Everything was spotless and white. The light, cream carpet on the floor was immaculate and the white table surfaces didn’t have so much as a crumb or a ring of condensation from drinks without coasters. The walls were white and blank- no pictures, no photographs, no art. It could have been a show home.
Annaliese had been surprised to be invited for dinner, Jane was not known for mixing with anyone from the office outside of work. Jane was even more surprised by the invite, it had slipped out of her mouth during a coffee break. She had wanted to take it back, but the invite had been spoken and accepted and now here they were- standing in her bright, white hallway.
Annaliese had seen the kitchen, the livingroom, the bathroom and even the bedroom. All of them were white and empty of anything that wasn’t purely functional. The only room she hadn’t seen was the one hidden behind a door marked ‘Life’. Before Jane could stop her, she had opened it. The room was cluttered with many boxes of different shapes and sizes, all stacked up against one another.
She had two boxes of about equal size labelled ‘Likes’ and ‘Dislikes’. ‘Family’ was wooden and solid. Jane found this one easy to organise- her mum, dad, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles all fitted well inside this this box.
A box labelled ‘Friend’ was pretty sturdy too, but sometimes things would fade from it and others would appear unexpectedly.
There was another box labelled ‘Colleague’, Annaliese saw herself in there and noticed with a smile that she was beginning to spill out in to it’s neighbouring box- ‘Friend.’
There was a box labelled ‘Lover’ that was almost in tatters. Jane knew it couldn’t hold anything for more than a few weeks.
In the corner was a large, closed box that was bursting at the seams. It was dusty and covered in a few cobwebs. At some point, someone had moved it in here, labelled it ‘Jane?’ and ignored it. Annaliese walked over to it and dusted it off. Jane watched apprehensively as she began to unbox things. She handled everything inside with such care that in just one evening Annaliese took up space in the ‘Colleague’, the ‘Friend’ and the ‘Lover’ box. The boxes broke. Became one.
When she was done she took a pair of scissors and cut Jane’s name from the front of the box that had been ignored for so long. She took it and stuck it over the word ‘Life’ on the door. The door stayed open. Colour and comfort and warmth spread in to the house.
They sat back to drink tea without coasters and Jane wondered if one day she and Annaliese could start a ‘Family’ box of their own.