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What they Found in the Attic


Stuffed lions, giraffes, elephants and hard-plastic dolls with terrifying blue eyes; oil lamps; tarnished silverware; tea sets sealed in plastic; baseball cards in cookie tins; a chest full of National Geographic issues; three bean bags (one with a hole in it that spilled the stuffing everywhere); a tricycle that Molly stared at for three minutes solid as if in fear of the memories it might unlock, its Snoopy horn still attached; a copy of Wilson's Anatomy; seven boxes of Christmas ornaments; two sewing machines (one electric, one not electric); a six-foot-tall nylon zip-closet full of winter coats not worn since the stock market was at 10,000; believe it or not, not a single spare television set (they sold them all); empty spice jars from an unused set; luggage that had never left the country, filled with newspapers; issues of newspapers they thought would turn out to be historic, but instead had become yellow and brittle (and what's a newspaper anyway?); pairs of ice skates and roller blades and roller skates; a knock-off tiffany lamp; a box of picture frames; a box of baby clothes and patent leather shoes; certificates from first communions and confirmations and stepping-up ceremonies from kindergarten to first grade; torn-up grammar textbooks; notebooks and more notebooks filled with stories and physics notes and journal entries composed almost entirely of sighs and doodles; plastic easter eggs and plastic shamrocks and American flag hats (really, festive-wear for every holiday of any denomination); cake tins; cookie cutters; Lionel train sets and books about trains; matchbox cars that were out of fashion even when they were bought; toy helicopters with bent rotors; lawn-care manuals; almanacs from the Eighties; AAA Trip Tiks to Upstate New York and New England and Montreal; ticket stubs; Playbills; shoeboxes of photographs with the negatives still in the box; one single roll of pennies (not collectible coins, just regular pennies); books on how to clean "just about anything" and how to fix "just about anything"; love notes that hadn't seen open air since 1983 and that crumbled on contact with the must; baseball uniforms in glass cases; Boy Scout uniforms wrapped in tissue paper; more books that had been chewed, torn, tossed aside, ripped to oblivion from overuse, but still stored away; salad bowls; mixing bowls; soup bowls; bowling balls; baseball mitts that had outlived their use two decades ago; if possible, even more books; four fire engines at different scale and -- from the looks of it -- designed for children at different ages; a telescope; a chemistry set with 35 different compounds and an instruction manual that warned parents not to store contents in hot places (whoops); a popcorn maker; an espresso machine entombed in spider webs; packets of seeds ordered from a women's magazine and bound with rubber bands that had hardened; army trunks that had seen action in the Pacific Theatre; a hope chest (ironically named, it seemed); two box fans; two Bibles, each one inscribed to people no one seemed to remember.