When we sorted out the pieces of clothing in the bag we were putting into the charity bin -- it was too late to sort them properly -- too late to do more than check the inevitable, as I'd said -- I saw that our daughter was dumping the gray skirt with the bright red lining that I had worn for my grade three ballet exam -- that and the muslin apron, with its three or four rows of zigzag applique -- two pieces of clothing, or at least dress ups, that our daughter couldn't have fitted into for so many years -- and you said to me, then, as soon as I described what they were, that I could take them out of the bag if I wanted to. But I said no.
As we walked away from the bin, I told you that years ago I had realised, too late, that she had dumped a couple of tiny rubber dolls that my mother had played with before the second world war, and how distressed I had been to realise this -- how it still distresses me -- even now as I write, and for no reason that I can fathom -- but still, all the same, that I had known I should send the skirt and the apron into the chute -- what else was I to do with them? -- that if this part of me had its way, I would be buried under the profusion, under the mountain of useless objects that connected me to my past -- so completely buried I would not be able to move -- that I had a horror of this burial, even as I had a horror of the loss, of the gaping wound from the place where each of these objects had been torn from me, these wounds that will never heal, no matter than it has been years since, unknowingly, I had cast those small rubber dolls into a similar bin.
But, as you had seen, I said, when I had come across the piece of crushed blue velvet that my mother's childless and wheezing childhood friend had given me at the door of my grandmother's place, when they had both been alive -- this piece of useless velvet that I have never known what to do with and that was squeaky to touch, not even very nice -- I had removed it from the bag -- the red lined ballet skirt and apron going into the bin but the velvet staying out and having to be carried home. There being no sense to any of this, I told you -- will I even be glad about what I have done today? -- and you: as you usually do, you said it was up to me.