CHILDHOOD REMINISCENTS by Zahra Kasem

On the shelf 

The dust settles as I sit on top of the cabinet, my new found place. I stare down at the bed that we used to lie, where we shared laughs and tears. An empty glass on the bedside table, and my little girl, my beautiful little girl, she’s still, as if she was asleep. I stare at her and the silence that hauntingly echos the room, Her door plastered in happy childhood photos lies shut. I beg for it to open and for the hall way light to come pouring onto the carpet floor. It doesn’t. It never does. 

I stare at her, the long curls that delicately cover the pillow on the bed that has grown as she has. I remember back to when we first met. When we were introduced. Her gurgles and babbles that made little sense but always made me smile. I was always her favourite, she would refuse to go anywhere without me. We were a team, I’d support her though colds and flus and nightmares and restless nights. We were like two peas in a pod, inseparable, as we were often told. 

The light from the hall glimmers under the door as I hear the creak of the floor boards. I stay silent, pleading for the door to open, it doesn’t. I sigh. The small lights from under the door reminds me of those little lights that she’d hang all over her bedroom, turning the big light off she’d lie on the floor and tell me all about the stars. The little lights became her favourite thing, we’d have picnics and tea parties from under every night sky without leaving her little room. We met kings and queens from made up lands that always left her in fits of giggles. 

I miss those days, before it started to change. She would keep me on the bed, but we didn’t have tea parties anymore. Then she would stay over with friends, she took me once or twice on these adventures. Then she stopped, we were no longer inseparable, she’d leave me on that bed, the big bed she’s lying on now. I stare at her, wishing she didn’t move me up to the shelf. Longing to hear her heart beat. Longing to feel her warm breath. Longing to be next to her.

I stare at her, her chest moves up and down steadily slowing like water as it reaches a lake. My precious little girl. Her nail polish chipped fingers stay still. I remember the first time she wore that nail polish, it was dark, like nothing else I’d ever seen. Different from those pinks and purples that consumed so much time drying onto her little nails. It was the black nail polish at first. Then the red dye that stained the sink of her bathroom. Then the loud music of heavy guitars and voices that’d scream their pain from her phone speakers. She’d pretend she was all grown up but she’d still lie with me on her bed. Holding me close. 

Her skin lies exposed, like an outfit that covers her from the world. I feel a gentle draft flow into the room, an eye flutters open then close. Her makeup is painted on like a costume, a perfect disguise. She insisted on covering it, skin and scars alike. I remember the first time she did it, she was so scared and I was left unable to look as she muttered in pain. She left the sink stained red but this time it wasn’t dye. I watched quietly from my newly elected spot on the shelf. She cried after that and once again I was put back onto her bed. I comforted her as she cried, tears spilling out of her eyes. She cried for the both of us. 

I think back to all our days we spent together, loud voices downstairs that would never end, days on the beach that would end too soon, seasons that changed too fast and moments that wouldn’t past quick enough. Our entire lives that intertwined so tightly together they practically became one. Every up and down we experienced together, I sit still without her with me, without her besides me. Her little breaths of air grow shorter and shorter, inevitably coming to a stop. I watch her as she opens her eyes. 

Her scarred arm reaches for the lamp also on her bedside table, knocking over the empty packets onto the floor. Her saddened eyes look over to me, we stare at one another, her brown eyes glimmer at the quiet lamplight, they’re filled with loss and despair like always, hidden behind her plastered on smile. The little light that used to gleam through her entire body that made everyone smile. She throws off the blanket that covered her body like a shield and she sits up on the bed. We don’t lose eye contact. She stays transfixed at me and I her. 

She stands up and stumbles towards me carefully she grabs me off of the shelf and she holds me close. Our bodies meet as she pulls me closer into her, she sniffs me and smiles. This time it isn’t fake like so many times before, it is as honest a smile as that of a toddler. She whispers in my ear and starts to cry as we sit on the bed again. Her breath grows weaker and I can feel it slow, she blinks longer than her eyes stay open. I beg that she calls for someone as her grip around me weakens, I feel her slipping from me as I am from her grasp. She shouts one word before closing her eyes and falling back onto the bed. 

I lie there, grasped in her arms like I’d wanted, waiting for her to be found. To be saved. It’s quiet and I beg to hear the sound of door brushing open against the cold carpet floor, to see the light hit the top of the walls where the now broken little lights hang. The door finally opens and a wail begins to shake the house. Crying as we are shaken and other figures begin to enter the room as chaos begins to drown the cool atmosphere that once existed. 

I watch as she is carried off towards help. Out of the room by strangers that do not care for her as I do. I get roughly picked up and knocked back onto the shelf. Surrounded by an empty room I watch the spot where we lay still and peaceful, where we always lay. I now sit quietly as a toy must, alone on my shelf.