You left me on the arm of the couch, sprinkled with glass. I did not hear you leave, my senses blurred, inundated by the chink-chink-chinks of shattering rage. Never before had I felt such fear. It shook me thoroughly. Before I could gather myself together, a barrage of heavy-footed men robed in black stormed through the house. I cowered in her shadow as the questions came, wave after wave, each time the shining flashlights blinding her, searching for the answers she would not give. How did she remain so calm, so aloof from the previous events? They did not believe her, their penetrating eyes boring into her, seeking the truth behind her story. She did not falter; and laughing quietly with a feigned embarrassment, she answered each officer in the same soft voice. The bare skin of her thigh brushed against me. I closed my eyes and exhaled. Did she know I was here, a silent witness to the event? That I would have testified if I had the voice, but would have remained silent with one glance and one whisper? I waited to ask my own questions, biding my time as the last pair of boots exited the front door. An uneasy emptiness settled around us. Her fingers found my sleeve. I sighed at the touch, collapsing into her hands. Gently yet deliberately, she picked me up. The violent remains were carefully brushed from my navy fleece before I was folded neatly and carried into her room. She moved quickly, tucking me away into a dark, crowded drawer. She knew I would be safe from him. The drawer shut and there was silence. I closed my eyes and thought of you. A multitude of emotions flooded over me. How could you forget me? How could you leave me? Why didn’t you come back for me? Would I ever see you again? Would I again feel the warmth of your skin? My life seemed a blur of faded memories and shattered glass. I longed to be with you, securely wrapped around your body in the quiet safety of your presence. And now I was hidden and alone in the dark. Had we parted for good?
In the dark, I sat and waited.
The drawer opened, jarring me into consciousness. Harsh light shocked my senses. How long had I been a prisoner in that dark drawer of despair, strangled by pantyhose and crowded by socks? How many days had I been passed over, yearning for more than a brush of her fingertips as she searched for a missing article of clothing? Today she chose me, plucking me from the dismal depression. I was stuffed into an encapsulating bag of plastic where I joined a pair of jeans. They sat silently, ignorant of my presence. I struggled to breathe in the bag’s stifling heat. Where were we going? To you? Or perhaps you were coming for me? My heart soared on hope’s wings. To be worn by you again…. The sensation overwhelmed me so much that I could only sigh and fall back against the crisp jeans. I laid about in a gluttonous daze, my mind thick with thoughts of you and our reunion. Soon, I told myself, soon I would see you again. I anticipated your first touch, my worn fleece clenched in your firm grasp, your fingers lingering for a moment before I was casually tossed into the seat beside you. Our bond unspoken but strong. Time crept by but soon never came. The jeans departed, never to return. Alone, I drifted into a dreamless sleep. Hours later, the bag stirred. Soft hands roused me from a listless slumber. Her face had changed from the last time you had seen her, yet her smiling lips contradicted her glassy eyes. I came undone and warm arms filled my sleeves. I embraced her body. It was different. Her arms were longer than I was used to and I had to stretch to cover her slender wrists. Her hair enveloped me, tickling my collar. She smelled sweet and clean. It was different. It was nice. Before I could settle around her body, I was unzipped and removed. I braced myself, ready to return to my plastic prison. Instead, she brought me to her nose and inhaled deeply. She spoke, but I could not make out what was said, her warm voice muffled against my blue fleece. A sigh escaped me. We remained together for an eternal moment, cheek to cheek in the fading sunshine, before she carefully folded me up and tucked me under her arm. We rode home, me nestled in her lap.
The bliss was not long shared. Into another bag I went. For my own protection, she whispered. The bag was crowded with new clothing. Two shirts eyed me cautiously. They were crisp, fresh, and unfriendly. I kept to myself, wondering if this would be my new life – hidden away in drawers and bags between stolen moments of rapture. We were tossed on the couch, an arm’s reach away from where you and she ensconced yourselves in ignorant elation days earlier. Voices filled the air and one by one, all of the new clothing left the bag. Only I remained. Peering through the top of the bag, I saw him. I froze. Although he smiled, all I could see were wild, white eyes and foaming mouth. Memories of Friday night came flooding back to me and I pressed myself down, away from discovery. The new clothes were discarded, heaped upon me. I gasped for air, laden down by their weight. A hand, different from hers, found me and pulled me from the pile. A small boy stared at me for a moment, then dropped me before running off. I laid on the cold wooden floor, panting, looking up at the pile of clothes as they stared at me with cold eyes. I was not one of them. I was not wanted. How could you leave me to this existence? Why hadn’t you come for me?
Footsteps returned. This time it was her. Her fingers were always delicate with me. Always gentle. How could I not love her? She was not you, but she needed me. And I realized that I needed her. Up from the floor I went, not to the pile of clothes, not to the white bag, not to the dark drawer. She pulled back her blankets and I went where you never had. The sheets were cool and refreshing. I sighed and closed my eyes, resting my head beneath her pillow.
That night, after the house had fallen into a quiet slumber, she found me in the darkness. Her fingers wrapped around me, pulling me close to her face, her breath moist. We slept together in a deep embrace, both alone and longing for you.
Thoughts of you came less often, and only when I laid against her warm, soft skin did you come to mind. I wondered if I would be rejoined with you. Your smell was faint. . . fading.
I do not know how many nights we spent together. I cannot count the days we shared. I fell into her morning routine, assisted with her daily chores, and joined her on errands. I received her children’s messy fingers and runny noses along with the scents and splatters from evening meals. I was the silent third wheel on her dates with him, her gym partner, and evenings knitting in bed. You were gone. Your scent was no longer. She often spoke of returning me to you, but we both knew that the words she spoke were false. I found myself glad to be chosen in the morning, and pained to be discarded when I was no longer fit for wearing. I accompanied her on vacation, where she laughed more than she had ever laughed, and spoke flippantly about our last night. One would have thought her cold and emotionless, but I knew her well. I alone comforted her on those cold lonely nights. I brushed away her tears. And as the weeks passed into months, I found myself in the hamper more often, along with the other favorites.