Llewelyn looked up from her book and over the rim of her glasses to see what it was her roommate was referring to. Of the metre square box nestled in a corner, she replied, "A box."
Kate arched a sharp brow, revealing she was not impressed with Llewelyn's response. "I can see it's a box! But what is it doing in here? When we decided to share a place, we both agreed to keep most of our personal possessions in our rooms, remember? This box - whatever it is for - is not Livingroom furniture.
Llewelyn shrugged, refocusing on her book. "It goes everywhere with me."
"Fine! Keep it. I am not going to ask you to get rid of it, just move it to your room."
"If it's too heavy for you, I can help you carry it."
"I don't want it hidden away in my room - unless I'm in there with it. I want it to stay where I can see it at all times."
"Llew, I'm not going to steal anything out of it. We've been friends forever. When have you ever known me to steal anything from you?"
"You couldn't open it anyway, Kate. So that's not the problem."
A tad weary, Kate plopped down on the couch. "So what's the problem?"
Nonchalantly, Llewelyn shrugged. "Well, there's no major problem, as such. I just like having it near me. It has a lot of memories stored in it."
"Memories? This is a box of memories?"
"I guess that's the best way to describe it, yeah. They're things that my heart holds very high."
"No, not fond ones. Fond memories are for photo albums. These are the ones that wounded me so greatly in the past."
Kate couldn't believe her ears. "What?!" Then she realised, "Ewww...!!! It's like a coffin!"
Llewelyn chuckled, the deep echo of which falling with a thud in the middle of the room. "Coffins are for that which is dead. These things are very much alive."
"Llew, memories only have as much life as you give them... and you're telling me that you willingly give life to these negative memories that brought you so much heartache in the past, just so you can have them with you at all times?"
Llewelyn thought about that for a moment, eyed the box, then looked at Kate once more. "Yep."
Kate was dumbfounded. "You must really like them."
Irritably, Llewelyn snapped, "Of course I don't like them, Kate! What a stupid thing to say! I hate them!"
"Then why don't you let them go? Get rid of them?"
Llewelyn looked at Kate as though she were a complete moron. "Why would I?"
"Well how do they make you feel?" Llewelyn thought about that for a moment, then confessed, "Horrible... Worthless... Shameful... Sad... Unloved and unloveable..."
Kate couldn't believe what she was hearing. "And you willingly hold on to these things when they make you so miserable?!"
"It's not a matter of being willing, Kate."
"Yes, it is. You refuse to let go of them. You keep them close by at all times. You breathe life into them, for goodness sake."
Growing annoyed, Llewelyn focused on her book. "They are the foundation of who I am. My past will always be with me, Kate. I can't change that."
"Do you believe that if everything in this box disappears, your identity will, too?"
Llewelyn refused to answer.
"What, dare I ask, is in the box, exactly?"
"Why should I tell you when all you're going to do is mock me, Kate?!"
"I'm not mocking you. I am trying to understand... What is in there?"
In a quick breath, Llewelyn spat out, "Everyone who ever hurt me and everything they did to hurt me."
Kate was stunned. She sat agog as utter disbelief flooded her senses. "Your mother...? She's in there...?"
"Of course she is in there! She left me, didn't she! She wasn't there for me when I needed her. She broke my heart, Kate, many times, and you know it!"
Sadness washed over Kate's soul. "Llew, your mum died a long time ago. Don't you think it's time to release her from the past? ...stop making her pay for her mistakes? for your pain? She can't change anything now."
Llewelyn failed to respond. "And your ex-husband? He's in there, too?"
With bitterness evident in her heart, Llewelyn turned her hardened brow to her room mate. "He betrayed me, Kate! Of course he is in there!"
Kate nodded, realising, "I'm in there, too, aren't I...?"
With a heavy sigh, Llewelyn turned her attention to the book in her lap.
For a brief, but heavy, moment, Kate closed her eyes. "I am, aren't I... Because of that time Dillon asked me out... when you liked him?"
Llewelyn ground her teeth together. "That's one reason, yes."
A tear touched Kate's lashes. "I never meant to hurt you, Llew. I didn't even know you liked him at the time. Can you forgive me?"
"I don't have to forgive. That's the point! I put all these things in the box so I don't have to worry about forgiveness! The box takes care of all that!"
As a silent tear slithered down Kate's flushed cheek, she focused on the box, only now noticing the horrific odour drifting from it. Closing her tear-filled eyes for a moment, she envisioned just how much death and rotting flesh was being held in there, and wondered how 'love' could hold anyone prisoner in such a place. "I never meant to hurt you, Llew."
"Whatever," Llewelyn snapped. "Forget it. It's in the box."
"Everything that is in that box is rotting, Llew. How can I describe it other than as a living death? It has no life, no love, no goodness in it. It is death. But you keep it alive just to... what...? Feed it...? Or worse, so it can feed you...? This is where your heart goes to eat?"
"It's my heart, my box, my life! I'll do what I want! Stop judging me!!!"
Kate rose from the couch, her tears far from drying. "I'm not judging you, Llew... If that's what you want, if you place the box of rotting wounds higher in your heart than you do me, that's fine. It's your call. But I don't have to stay here and be crushed by the weight of it. I love you, Llew, but I won't willingly live in such a box. If you love me as you have claimed to, you'd let me out."
Llewelyn said nothing as Kate left the room. For a moment, Llewelyn felt alone - so very alone, and extremely sad. But she soon refocused on the box, remembered all that was in it and where it all had come from, felt justified in having the box and the attitude she had attached to it, then settled back into the routine she called Life... Kate, Llewleyn concluded, would just have to deal with it...