"Never Worn (New Without Tags)" by Madeline "Maddie" Ward
I need this stuff out of the house. I lay it all out on the carpet. My hands shake as I take the pictures of each item with the digital camera. That’s going on eBay too. I’ve unwrapped all the presents. Makes it look less suspicious.
With each click of the camera, I feel this overwhelming guilt. These should be gifts under the Christmas tree. I can’t sell it as a lot. Buyers would get suspicious. They want to know why you don’t want it. What is wrong with it? Was it stolen? No one needs a guilty conscience this time of year.
There are eleven Christmas presents in total. I should be writing a syllabus for next semester but instead I’m opening up an account on EBay. My class was canceled. Someone with tenure will teach them. We all do desperate things in desperate times.
One of my colleagues used to say that the academic mind retreats into work when tragedy strikes. When his wife died, he buried himself in work. Wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning thesis on the War of 1812.
For some reason, I keep coming back to Hemingway. For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. I used to say that was my favorite story at parties because it’s one I could remember. It was by Hemingway, so it was literary. It was short and witty. It could have such a deep meaning or no meaning at all.
I can’t take them back to the stores. I won’t put myself through that. FAO Schwarz, Nintendo World, The Disney Store, Macy’s on West 34th, I went all over town for them.
I didn’t keep any of the receipts. I was so convinced with my purchases that I wouldn’t need them. I got everything on the lists. I did it all right. I stare at the blank text box on my laptop screen. I don’t know what to put. So on eBay I just say, like new. No one really wants to read about other people’s tragedies this time of year. What they have to do to survive.
No one needs to hear why we aren’t having Christmas this year.
I watch as the pictures load. There’s the remote control fire truck he would have been playing with on Christmas morning. Jamie was going to be a fireman, like he told me so often. I remember the smile when I took him to the Firefighters Museum in New York on my day off.
There’s the light up, talking Panda Bear he wanted. There’s the gameboys I would have had to buy a hundred more games and useless accessories for. I got one in red for him and one in pink for Alyssa.
I took pictures of the four separate Broadway show tickets, just for proof. They are the hot shows so they will sell fast. Alyssa was going to be the next Twyla Tharp. I always thought that was funny. She doesn’t want to be a ballerina. She wants to teach dancers and choreograph every move they made. There’s also the Hannah Montana iPod she begged me to get her with Hello Kitty headphones.
It will be real when it’s all sold.
On Tuesday I had three children. Today is Sunday and I have one son. I let Marcus my brother take them home from the reunion. We were all going to come back to my place. They wanted to be in the car with Uncle Marc. It was a head on collision.
It wasn’t Marc’s fault.
It was the other driver. He was drunk. The words that are the beginning of many ends.
I wanted to kill him myself. How can anyone be so irresponsible? Given time I will forgive him. I will be the better person in this.
Last is her gloves, took three department stores to find the right ones. Macy’s had them. We were going to go back for the Santa pictures. I’m crying again. I can barely do this. I don’t know how I am going to clean out their rooms. I think I am going to hire some charity to haul it all away.
My wife wanted to take it all to the Salvation Army, even the Christmas gifts. I said I would take the new bikes there tomorrow. The rest needs batteries to work. She still is at my mother-in-law’s with the baby. She doesn’t need to see this.
Girl’s leopard print gloves, I type. New without tags, never worn.