“What about the blue crates?”, I asked him.
“Crates? Which crates? There’s nothing left up here. Did you get everything from the basement?”
I felt my stomach starting to tie up in knots. This was not good, not good at all. I didn’t want to admit it, but I immediately knew that my things were lost forever; my record collection, my good speakers, my cute little vintage bags. Irreplacable. Gone.
My ex looked down at me from the attic, signalising that he was coming down. He balanced on the chair’s back rest with one foot, placed the other one down on the seat, leaving a dirty footstep on the black leather. Well down, he brushed off the dirt, but his eyes caught my puzzled little face. In my head, I was already calculating the damage. At the moment I wasn’t sure if it my mistake of leaving my belongings there would cost me more in euros or in mental anguish.
“I really don’t know what you mean. If they’re not in the basement, then I don’t know where they are.”
“Are you sure? They were milk crates, blue ones. About this big”, I said and drew the shape of the crates in the air with my hands. “There were at least ten of them, if not fifteen.”
His eyes said “no”, and I knew that I couldn’t ask him again. I knew him well enough to know that our talk was over. I could sense him getting annoyed for me asking, as fifteen identical crates full of things simply can’t be misplaced or forgotten in a flat. Especially not one this size.
I was here to finally pick up my belongings. After the breakup, my things in the flat had slowly found their way to the flat’s basement, the attic and nooks around his shop next door’s. My biggest worry was that nothing in the basement had been packed to be stored like that, so I was fully prepared for that some things would just have to be thrown out directly. I was less prepared for finding out that half of my things were missing. Presumably stolen from the basement.
I looked at my phone. The van would be here in fifteen minutes, and my friends too. He gave me the keys and suggested that I’d do one more round to double check if I wanted to.
“If I’m in the bath when you leave, just chuck them through the mail slot.” He gave me a big, long hug, his woollen jumper brushing against me cheek. It was newly washed and the smell of detergent mixed with the homely smell of him that I knew so well. “I feel really sick, so I need to get some rest. Let’s not let this be the last time we see each other, ok?”
“Ok”, I said looking down, tears in my eyes.
He left trough the shop door and I held my breath and waited. When I heard the door slam next door, I finally let myself breath. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”, I thought to myself. “Why on earth would I let my things be here for so long?” I took a deep breath and decided to do one more desperate stroll around the place. Attic, nope. Storage, nothing. Creepy basement, no, nada. The rest of my stuff was lined up in front of both entrance doors. Chairs, table, a few crates and bags. That was it.
It was long overdue to collect what was mine, to let his space be his again. We needed closure on several levels. I looked at my phone again. Five to seven. I went outside to check for the van, and as I opened the door, I was met by my friend’s sweet smile in the dark and cold street. There was snow and sadness in the air.
“Are you ready?”, she asked, rubbing her hands together as she was eager to start.
Her happy face made me grin from ear to ear as well. “Yes. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have fewer things than I remembered, so I’m more than ready. Let’s get this over with.”