I could see their faces, right there in the pile of rubbish at the dump. They were looking through the window of the broken playhouse, smiling pure joy at me – the joy of a child with a small space to go in and a world to look out at. I hadn’t expected them here, though. I was just doing a bit of spring cleaning, not ghost hunting. But even with rubbish all around it, that window was the frame of priceless memories painted in such vivid colour I could hear them laughing and calling “Daddy! Look at me!” through every one of its faded cracks.
I’m glad there weren’t many people around to see my knees nearly buckle and my eyes water up under the sudden weight of remembering. The dump is no place for such things. It’s a place for rubbish. The playhouse was worn out. The children were growing. It was time. It was done.
And yet, their faces were still in the window. Their imaginations had brought the playhouse to life, a life that soaked into the plastic more and more as they wore it out with their games and adventures. When it was new it was beautiful, but empty. Now it was faded and cracked, but full. Maybe the weight of living will do something similar to me. If it does, I won’t regret it.
It’s silly to say goodbye to a bit of green plastic, but it felt like the right thing to do. The window in the rubbish was a window to my past. I had known I would drive away, but I hadn’t realised how much I would leave behind.
When I got home, there was a face looking out of a window to greet me. It was bigger than the ghosts, but it had the same smile, and this time I could kiss it.