The antique sewing machine sat in quiet solitude beside her bed. As I admired its tarnished curves, I could almost hear it hum and whir under her watchful eye. Down the hall, a man paused and gingerly stroked the keys of the stately grand piano, the melody momentarily chasing the bitter chill from the tiny cottage.
I wandered into the kitchen and listened quietly to the women gathered around the breakfast table. Each dish and utensil was carefully examined and a verdict rendered: trash or treasure. Dusty shelves lined every room, their contents tousled in heaps and occasionally spilling onto the wood floor – volumes and volumes of music and poetry.
With arms overflowing, I paid for the things I had gathered – her things – and closed the rickety door behind me. Soon, in the warmth of my own kitchen, I presented each one to a raptured audience over breakfast. But later, as I polished the worn toy chest and assigned its new home I was reminded that one day, when we are gone, a gaggle of nosy strangers will rifle through our things at dawn, and render a verdict. But the truest treasures will not be there for the taking – only their shadows.