Fascinated by the bottles of perfume arrayed along the top,   I slide open the top drawer, where to the left  Hankies are folded in neat triangles, while to the right, Tidily arranged, little glass dishes hold hair pins hair nets and barrettes. There are lipsticks and bottles of nail polish, with caps shaped like a fingernail. There is powder and a powder puff. A small packet of sen-sen.  the drawer is lined with pretty paper and a soft scent rises in the air and I stifle a sneeze.

I peek under the orderly handkerchiefs and find an old black and white photograph.  It’s my mother; she is very young; I hardly recognize this smiling young girl.  She is standing next to a man in uniform.  He is not my father. I turn the photograph over and on the backside of the picture is an inscription in a lovely handwriting.  It reads “To the one I will love for the rest of my life”.  There is no signature.

I have a guilty feeling, knowing I have been snooping and have seen something I shouldn’t. I never mention it to my mother. Not ever. Not even when she was old and frail and dying.  To this day I don’t know who the man in uniform was.

From downstairs my mother calls out “Sandra?  What are you doing up there?”

I call back “Nothing. Just getting a hankie”.


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