‘Bottom Drawer’, Brett Alexander Savory

(Prizewinner, Mirrormask/Flashes of Darkness Competition, 2005)

Artwork by Djibril

 [ Drawer: image (cc) 2005 Djibril ] In my office is a desk.

My desk contains three drawers, each slightly bigger than the one above it. The top drawer is where I keep my stationery; the middle drawer contains mainly instruction manuals for my computer, a scientific calculator, and other devices; and the bottom drawer is where I hide things.

Four years ago, when job stress got to be too much, I hid a bottle of whiskey in this bottom drawer. Hid it, but never touched it. It's still there, unopened, pushed to the back. After that, I hid a handgun. It's loaded, sitting next to the whiskey, unused now for three years.

This worked for a little while, made things easier, knowing that when depression hit, I had some whiskey and a gun. I could take action.

If I wanted to.

But for the past year, it hasn't been enough, and I've realized that this stress has little to do with my job. I feel ashamed when I think of the whiskey bottle and the gun, because I know I'd never use them.

A few months ago, I started hiding receipts for mundane things, like movie tickets, wiper blades, bags of chips, DVDs, everything.

Until last week, when I decided to use my bottom drawer to hide more important things, things that deserved to be next to the whiskey bottle and the gun.

In a tiny envelope, beside the bottle, I carefully placed my dream that I'd find someone to share my life with. In another envelope, I breathed my sexual secrets, licked the glue along the envelope's flap, tucked it snugly under the gun.

I filled the middle of the drawer with pages of conversations written in longhand—discussions, as well as I can remember them, with people no longer in my life. I stapled these together, grouped by association.

Friend, parent, lover, child.

I wrapped my love for my children in elastic bands, left it near the front of the drawer, so I could find it easily. So that on very bad days, my hand would touch this knotted bundle before finding the items at the back.

At night, when people drifted lazily out the doors to their successful lives, I locked my top two drawers, but always left the bottom drawer unlocked—and slightly open, maybe a quarter of an inch.

I wanted someone to open it. A nosy cleaning lady. A curious co-worker. Maybe they'd be inspired to add things of their own, wrap little pieces of their lives in stationery, nestle them next to my secrets. Hiding who they really were, who they really wanted to be, just to make life easier.

But every morning, I'd come into the office, and no one had opened it; no one had touched a thing.

Last night, after work, I opened my bottom drawer, leaned over and pushed down with both hands, shoved it all as far back as possible.

Let them try now. Let them work for it. Let them sweat. Courage takes work.

© 2005 Brett Alexander Savory

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