The night at the end of Christmas is always hoarse and muffled. My mother fell asleep during “Notting Hill,” which was one of her gifts. Because Monique was there, the overflowing trash got immediately evicted. We still had lights, wreaths, and a poinsettia on the mantle, but the shiny paper and ribbons were out. Next to the Christmas tree, I sat watching the end of a “Cosby Show” rerun. That was fine, but “Friends” followed, so I turned off the TV. With that monster asleep, the Christmas tree’s lights reflected in the window burst back at me. I reached over to unplug them. Now I could turn to the real view: the unlit presence of the frozen lake. Only four lights peered from the other shore.
I knew the entrance to the attic was in the garage, which meant I should be out of my parents’ hearing. In the unheated garage, my breath showed. I yanked on a dangling rope, and a ladder flopped down.
Up there, I found lots of cardboard boxes, some Rubbermaid containers, a few giant yellow garbage bags, a broken chair, an abandoned coffee table with a glass top, a lamp with its neck snapped. I looked through the labeled boxes: Summer, Summer Clothes, Lake, Jerry Kindergarten, Jerry 1st, Misc, Misc, David K-3. I pulled David K-3 out from the bottom of a pile and opened its flaps.
A stack of worksheets, paintings, and Mother’s Day cards. I had successfully matched various animals to their respective homes: bird to nest, frog to lillypad, dog to doghouse. This earned me a sticker of gold and yellow stars. I had practiced an enormous flock of Ds, which was good, since I’d need both an upper- and a lower-case one for my name.
But I couldn’t feel my fingertips, suddenly. They were fat and dumb. Maybe I’d find a box marked “Kids’ Books” tomorrow. Where else would the Pinnochio book be? It was mine.