THE COLLECTOR OF SHINY • by Sara Crowley

I have put twelve plastic boxes at the front of the lawn, lids off. I have sorted as much as I can:

Magazines, vinyl, books, crockery, DIY, clothing. Then it gets random. Piles of miscellany spill out as if someone has got the recycling hideously jumbled.

Dan is forever bringing home items that catch his magpie eye. Coils of wire, kept in the drawer “just in case”; nails, rusty grubby long things, silver new stubby ones; a white feather. Any old shit really. Like a cat offering its mauled love, he keeps on giving crap.

I have written “ENTIRE LIFE FOR SALE” in black marker pen, uneven capital letters on a piece of cardboard ripped from the side of a box. I lean it against a chair, once tan leather, reupholstered in black fabric–now worn white where too many legs have rubbed against it. Hardly practical, is it?

“I love you.”

“Yeah, and?”

“I love you.”

His answer for everything.

He loves me even though I am a failure as a wife/lover/friend.

Even though I never once cook him dinner, or manage to wash the dishes in time for his return from work.

He brings me a newspaper that has been discarded on the train, and makes me a coffee to accompany it whilst he rolls up shirtsleeves and fills the washing-up bowl with suds. Or a flower from a neighbour’s garden, a discounted cheesecake from the “just past sell date” shelf in the corner shop, a lucky money spider he’d found in the hedge outside.

That hedge, actually. Great green bushy thing that expands when I don’t look.

I pick up a spade and begin to dig. I’ll add it to the life sale, someone else can have the fucking thing. It’s hot now I’m digging. Slidey heat dripping from my forehead. The roots seem to go a long way down. Stuck fast.

“Hey. What are you doing?” Dan asks.

“Putting the hedge in the sale.”

“Do you need a hand?”

I pass the spade over. Let him do the grunt work.

“You look hot,” he says.

“Mmm.”

“I’ll fetch you a drink.”

He puts the shovel on the ground, and goes inside. Returns with a glass of something clear and fizzy. I sit and watch him as he carries the boxes back indoors, three at a time, stacked atop each other. I don’t say anything. It doesn’t seem to take long. He returns and crouches by the chair. Picks up the cardboard sign.
“How much do you want for it, then?” he says.

“Huh?”

“Your entire life. How much?”

“Make me an offer.”

He puts his hand in his pocket, pulls out his crappy old pouch and tips it upside down. A few coins plop onto the scrubby grass, one folded note.

“That’ll do,” I say.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It seems enough.


Sara Crowley writes out of West Sussex, UK.

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