The Daily Prompt : The Last Parcel

Crumpled paper

Image: Pixabay

 

The box had been  on Mags’ sideboard for six weeks, gradually being enveloped by paperwork – Mum’s solicitor, insurance companies, utility bills. It had become part of the room, along with the sagging sofa and the coffee stain on the carpet. She almost didn’t see it any more.

The day it arrived she knew who it was from. Thick packing tape along each edge and on the corners, name and address written in neat block capitals in black marker.

Mum.

How had a woman who’d been strapped to monitors, pricked with needles, attached to various bags for the previous three months, managed to pack a parcel? The postman arrived as Mags was rushing – one shoe on, slice of toast clenched between her teeth – to see the consultant. After the meeting she’d got home, poured a large glass of red wine. Stared at the parcel until it turned blurry with tears.

In the following weeks she couldn’t clear enough space in her head to open the parcel. The more she thought about it, the more important the act felt. It was a bundle of lasts – Mum’s last letter to her, last parcel, last act that seemed like normal life – until it was too much. That’s when the box became part of the room.

Now the funeral was paid for, legal wheels set in motion.

It was time.

Mags cleared the dinning room table as the coffee brewed, excavated the box from its paper cocoon. It lay naked, exposed and she watched it for a while, its last moments of wholeness. With a small knife she fell to slicing the tape, careful not to push the blade too deeply in case she damaged the contents.

She opened the flap and jolted to a halt as a flood of scent hit her, the one she’d given Mum every Christmas for over twenty years. Heavy and floral – a perfume for romantic novelists – it never suited her, but Mum was always stubborn and had refused to even try anything else.

Mags let the pain ease, waited for the clawing horror that had first gripped her in the hospital pass – that knowledge that Mum was gone forever.

Hand shaking, she pushed back one flap, allowed her nerves to settle before pushing back the other.

Gently, she pulled aside a mash of second hand bubble wrap, bunched newspaper, a crumpled shopping list – tea bags, sliced loaf, dusters – to reveal a familiar face. Her Panda – threadbare, nose pressed flat from hugs. An ache pulsed in her throat as she lifted him from his nest. A flash of red caught her eye – a ribbon, shining like a new painted letter box. She remembered the colour, knew it had tied up her hair but the details of when and where were lost. The rest of the box was filled with drawings, school reports, photographs of them at the seaside, them on a steam train, them sitting on a picnic blanket eating Scotch eggs and sardine sandwiches.

Finally, Mags opened a single piece of notepaper, Mum’s writing still elegant even so close to the end.

My darling girl. Take things slowly

And her voice was in Mags’ head,  by turns joking, cheeky, stern. And after she finished reading Mags smiled and read the note again.

 


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – SLOWLY. See here to read other contributions and to come along for the ride.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “The Daily Prompt : The Last Parcel

  1. Ah Christ Lynn! I’m really ill today and my defences are down… This made me tear up.

    I still have the last note my mother wrote to me from hospital… A list of things she needed – Nothing as thought-out as this, (but she had no idea how little time she had left.) It’s still precious to me though, almost 23 years on.

    And yes, the scent never leaves really does it?
    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, sweet. Sorry to upset you. There’s something about finding someone’s writing and being a ‘last’ that tears you up doesn’t it? We still have the last card from my father in law, written just a week or so before he died. And I remember opening a parcel from my dad, filled with stuff I really didn’t want, and with the smell of his house.
      It’s primal stuff. Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comments. Do hope you’re feeling better soon X

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Chris. It means a lot. It’s touched a nerve with a few people, this story. Any of us who have lost someone know that empty feeling. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Like

    1. Thank you so much Joy. I don’t think I would have been able to write that story years ago, before I’d lost loved ones. But having had similar experiences, what Mags goes through felt right somehow. I’m glad it rang true for you – that means a lot. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. What a lovely comment. To be honest, it made me feel weepy as I was writing it. Lots of memories of people now lost. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Like

    1. Aw, thank you, Jane. It struck a chord with a few people. I think any of us who have lost someone can identify with that terror when someone goes, and with trying to remember the lovely times through the pain. Thanks so much Jane 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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