I snuck into our room and opened the bottom drawer of Tom’s bedside drawers. The one he shut quickly if I ever went in to the room. The one he wouldn’t let me look in. The one he wouldn’t tell me what was in it. I don’t know what I expected to find… a photo of his mistress, love letters, some lingerie … he had been acting strangely the past couple of weeks, a bit distant, a bit odd. But I found nothing like that. I did find a photo, well a collection of photos, but of his old band master. I found a number of photos of the band master conducting the band, a program of his funeral, an old reference letter he had written for Tom, newspaper clippings, a hand written piece of music. Here I was thinking that Tom had a secret mistress, a lover, that he was cheating on me but alas I found a shrine. A shrine to the person who had had such a significant impact on Tom, more than I had ever realised. I pulled the drawer carefully out and went and sat it on the coffee table in the lounge room. Then I waited for Tom to come home.
Tom arrived home a few hours later. He walked into the lounge room and saw the drawer on the table. His face went crimson, and he went to grab the drawer, but I stopped him.
“Why is this hidden in the bottom drawer? Why do you always hide this when I come in to your room?” I asked.
“It’s nothing, just stuff.” He grunted.
“It’s not just stuff. It is important to you. He is important to you. You don’t have to hide the memories in the bottom drawer, you know.”
“Yeah, but nobody understands the bond we had. He was like a grandfather to me. But everyone thinks I am silly, keeping all that stuff.”
“I don’t think you are silly. I think it is beautiful that you have kept all of these memories.”
“I know he meant a lot to you. A lot more than I ever realised. So let’s celebrate his life and find somewhere else to put these items. We need to make a spot for you to display it. It means so much to you. He meant so much to you.”
A few more tears formed and rolled down Tom’s cheek. This time he didn’t wipe them away. I went over and gave him a hug.
He handed me the funeral program out of the drawer. I wasn’t sure why but as I scanned over the front I worked it out. Tomorrow was the ten year anniversary of the death of his band master. Things started falling in to place. I knew why he was so quiet after band rehearsals the past few weeks, why he spent so much time looking through the contents of the drawer, why he had been so distant of late. He was still mourning the loss of his band master, and it was especially raw now, ten years on. It almost broke my heart to see the love,mixed with sorrow, in Tom’s eyes. The heartache of missing someone he respected so much, someone he held in such high esteem, someone he spent every day trying to be like- his idol, his hero.
Story written for the writing workshop group exercise 4. Partially true, partially fictitious. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.