Rooting Around – Part 2

[This is part 2 of the 4 part short story Rooting Around, you may want to read Part 1 if you haven’t already]

Sean dragged himself up through the hatch and into the attic. He stood up and found the light switch. He’d only been up here once before, but he’d already worked out that it was a really stupid idea of whoever it was to put the light switch up so high that you couldn’t reach it from the ladder. It was bad enough coming up the ladder, but going back down in the dark was particularly hair-raising.

What this room needed was a particularly good clean. That’s what Sean would have done if he was keeping any of this stuff, but this stuff was all going to be loaded into the back of Sean’s car and taken to the dump. He’d get all of the stuff out and then he could work out how to clean this space. He turned around slowly trying to take in the sheer amount of stuff that was here. How many trips to the dump would it take? 10? 20? Far too many was what he decided.

He looked at the floor and realised that it was completely covered in dust and grime. He shifted one pile of boxes to one of the clear spaces and saw, as he had hoped, that the floor under the boxes was relatively clean. He climbed over some of the boxes and sat in the clean space he had made. It was like he was in the kind of fort that he used to build as a child. It felt relatively safe and reassuring. Since he’d moved into the house he’d never really seemed to be able to fill it enough. He’d always thought that this sensation wasn’t really anything to do with the amount of stuff that had turned out to be Jen’s so he hadn’t been able to take with him, and that it was more about there not being another person there. The silence of somewhere empty is deafening. It’s partly the way they aren’t speaking but it’s partly the way that you know as you return home each time that everything will be in exactly the same place as you left it. When he was living with Jen he had resented the fact that she kept moving everything, now he knew that he missed it.

But maybe there was more to the amount of stuff side of things. There were, after all, some rather strange spots in some of the rooms downstairs. There was an empty room that really looked like there should be a dining table in it. And in the living room the fact that there was only a tv and a single-seater arm chair certainly hinted at being alone. But, Sean thought as he settled in up here between the boxes, here for the first time he felt safe.

The light from the florescent bulb was creating a shaft of light that fell just a few feet in front of Sean, and as he looked through it he could see all of the dust particles dancing through it. He watched them fly in every direction and it was very peaceful. Something truly distracting. He let out a giant sigh as he slightly decompressed, letting go of a very small part of the stress that he’d been carrying in between his shoulder blades for the past few months. As he exhaled all of the particles of dust sped up, and moved in different directions. And he watched as they slowly came back to their normal non-interrupted pattern and fell again as they had before he had disturbed them. He was very tired, he hadn’t been sleeping well at all, and now as he looked at all of this around him he started to feel very sleepy. His eyes slightly lost their focus, but then something suddenly snapped them back, and he was suddenly wide awake.

Just beyond the shaft of light, the box just beyond it, had written on the side of it, in professionally printed lettering – “Time Machine”.

[Tune in for Part 3 next Friday.]

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