Basement of Boxes



Scene Title Basement of Boxes
Synopsis After offering to clean Lydia's basement, Jaiden finds a little surprise.
Date 09/02/10

Ichihara Bookstore

A box of kittens, tipped over to tumble and spill out over the cold cement floor, exploring on tiny legs. The black matriarch watches from a perch, high atop a stack of boxes, her head twisting this way and that as she watches the tiny mewlers sniff and poke their heads into various holes and crevices.

A basement full of boxes and garbage is what greets Jaiden. Not garbage in the smelly trash sense, but things that look rather old and useless. Whoever left all of this in here certainly treasured other mens' trash.

In the corner, the wrought iron scrolling headboard of a queen sized bed rests against the wall. It's off white paint is chipped and rusted through in places, leaving a pattern on its surface that is as intriguing as it is ancient. There's no mattress, no box spring, but piled in a tall stack next to it is a row of boxes all labeled 'Delia R'. Either the young woman was claiming things, or she was making preparations.

One of the kittens crawls out from behind that tall stack. Its wobbling head, painted with patches of orange and gray, points directly at him. Those wide blue-gray eyes stare at him for a long while before it lets out a long squeak. 'Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii', it doesn't sound like a meow as much as it sounds like the little thing is claiming the pile 'mine'.

He really didn't mean to dump the kittens, but in their enthusiasm to get out of the box and explore the new space that he'd brought them to kind of made the tumbling forth a little inevitable. He chuckles, shaking his head, bending to shoo them back into the box and noticing, after a moment or two , that this really won't be a good thing while he's trying to clean. They won't stay there, no matter what he does, and at least while they're down here they're out of the hair of Lydia upstairs and underfoot down here.

Must not step on a kitten.

Jaiden spends the first couple of minutes just getting an idea of what is down here. Lights go on first, windows are uncovered to get a little air circulation going and hopefully a little dust out of the room as well. Checking to make sure none of the kittens are able to get to the open windows, Jaiden turns and surveys the underworld that he's taken claim to for the next few hours, taking note of things that look useful, things that are junk, and things that could potentially be used to make this place a little more livable. The walls are checked second, the man actually getting on his knees to look behind things (the knees of his jeans getting quite filthy because of it), checking to make sure the walls are sound with no leaks, and then, he notices the orange kitten declaring it's ownership of boxes with Delia's name on them.

"Good girl." Jaiden says with a smile. "Preparing for when you might have to run." He makes his way over to the boxes and, picking the kitten up and perching it on his shoulder, moves these boxes out of the way and into the light.

The tiny calico grips the large man's shoulder tightly with teeny pin claws as it hangs on for the rocking gate of his steps across the room and into the sparse light. Its tail waving to and fro, sometimes tickling at Jaiden's ear. 'Meeehhhhhhhhh' the tone is disapproving as the boxes are moved one by one. When Jaiden has finished the task and all of them are piled into the center, the tiny kitten spots and opening and dives onto the pile, disppearing into a folded corner of one of the boxes.

There's rustling sound as the last tip of the kitten's patchy black and orange tail disappears. Whatever its doing in there doesn't sound very good, there's the tear of tissue or paper. A scuffle and the clink of something else. The little cat is either playing or turning the contents into a cozy nest.

Ack, no kitty! Jaiden tries to catch the kitten before it leaps and fails miserably, nearly knocking over the neatly stacked boxes in what could be considered a comical display of being a buffoon. But luckily he doesn't fall over, knock anything over, or even disturb the boxes, and loathe as he is to root around in Delia's things, having a kitten root around in them may not be a good thing. He opens the box and fishes out the kitten as best he can, checking to see if he had done any damage to anything within. A few papers are turned over and whatever was clinking is checked.

Unfortunately, before Jaiden gets to opening the box, the kitten is nowhere to be seen. It's a medium sized packing box, about two and a half feet on all sides, heavy on the bottom. It's at the bottom where the rustle can be heard.

When the flaps are peeled away, the first thing that meets Jaiden's eyes is a folded white piece of cloth, lightweight, with eyelets at regular intervals. A cotton dress, much like the ones she wore when she visited him in the dream. The thin spaghetti straps have a satin sheen to them, giving them a pearl hue. Upon lifting the delicate garment, a hidden trove of Delia's most precious possessions ranging from a ratty stuffed pink rabbit to framed family photographs can be seen.

He shouldn't be seeing this without her permission. He shouldn't be digging around and looking but the kitten is down there and can't be left to his own devices without fear of damage to whatever it is. He can only hope that Delia won't be too terribly angry at him for going through her things.

