It was the very last box. He wasn’t even sure of where it had been all of this time. He didn’t even know where it had been when he’d moved as he couldn’t recall moving it with the rest of what little he had owned at that point. It was a simple box, not really the type where you’d put up things when you move, it was closer to a shoe-box in size with removable top and all. He’d found it under his bed while he’d been looking for his glasses.
He couldn’t even understand how his glasses had ended up rolling almost to the middle of his bed, glasses weren’t mean to roll and he was nowhere near a hill, the floor was flat and even so why, oh why had his glasses rolled all the way there? In a way, he was glad they had as he found that box. The old box, that used, worn box.
With careful fingers curled about it, not even recalling how heavy or not it might be, he pulled it out from under his bed. He didn’t move from his spot, merely shifted his weight until he was sitting with his back against his bedside table. There were no knobs to press into his back so he rested his weight back and set the box on his lap.
He knew what was in there, or at least he told himself he knew. It was so old, so small. The bottom edges were taped because it had been rough days until it had somehow landed under his bed. He didn’t recall that being there when Eoghan had dropped by with all that new furniture and he couldn’t understand it. He tried not to think too much on that one particular point since it would be too problematic, he knew he wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t make sense of it unless he asked Eoghan and he didn’t really see the point.
Fingers trembling, he pulled the top up and off, setting it carefully down next to his legs. He looked into the box, trying to will his mind to understand what he was looking at but all he saw was crinkled newspaper. Had he mistaken this old box for another one?
He reached for the newspaper, assuming it would come easily as empty but crinkled newspaper does but it didn’t. His fingertips brushed something solid beneath the paper and he frowned. Now he was even more confused, he didn’t know what to make of this very box.
Patting along the paper, he felt out the shape of whatever was in it. After a few moments, his fingers found something that felt like a stem and he lifted whatever it was from there. With his other hand, he carefully unwrapped whatever it was.
With all the paper gone and pulled away, Armin found himself staring at one of a pair of crystal cups. His eyes grew wet as his mind pulled the memory associated with them to the surface and his breath caught. He recalled having looked at them, standing next to Andoni. They had been window shopping, just looking at whatever caught their eyes and these cups had caught his eyes.
He had laughingly said that they’d make a beautiful anniversary gift but that they were a little beyond what his salary could afford, what either of their salary could afford, really. They had walked on. He didn’t know when Andoni might have gone back to get them but he assumed they might have been intended for their anniversary. A moment lost as the accident happened just a few days before the day they would have celebrated.
“You must have wrapped them up this way and put them in our photo shoe-box, expecting me to find them.” He paused, his voice choked up as he set the first cup down and just as carefully pulled the second one out and unwrapped it. “We always brought the box out on our anniversaries to look at old photos.”
From inside the second cup, there was a note and Armin stared at it from within the crystal for a long moment, not daring to take it or look at it. He felt overwhelmed, emotions filling him from all sides, not all of them positive. He suddenly ached, a terrible ache as he remembered that he had lost the one man he had loved more than anything else in the world.
He knew he couldn’t remain holding onto the past, he had done such good progress over the weeks, the months. The sight of these cups and that unread note however made it all surface.
Armin gulped in great gasps of air as the tears broke through his weak hold. He cried, sobbed really.
He cried himself into an exhausted stated of numbness. Finally, he reached for the note, his fingers trembling all the harder. Once he had it between two fingers, he put the cup back in the box and set the box down on the ground, next to his legs. He opened the note, his blurry sight barely managing to read the words though he could tell what they were and his breathing hitched again.
There were no tears this time, he was empty of tears. His throat felt raw from all his gasping to draw in air while he’d been crying, his chest ached and so did his head. He folded the note closed again, brought it to his lips to kiss it and then set it down next to the two cups, settled in the box. One upside down, the other right side up, fitting side by side perfectly.
“What am I supposed to do with the two of you? I know I can’t just display you, not yet, the wound still feels too fresh despite that it’s been years. If I’d found you sooner, maybe I could set you out to display you.” He murmured the words, closing his eyes. He ached, everything ached and he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about it though he knew he had few tears left in his body at that point.
He reached for the box, curling his fingers about it carefully. He moved it up on the bed and pushed it as far as he could from his position on the floor.
With that done, he eased himself back up to his feet. He ached in ways he couldn’t recall aching before, as if all those tears had pulled old wounds to the surface.
Rubbing his eyes, he took the box up again and carefully he made his way off into his study. He would sit it there for the time being, not really wanting to focus on it more than he had to. It was set down gently on his desk and he smiled at the box and all the memories it contained, a sad sort of smile before he shook his head and turned away. He didn’t really want to think on it much more. He’d bring it up to Eoghan when the man next visited.
Feeling exhaustion despite that he knew it was all emotional and not exactly physical, Armin eased his way back into his bedroom. He set his crutch out of the way as he always did and he climbed into his bed. He didn’t waste much time moving to settle under his cool blankets, aware that they would warm up before too long and help him with the chill his exhausted mind wanted him to believe he felt.
His eyes fluttering shut, he breathed in and out, calmly. Trying as he could, he cleared his mind of everything and tried to imagine he was floating in water. That usually was the one thing that helped him the most in regaining his mental and emotional footing.
Before long, his mind drifted off, sleep claiming him without asking for anything in return. It could only do as it was meant to, after all and all Armin wanted was sleep.