Flash Fiction: Photographic Corduroy
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
‘New insulated jackets don’t have to cost the Earth, Cassie,’ Helen explained over speakerphone. She shook a new plastic bag open for her unsold corduroy pants. ‘Maybe you could find a sale online. We’ll only be there for one month of winter anyway.’
‘Perhaps, Hels. Thanks.’ Cassie paused. ‘It’s so great how we can work wholly online now, hey?’
Helen caressed the corrugated fabric, remembering the first time she wore the witchy-purple pants. She felt so fashionable that night watching fireworks in nineteen-ninety something. They helped find her first high school friend: Cassie.
‘What is it?’
‘Do you think corduroy will come back into fashion soon?’
‘Hmm. Isn’t it supposed to be every thirty years? If you’re thinking about Europe, it may come back in the six months we’re there.’
Six months. Six months pursuing her dream. Six months of experiences rather than accumulating more stuff. Then, longer if it worked out. And due to not being home often, she would buy a ‘tiny house’. She tried to cut down everything she owned to fit into storage— about the same size as a tiny house.
‘Thanks, Cas. See you Tuesday.’
Helen took out the pants and held them against her hips. Even though her thighs ached with exhaustion, the familiar pang of nostalgia awoke in her belly. There were so many things she had parted with: books not worth rereading; clothes with memories worn into the threads; a present or two from ex-boyfriends and extras of multiple items. Helen realised she didn’t need three soup ladles.
Maybe the pants would be an incentive to keep healthy. Hiking was on her list of ‘Worldly Travel Writer’ things to do. Forest, desert or mountain, she didn’t mind.
Folding the pants over the back of a dining chair, Helen took inventory of what was left after the garage sale: two bags of clothing; glassware sets of three and some old non-fiction books, which weren’t old enough to be antique—perhaps vintage.
She sneezed, nose still tingling with dust from days of cleaning.
The business of letting go wasn’t painless. Memories had sunk into items, almost giving them abilities of photographs. There were items which she would never part with, such as the mantle clock her father restored.
Helen lay out the pants on the floor, taking a photo.
‘Perhaps one for the Journal,’ she whispered.
The Journal would hold photos and stories of things which meant something, but not enough to keep.
She shoved the phone into her back pocket and picked up the pants. They were soft from wear, but the colour and stretch had held. She could almost smell the hay on the country air and hear the laughter of her new friend.
‘No, the Boomerang Box,’ she smiled. ‘I’ll decide on you later.’
‘If you love something, let it go…’ was the saying.
Placing the pants in the Boomerang Box, Helen realised: some people, like things, stay for a while, others a lifetime, but all create change.
She grabbed her phone and opened a new text message.
Thanks Cas, for still being here and not a random person next to me on the train. xoxo
Written for Australian Writers' Centre Furious Fiction, January 2019 (edited since).