Item One: A small compact mirror, cracked on one side.
I did that. I did it the day we drove out to the beach and we had that big fight. I called you a scaredy cat because it was cold and you didn’t want to get that lung thing you had from swimming in cold water when you were a boy. It was windy and I remember spitting into the wind and watching it fly away before it even hit the sand. The suitcase was there then, in the back of the bashed up Holden. It held some of your clothes and your weathered box of paints. You didn’t paint anything that day because I made you feel small and it ruined the atmosphere. That’s what you said. I took the mirror out of the pocket of my parka and tried to capture the sun. I thought perhaps we could have a bonfire on the beach and huddle together under the blankets we kept on the backseat of the car. You said it was impossible to light a fire without matches and I told you all I needed was sunlight. You laughed without smiling so I dropped the mirror onto the rocks and watched the reflective fragments float into the sparkling ocean. I waited for you in the backseat of the car, while you calmly waded out and plucked my half smashed compact from the shallows.
Item Two: A squashed box of cornflakes.
The mornings were always our best time. Neither of us had ventured out of our little cacoon, the world had not yet intruded and there was nothing to make us bitter or despondent. I always woke up first, and it was as if you could have slept all day among the clothes and blankets and junk in the backseat. I’d pull our suitcase over and fish about its contents until I found a crumpled cardboard box. We always bought cornflakes, no matter how much or how little money we had. I’d open them up and lie on my back, dropping them one by one into my open mouth. The sound of crunching corn flakes would wake you up and you’d move your head under the cascading fountain of golden cereal. We’d laugh and everything was perfect, sometimes you’d kiss me hard and fast, other times slow and languid. Our mornings were warm and pastel coloured. They smelt like honey. The sun was never to harsh on our sleepy eyes and you always knew when it was time to start driving, my feet on the dash.
Item Three: Vincent Van Gough Starry Night Postcard.
It was a grey day. We stopped off at a café and you picked up a Van Gogh postcard from the rack near the door and plonked it down on the table. Look at this, you said, just look at it for a while. You were in one of your moods and didn’t want to talk or eat or even order coffee. You always wanted to be like him, rough and beautiful and damaged. Mostly you were rough, but sometimes I could see the beauty shine through. You were always honest, and like Vincent, you were colourful and bold and there were flickers of light among the dark. I hated the darkness though, and that way you’d disappear into yourself, brooding and hiding so I couldn’t find you. You’d stop living and sit idle, uncaring and absent from the world. Sometimes you’d paint the inside of your mind, and the lines were foggy and incidental as if your hands were shaking and the world was spinning while you tried desperately to capture something. Anything. I never knew what to say when you painted like that, angry and despairing. All I wanted was to be your muse. I wanted you to adore me like the poets and painters of the past had adored theirs’. I wished I could be your big yellow sunflower among starry nights and Saint Paul Asylum, that glimmer of hope among the contours of monsters.
Item Four: Your letter.
I don’t know why I kept the letter. I guess it’s a kind of sultry relic of time passed, proof that we did exist once, that things were deep and beguiling. I know you’re not coming back. The day you left the letter underneath the suitcase was it. I woke up and you were missing but there was the letter, poking out from under the smooth corner of the case. There wasn’t enough time to write everything you felt. That’s what you left me with. Not enough time. There was though. We had all the time in the world to wander and chance on splendour and grace. All was not lost. You just forgot about the beauty when you were consumed by the darkness and I suppose it just swallowed you up that morning. I don’t know where you are, much less where I am. I can’t drive so I’ve been sitting in the Holden, waiting for you to appear at the end of the road, kicking a stone angrily all the way. I know you won’t come back. But I’m keeping the suitcase, just in case.