Garage sale

She hated to see her things strewn out like that, on the oil stained concrete. She hated to bargain with people over her life. “That’s a dollar… okay, I’ll take fifty cents.” She had put those things together so nicely in her little apartment. I was always surprised when I returned from college to see the home my mother had always wanted, but couldn’t keep before because her two youngest children were rough and always messed things up. She likes to keep a clean towel over the drying dishes in the rack and another over the toaster. She likes to burn candles at night. She doesn’t keep much food in the house, but the staples: cheap wine, beer, crackers, coffee and cream. All the furniture had been given to us or bought at a thrift store or someone else’s garage sale, but she put it together in a way to be proud of. And then there it was, back in the same random order it had been brought in at.

I had the same pit in my stomach as I did when I was eight years old, the first time I remember my mother having to sell nearly everything so we could move. All of her treasures were laid out on a blanket in the shade. I was keeping a watch over it all as she made trips in and out of the trailer, bringing out more and more things. A customer walked up and I recognized him as one of my classmate’s uncle. He wanted to buy her antique 7-UP wood crate, which was just out to hold my books for sale. With my mother inside, our landlord took it upon herself to sell the crate for three dollars. I ran to find her, excited to tell my mother we had made money off of something we had not even intended to sell. She was upset. She did not want to sell it. It was worth more than that. Our landlord said, be grateful for what you can get. And how could you argue with that, when all that has decorated your life is scattered behind you on the ground?


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