I am the keeper of her secrets; the guardian of her memories. Within my depths she stores all that she holds dear and all that she wants to hide away.
She is a slave to routine; visiting me at the same time every morning. A smile and a gentle caress along my polished exterior tells me that it will be a good day, and that when she returns – just as the moon is casting shadows that spider across the floor – she will have stories to tell.
I can hear her talking with her sister and mother in the next room, their voices loud enough for me to hear the words, and I eagerly wait, my panels bristling, for the happy end. The story of the triumphant hero and her brave companions, always the same, but I never tire of it.
And then she returns to me; finishing the day as it started. A whisper, a caress and maybe something new to join the trove of treasures that are already inside – a pearl perhaps, collected from down by the docks? Perhaps a piece of beautifully carved wood from the forest? Or maybe another bundle of papers that he has given her. No matter what she deposits, her routine remains the same, a familiarity that instils a security deep within my grain.
Things have changed. Instead of a smile and caress, I am subjected to a scowl and a slam, the violent action making my lock rattle and my hinges scream in pained surprise; but my protests fall on deaf ears as she quickly turns and leaves. I hear the silence around me, and know that my fellows are easily as shocked as I; the wardrobe on my left weeps as it nurses a newly battered door.
The room is tense when she returns that evening, all of us waiting on tenterhooks, teetering on the edge. Shouts are heard through the walls. Mother and daughter bite out insults, so colourful I can feel my varnish peeling away under the acid tones. With a bang she closes the door behind her, bracing herself upon the wood, her head hanging low and shoulders hunched. I watch as she shudders, her body vibrating and a sob crawls its way out of her throat.
Today's gift is one that I know will remain forever, a silver chain wrapped lovingly in a sash. In the next room her mother howls, but no noise leaves her lips as she opens my lid. Her hands shake and tears trek lines down her cheeks, but she is silent. Her violent outburst from this morning is gone, replaced by a softness that speaks of her pain filled trance. I ache to comfort, to reassure. There is nothing I can do. I just observe.
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