Write the first 250-500 words of a story or essay in which you’re describing an object you saved from a burning house. Without describing explicitly what that object means to you (to your narrator), let the images themselves, and story or stories you tell about the object, imply the object’s significance.
I’ve never had to save something from a burning house; Thank God! But when we downsized for our move from Sacramento back to San Francisco, we sold every piece of furniture, except a Bassett 3-drawer dresser my mother gifted me decades ago. At the time, my husband wanted it gone. He felt the weathered dresser that was in dire need of repair, and a new coat of varnish, represented everything he wanted to put behind us in order to start again.
I disagreed with him, and insisted on bringing the dresser along. I adored the intricate craftsmanship, I told him, even, the way the dresser slanted left, compromising the pull and push of the drawers. He laughed when he noticed me carefully packing the contents into a moving box. From drawer one, I pulled out a few trinkets from my childhood, before we moved to the U.S. A dozen or so photographs, held together with a brown ribbon used for a flower girl basket from my cousin’s wedding; I found the color simply elegant and worthy of a keepsake. There were five journals in excellent condition, that I kept during my difficult teenage years. A photograph from my senior prom made its way to the floor. The uptight pose from my date, made me laugh, remembering how he was forced to accompany me.
From drawer two, I pulled out an art book and a dozen or more used up crayons, and markers, and even a dried-up water-color palette. Fabric samples and a Barbie doll dressed in the outfit I made for her decades ago.
In drawer three, I found a stained postcard I sent my mother from Paris in the early 90s; I remember finding in her ‘things to shred pile’, thinking then, it had to be there by mistake. There was also an expired work badge with my last name forever misspelled, a driver’s license from a decade ago with my best mug-shot. I loved my hair cut then. A romantic card from my husband, before he was my husband, was among a collection of other greeting cards, stacked neatly in a collaged box I made in fifth grade. A tarnished bracelet I bought with my first paycheck; I found caught inside a crack in the drawer. And a neatly folded overpriced gold-leafed drawer liner, I couldn’t resist buying from an arts and craft store.
Although everything fit inside one large moving box, easily storeable along with the rest of the frivolous, in a Public Storage unit. I knew the dresser with its contents would end up in a space; I will designate my own, no matter where I end up.
What a terrific litany of objects emblematic of the narrator’s childhood! I love the specificity here. Her husband wants the dresser gone, but “I adored the intricate craftsmanship, I told him, even, the way the dresser slanted left, compromising the pull and push of the drawers.” She wants to hold on to images that remind her of her past.