His fingers wanted to stretch, to reach further than ever before. He had to reach… he was on his toes, he was at the maximum level of stretch that he could achieve. He stood on a chair, that stood on a table in his Fathers office. He had on the thickest soled pair of boots he had, but he still couldn’t reach it. Checking his watch, he saw that his father would be home shortly. He could not allow himself to be caught out here. He jumped down off the chair, put it back in its place in the corner of the room after wiping any signs of foot prints off of it and wiping the table, he put it back in the center of the room, between two leather armchairs that he had tried moving before, but was afraid when he saw the deep indents they left in the carpet.
“Gary, you home? I have dinner here for us.” His father called from down stairs as Gary crossed the landing to his own room, so that when he called to say he would be down in a moment his Father would not think his voice was coming from a strange place.
Father and son ate in silence, Gary on his phone, scrolling through Twitter, his Father flicking through the newspaper, his tongue clicking against the roof of his mouth every now and then as he read something that displeased him. Dinner turned out to be pizza and chips, Gary’s favorite.
Later, sitting down to watch a football match together on TV, Gary’s dad spotted the thick soled boots his son was wearing.
“Whats with the clod hoppers, Gar’?”
“Oh these? Um, they are comfortable.” Gray couldn’t think of a better lie. He should have taken off the boots earlier. Why should his Dad care what he was wearing anyway?
“Come on Gary, who you trying to kid? Its like 30 degrees out there, you have to be sweltering in those yokes.”
Gary said nothing, watching the TV, hoping one of the teams would score so this line of inquiry would end.
“Who is she Gar’?”
“Huh?” Gary honestly had no clue what his Dad was talking about.
“When I was younger, before your Mam and I met, I used to wear these high heeled boots when I wanted women to notice me. I would be taller, you see? Thought I looked older that way. Ha, your Mam hated those boots.” His Dad smiled at the memory.
“Eh, no Dad, I just like these. They are really comfortable.”
Gareth was home before his Father again, more determined than ever to reach the box that had so far eluded him. He had been gathering phone books from his friends house for the last few days, and with them wedged underneath the chair he felt he could surely reach the box.
Constructing his makeshift tower, he thought about his Mother. The last time he had seen her alive she had this box on her lap, but she kept her hand on the lid, gently holding it closed. The curtains where closed, the high ceilings lost in the darkness. For the months that she had been sick there had been a gentleness about her and around the house.
Gareth climbed onto the chair supported by the phone books. When he put his first foot onto the chair it slipped a little, but when his full weight was on it the chair held steady, forced to stay in place by his weight. He reached up an was able to touch the box, but couldn’t get a grasp on it. He stretched onto his toes and felt for the corner of the box. His fingers, wet at first from slight sweat could get a purchase, but at the second go the damp of his fingers left a mark on the box, creating an opportunity for friction. The box suddenly flew free, shocking Gareth, he slipped and fell backward off the chair.
As he fell, it seemed that this moment was in slow motion. He saw the box open above him in mid air, saw its contents slip and slide around the box and begin to spill onto him, following his fall to the floor. He saw letters, trinkets, things that looked like rubbish to him. He saw photo’s of his Mam and Dad, the photo’s where old, and his parents where young in them.
He landed on the floor, his arm under neath him, his head thudded off the desk and he lay with his head supported by the foot of the desk. He had heard a click in his neck, and could feel something pressing against his skin, something from the inside. There was a wetness coming from his collar.
He could see some items still fluttering to the floor. A large brown feather landed near him, and he recognized it as that of a golden eagle, his Mam’s favorite bird. He longed to reach it, and tried to do so, but his arms didn’t seem to want to do what he told them. Through great effort he forced his arm to move towards the feather, edging closer and closer as he began to tire from the effort.
Oh, if he could just touch the feather he would feel close to her again.
Almost there… he could almost… touch her…