone could ask for. Just wish I could get Rachel to stop collecting trash!”
Frances dropped her cigarette, stamping it out with her foot. “Let’s go inside, shall we? It’s getting as cold as ice out here.”
Marcie nodded and the mother and daughter made their way to the house. From behind the shadows of the trashcans, a pair of pale blue eyes looked upon the prison, keeping her treasures captive, and heard the rumble of the trash truck on the road.