He makes quick work of burrowing down to find the kitten. Exploration of what was removed will have to take place when he's putting it all back into the box. He is extremely gentle with the dress and the photos - the rabbit too - as he sets them on a nearby box. "Come here, you…." he growls mockingly, finally putting hands on the cat and drawing him forth. "Off you go…" he says, shooing him back to his mother.

That leaves Jaiden staring at Delia's memories….at her past, spread out on the boxes surrounding him.

The bunny is lifted and the threadbare cloth stroked lightly before he's put back into his box. The pictures are lingered on, flipped through slowly, Jaiden trying to make mental connections.

Whatever's left of the old rabbit's fur is clumped in little pills in odd patches around its body. One of the ears is off, indicating that at some point it had been ripped away from the rest of the head. The careful stitching looks as though it was done by a child. Little string x-es in red, now faded to a deep pink, have come apart in a few places which leaves that ear dropping at an unnatural angle.

As the pictures are placed back one by one, something of a time line of the young woman's life becomes clear. A little red headed girl, so close to her brunette sister that every photograph features the two of them. Growing into late elementary school and the teen years, there are barely any of them together. Usually the ones that are have them separated on either side of a redheaded woman that is easily assumed to be their mother. Both girls have their father's eyes, though the brunette looks strikingly similar to the mother while the redhead (aside from the bright curly hair) resembles her father.

At the girls age into adulthood, the pictures come even further apart, turning seasonal instead of candid. The redhead has a sullen or solemn glare in most while the brunette has turned into a bright and bubbly blonde. She's shorter, thinner, better looking than the redhead, something that may be attributed to the baggy clothing and garage style the younger has adopted.

This rabbit has obviously been well and truly loved. Loved to the point of tatters. Loved to have been repaired even after one of its ears had been nearly torn off. It was probably an accident, but whoever fixed it obviously took their time to try and make it as right as it possibly could. Something to be cherished - a symbol of the care that one has for another.

The bunny is put aside and as Jaiden goes through the pictures, a mental image starts to become clear. Two sisters who grew apart for some reason and it appears that at some time, Delia started resenting the other due to popularity, looks, or something that honestly doesn't matter now. And sometime after all of this, the redheaded woman vanished into the chaos of the bomb. "Momma Delia, you did good for your girls." Jaiden says to the smiling woman, brushing a finger over her face. He makes a note to ask her about her sister at some time…to learn more about her family.

The dress is taken up last and stroked gently. Did he see it in the pictures anywhere? Was it Delia's mother's dress? Still, he holds it to his nose and inhales deeply, his eyes closed, taking in the scent.

Lavender. Mint. A hint of tea tree. The faint sting of mothballs. Aside from the last, they're the same scents that linger around Delia daily. It's an older style, simple, yet in the dream it gave her an unspoiled elegance and an air of innocence. It's obvious that the dress has been worn on many occasions, sunny Sundays on the way to church, a faint stain of green near the lacy hem at the bottom would hint at a picnic or two.

Twenty minuscule needles embed themselves into Jaiden's knee as the calico kitten jumps up on him. Dissatisfied with staying with the others, the little thing galloped across the floor when the dress was unfurled. Food Lady is here. His squeaky cry of 'Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii' has the other five bounding toward the large man, along with their mother. She doesn't touch the floor. Leaping from box to box, Huruma (the cat) is soon on top of one of Delia's and stretching forward to sniff at the dress.

Oh-ho, so that's what they wanted. Something to eat. Jaiden folds the dress over one arm and heads upstairs, taking the steps two at a time, returning a moment later with the bowl of food and water that was originally put out of reach of the kittens. No wonder they were hungry. "Come on, kitties, time to eat while Jaiden cleans…" The bowl is placed at the foot of the stairs in a puddle of light from one of the windows where it is positively devoured by the mass of kittens surrounding the bowl. Yes, there are a few fights over who gets to eat what, but all in all, once the pecking order is straightened out, it's quiet save for the occasional crunch of kibble.

The dress is lifted and sniffed again, those scents remembered from waking up briefly from a dream with Delia's hair beneath his nose, shifting slightly, and then falling back into the dream where disney characters were inserted into one of the wilder dreams Jaiden has ever had. Painting signposts to confuse potential nazi invaders combined with a dancing lion and Angela Landsbury? If he could publish it, he'd make millions!

"Hello, Huruma-cat." Jaiden scratches her behind the ears. "The lady upstairs…she doesn't understand very well. She means well, but sometimes cats don't speak in ways humans can hear. She tries, though, so give her a little slack, okay?" He talks as if the cat can understand him and, given the look here and there, she just might.

The dress is reluctantly put back into its box, folded as he found it, and closed.

He hopes Delia's okay. He prays that he'll see her again soon.

He starts to clean.

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