The desk was the last thing living in the house when Julie arrived, and after the desk removed itself, the crumpled walls. The balloon frame emptied of warmth. The shutters sighed. Only the termites fed for a week. Grandmother knew, and sat against her tree for days to hear the rolltop slide up and down to Julie’s hand. She heard Julie swear at paperwork. And Grandmother laughed, "If any of us only knew." She read to her grand-daughter from the pages of journals locked and hidden in a sliding safe that Julie's grandfather had built into the back of the desk for his wife.
No key to the safe, only a dowel and a slide pretending to be flush. A shared gift of trust, and a reminder that some people in her journals only valued things, but needed the absence of remains to act righteous.
October’s bills sat in a rifled stack on Julie’s left. As she paid each, Julie shifted them to the right side of the roll-top desk -- her only well used reminder of her grandmother. Boxed away, a few knick-knacks of memories. A thick security envelope of old photographs. The brief funeral, too fresh to forget. The priest who mispronounced her grandmother’s name. An 8 by 10 in a gilded frame of her aunt's choosing; her mother’s family that gathered to scatter the ashes at a public park, near water, under a special tree. The family argued at Grandmother’s house over pre-tagged 'remembrances'. Some require what they deserve, and that is not always accepted as obvious.
The walnut desk was what Julie asked her grandmother for, and even though Julie's name stood out in wrenched handwriting, others fought over it. As Julie entered the house, she looked at the baboons who got in her way, and then pointed at the desk; a pair of friends who came with her pushed through to it, picked it up, and then carried the desk outside to wrap it in moving blankets, tape them in place, and slide the desk into the back of a covered pickup bed. It went home, and the bodies left in the house made vanity at her back in words meant to carry, but carrying only reassurances that bodies can breathe a long while after the soul is self-driven out of heart.
Louis Murphy is a musician, visual artist and writer who associates himself most with the larger disabled communities and with the work it requires to show some brief humanity. Much of his work can be seen as a continuing process to understand himself and others through social situations and the conversations that arise from them. He lives in Minnesota, and can be reached by email at email@example.com.