Like a century old tree, Hank Garrison and his family had deep roots in this community.  When he had moved back last year, he’d staked his claim.  Megan envied that sense of permanence.  However, her trip to Cape Hudson, like all the ones she’d made as a kid, would be short lived.  Though she would be here about a year, eventually the winds would shift and she’d move on.

Megan looked around the room feeling overwhelmed and wishing a stiff breeze would blow her to a place where she fit.  “Scurry on then, the sooner we dive into this the sooner we’ll be done.”

“If you return at six and can’t find us, send in a search party.  We’ve no doubt been swallowed up by a mountain of magazines,” Lucy said.

Rick glanced toward Meghan and again she felt an annoying heat rise up her body.  “Will do.”

“Thanks, Rick,” Lucy said.

Megan looked up from a stack of papers.  “Thank you, Rick.”

“Any time,” he said.  He left and the front door closed.

“Whatever history is in this room doesn’t compare to whatever was between you two,” Lucy said.

Megan shook her head.  “It’s not what you think.”

Lucy grabbed a box and set it beside the desk.  “Maybe not for you.”

“He was Scott’s best friend.  I was engaged to Scott.  That’s all we have in the way of a connection.”

Megan lifted a scrimshaw paperweight from the desk.  Engraved in the yellowed ivory was a blue bird, its wings extended as if caught in a gust of wind.  The bird on the ivory mirrored the one Lucy had tattooed on her wrist.  She had said she and her mother had gotten matching tattoos and she’d assumed her mother chose the bird because it was a symbol of freedom.

Megan placed it in the “Keep” box.  She touched a stack of papers on the desk.  “The desk alone is going to take days.”

Lucy lifted a stack of Time magazines that dated back to the eighties.  “My mother saved a lot of stuff that didn’t make any sense to me.  When I cleaned out her apartment after she died it took me days.”

“There’s a lot of history in this room.  At least let us get through this desk without a dumpster.  This was the heart of your grandfather’s life and if there is something he’d have wanted you to have, it would be here.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“Why are you afraid?” Megan asked.

“My mother left this house and this town when she was eighteen and pregnant.  There had to be a very good reason.”

“I thought that had to do with your birth father.”

Lucy shook her head.  “This town rallies around its own and Beth was one of them.  Samuel was her father.  He should have protected her.”

“I’ll be very careful as I go through all this.  If there is anything to be discovered, I’ll find it.”

Megan leafed through a magazine dating back to March of 1971.  A receipt fell out and she carefully inspected it before placing it to the side.

Lucy set the trash box by Meghan.  “I didn’t mean for this to be an archeology dig, Megan.  We don’t have the time to scrutinize every receipt.”

“It’s history.”

Lucy glanced at the receipt.  “That receipt is for groceries.”

“From 1971  Have you looked at these prices?”

Lucy picked up the receipt and tossed it in the trash box and then took the next magazine and quickly thumbed through it before tossing it.  “I’ll give you until four and then I’m getting my gasoline can and match.”

Megan removed the magazine and put it in the “Donate” box.  “The library will want that.”

“We can’t save it all.”

“But we can’t have a scorched earth policy either.”  She yanked open a side drawer and found it was crammed with stuff.

Lucy pulled the drawer out the remainder of the way and carried it to the front porch.

“What are you doing?”

“Sorting faster.”  She dumped the packed drawer onto the porch deck and began to sort.  Paperclips, rubber band balls, gum, glue, old batteries…all went in the trash.  There were birthday cards for a girl turning nine, sixteen and twelve that had never been filled and thank you notes that remained untouched.  The ballpoint pens had all dried out though she did find an ink pen with a silver case that could be saved with a new ink cartridge, though God only knew when she would find the initiative to find one of those.  Still she tossed it in the “Keep” box.  In five minutes she returned, her drawer empty and feeling like a small victory had been won.

She worked the drawer back into the desk.  “I’m ready for the next.”

“There’s no way you did that so fast,” Megan said.

“My grandfather and my mother were hoarders, Megan.  Just because something is saved, or old for that matter, doesn’t mean it’s valuable.  I’m sure George Washington had a trash pit.”

© Mary Burton 2019

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