the things we leave behind
by gabrielle cole

My grandparents often leave their front door wide open, in the hopes that even the slightest of breezes will provide relief from the sweltering Jamaica sun. If you go inside, you’ll come across my grandfather’s study. There are books stacked high in the corner, old volumes of Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables, the spines falling apart and pages yellowed by the sun. He has a few copies of his own poetry books as well, which I have tried to read and failed miserably to understand. Next to them sits a table cluttered by papers, some scribbled on and some not, and a cup filled to the brim with pens and pencils. 

On the other side of the room there is a desk with a laptop and a lamp. Above these there are pigs—glass pigs, plastic pigs, porcelain pigs—green pigs, blue pigs, pink pigs. They sit in a neat row, organized from largest to smallest. No one knows where they came from, just that he has collected them over the years, and no matter where they come from they always end up there. 

Although there are no children in the house anymore, the shelving unit by the door holds children’s toys—a bear on a ball that rolls back and forth, and a truck with a fixed smile whose eyes follow you across the room. They were my mother’s, who moved away from home over two decades ago, a piece of her forever tethered to the corner of her father’s study. 

I leave things in my home too—origami boxes and stuffed animals stored in the basement—even a copy of Nancy Drew that my mother won in school, her childlike handwriting memorialized on the inside cover, swiped from my grandfather’s study. Time is flat, the passing of it means nothing and everything to me. 

 

All there is are the things we leave behind.