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Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

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I reached for the old flannel shirt lying on the bed with the intention of throwing it in the laundry hamper. But giving it a good look over I thought, “This just needs to go in the rag bag or the garbage,” and turned to chuck it in the wastebasket.

The sound erupted from inside my head so suddenly it scared the beejeebers out of me.

“No! You can’t throw that away. That’s my favorite around-the-house shirt!”

Though my inner critic was always wide awake and present when I sat down at the desk or computer to write, she seldom bothered to show up for chore duty — like sorting laundry. Her high-pitched, whiny voice grated on me this morning.

“What’s all the fuss about?” I thought to her calmly. “It’s falling apart anyway. Half the buttons are falling off, the cuffs are thread bare, the nap’s worn down on it…”

“You can’t throw it away,” she screeched at the top of her teeny tiny voice. “That was Lord Drollery’s shirt. When you put it on I think of him. It feels like a hug.”

Her voice broke then. I could hear the little girl whimpers backed up behind the sniffles. I looked at the shirt again. I’d confiscated this particular one because of the colors. Jewel tones — emerald, sapphire, gold, ruby. I had been in Victorian mode then. Geez. That had to have been ten or fifteen years ago. I looked at where the edges of the cuffs hung in tatters and shook my head. It was time. And I tossed it in the trash.

“You’ll be sorry you did that!” she cried hysterically.

I could just picture her standing inside my head, arms crossed defiantly, mouth and nose scrunched together and eyes narrowed and angry.

I tried reasoning with her.

“You know I can’t actually WEAR it anymore. I can only layer it over the top of something. Too many buttons missing. And it’s getting hot outside now. Too hot to wear a flannel shirt over a t-shirt.”

“I mean it. If you throw it away you’ll go looking for it and be really sorry you did that. I know how you are. That’s what happened with your pretty sweater you decided to give to the Rescue Mission a couple months ago.”

Her voice was more menacing now, tinged with a little anger and she was drumming her foot in staccato little taps now. I could feel it banging inside my head.

I really HAD regretted giving that sweater away. The day after we dropped the bags off at the mission I had occasion to wear it with a new pair of pants. Dumb move, I thought, but I didn’t know I was going to buy new pants.

But this was just a raggedy old shirt. I pulled it out of the wastebasket and slipped it on one more time, thinking about what she’d said about a hug. It WAS sort of like getting a hug from my hubby.

I could feel her relaxing and softening inside. She was calmer now but not yet willing to give up.

“You know you can always sew a few new buttons on it for cryin’ out loud.”

I wrapped the shirt tight around me and ran my hand down the tattered sleeve. That hole there was where our cat Strider, long since passed away, had dug his claws in and got them stuck. This paint over here was from helping my four-year-old grandson paint a picture fame. And the tear in the hem here on the side? That’s where I caught it on a nail on the porch at the cabin. I could still smell the hot dogs and marshmallows we were roasting that night. I realized then it really was more than an old shirt. It had signs of my life all over it. I guess there really wasn’t any hurry. I could throw it away any time.

I slipped it off and put it on a hanger.

“Are you happy now?” I asked.

But the little bugger had already gone back to sleep.