by: Rebecca Taylor

Occasionally you come across an item that changes your life, and to Katie McGraw we were just that. We are myself – a preserved wedding gown and my friend a groom’s tuxedo. It was almost dark outside when she climbed the stairs to the attic where we reside inside an oak trunk. She crossed the creaky old floorboards, the sound of her feet echoing as she walked. She stopped and looked around, coughing because of the dust which covered every inch of the rarely visited attic. After a few moments she headed over to the trunk, knelt beside it, and after dusting it off a bit with her hand opened it.

Katie picked up a scratched silver key and said, “From my first car, I sure wore it out, and it wasn’t new when I got it. I haven’t had one since that made me feel the way that 1989 pink Chevy did.”

She set the key down and pulled out a small gift box, she carefully untied the ribbon and letters came spilling out of the box. “I’d forgotten about these, Joe wrote them to me when he was trucking before he was transferred here to Aulson to take the job as dispatcher. She started to open one of the envelopes when she spotted us. She put the box on the floor at her side, and then moved a photo of her wedding and the wedding announcement.

She gently brought me out of the trunk and standing unfolded me displaying my radiant personality. It felt so good to be admired again; it reminded me of the day she wore me to marry Joe. It will be eight years on the 15th of this month. I remember the day like it was yesterday, it was a beautiful autumn day, Katie was twenty‑three and she was completely exuberant as she stood in me, an ivory floor length gown with a beaded neckline and veil. Her eyes gleamed as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to meet her soon to be husband. Joe was wearing my companion, a simple tailored black suit. The suit and I had never met before that day as it is considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her gown before the big day. We too were joined in holy matrimony that day and have not been separated since. We are reminders of the love that Katie and Joe have. The look in Katie’s eyes took me away from my reminiscing and once again, I turned my thoughts to the present. Katie looked sad and as you might imagine looking at me should not be a gloomy event. She was fingering the plastic that I was wrapped in but I could feel how cold her hands were through it. At that moment I became afraid, I knew from Katie’s actions that something was wrong because otherwise she would not have come up to the attic, which was rarely visited or cleaned. The trunk that Joe’s suit, the other mementos, and I reside in hasn’t been opened for three years, since Katie showed me to a friend who was planning her own wedding. It is a rare occasion to be brought out and admired, and here we were upset. Katie whispered something; I strained my ears to hear; she wants Joe to come back so they can work things out. They had a major argument, one that she is not sure their marriage can heal from. If it doesn’t then one of them will leave this house where we have all lived in for so long. If that happens, then the suit which has become my best friend and I will be separated too.   Katie put me back in the trunk, and sat down on the floor to pick up the box of letters that she had abandoned upon spotting me. She pulled out a random letter and started reading. Emotions of love and longing filling her heart as mine pounded away in anticipation. Everything was happening so fast that I felt like I might cry, but my friend, Suit, touched me gently on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, Beauty, those letters will help her, look at her face now, it’s softening.”

I smiled slightly trying to cheer myself up; we could see the stars through the tiny attic window, a sight that we haven’t seen for years. Katie got up and headed downstairs with some of the letters. Then we were able to talk honestly about what each of us thought.

“Katie’s calm most of the time, but sometimes things build up and she becomes over emotional,” said the key.

“All couples fight, I spent a lot of time with Joe when he was writing me and my friends to her, they’re complete opposites but they make it work but sometimes it clashes,” said one of the letters that was still in the gift box.

“Relationships, sometimes you hate them and other times you love them,” answered the announcement.

“Do you think they can work it out,” I asked wondering if this would be one of the last chats that we memories of a happy time would have together.

“I think so,” answered the photograph, “the letters are helping Katie get composed, so hopefully when Joe comes back they’ll be able to talk about what’s bothering them.”

I nodded; none of us said too much about the situation after that, there wasn’t anything to say until we saw what would happen with Katie and Joe. I looked around the room now lit up by the light in the corner that Katie had left on. Everything was covered and dusty, all a part of something hidden away but not forgotten.

It was the next afternoon before Katie returned to the attic, this time with Joe. They put all of us back in our trunk and using warm soapy water set out to rid the attic of its grime. The cobwebs that had built up in the keyhole of the trunk were cleaned out so now we could feel the cool air and hear their voices even when the lid was closed. They worked in tandem to reorganize the attic, reliving moments past trying to mend their current issues. The smell of dust was replaced by the scent of lemon cleaning products, and fresh outdoor air. Together with us, Katie and Joe were able to work through their problems and also make the attic into a more pleasant space. The dim light bulb was replaced with one that gave an exuberant glow. The trunk where we live became a table and cosy chairs and cushions were brought upstairs to make a quiet getaway for the couple. They could now use the space for private or together time, to talk, read, or just enjoy the stars which glisten in the night sky. Katie had entered the dusty attic upset, to be met by memories of love that shone in their hearts and had temporarily been misplaced. These memories touched her heart and transformed all of our lives.