From My Weekly’s archives
Boxes In The Loft by Sally Jenkins
Robert had a secret all boxed up and stored safely in Lisa’s loft until…
Robert Sullivan was late.
When a battered Volvo finally pulled up outside, I opened the front door before its driver had even walked up the path.
“Robert Sullivan.” He introduced himself. “I’ve come about the advert.”
“Lisa Jones.” I shook his hand.
He was unexpectedly tall, dark and handsome. Then I noticed the ring on his left hand – like so many fanciable men, he was already taken. Don’t even consider him, I told myself.
“Shall I fetch my stuff in?” he asked.
“Er… yes. I haven’t done this before.”
“Me neither.” His smile was disarming. “We can learn together.”
Robert Sullivan carried ten large cardboard boxes through my hall, up the stairs and to the foot of the loft ladder.
“Do you need some help?” I asked.
“No. I’m fine.”
Robert was wearing a close-fitting T-shirt and black jeans. As he laboured up into the loft under the weight of each box I admired the stretch and flex of his well-defined muscles.
“£2 per box, per month, according to your ad on RentStorage.com.” Robert produced a £20 note. He hesitated before continuing. “Is it alright if I bring some more next week, Lisa?”
I kidded myself it was his rent money I was interested in
To my delight Robert Sullivan began coming every week, bringing a couple more boxes each time. I kidded myself it was only his rent money I was interested in, but I couldn’t help straightening my hair and getting changed before he was due.
“Where’s all this stuff coming from?” I asked him one day.
“Having a clear out.”
“Doesn’t that mean throwing things away, not storing them elsewhere?”
“I’m a hoarder but my wife hates clutter. She insisted I take all this to a charity shop.”
“So storing it here is a secret?”
As time went on he only brought one box each visit and carried it up the ladder in double quick time.
Then one week he turned up without his wedding ring.
“Is everything OK?” I asked, staring at his left hand as we drank the coffee I’d made.
“Sort of. Months ago I discovered my wife was seeing a work colleague, and she refused to finish it – even though I did everything to please her, like this de-cluttering.”
My heart leapt at the thought of Robert’s marriage ending. Then I scolded myself for being pleased at someone else’s misfortune.
“And then I met… someone else,” Robert continued.
“Oh.” I felt worse than when I thought he was happily married.
“I’ve only one more box to bring,” he continued more cheerfully. “See you next week?”
Was there a secret way to his heart?
After he’d gone I wondered how someone else had succeeded in winning Robert over when I’d failed, despite seeing him every week. Was there a secret way to his heart?
At least his boxes in the loft meant we wouldn’t lose touch completely.
The boxes! They might hold a clue to what made him tick. Nervously, I climbed the loft ladder. One of the boxes blocked my path from the ladder onto the loft boards. I leant against it to push it away, but there was no resistance and I almost went flying as the box shot under the eaves.
I stood up and approached the cardboard cube cautiously. Why was it so light? Feeling like a criminal I eased the tape off the flaps and looked inside.
Empty! This box and the next and the next were all totally empty. Only the ten original boxes were loaded up with books and CDs. Why?
On Saturday Robert arrived at the usual time but he was wearing a shirt and tie. He looked so attractive it hurt. This “someone else” was a lucky woman.
“Last box.” He handed me a shoe box inscribed For Lisa.
Startled, I removed the lid to reveal a red rose and a card.
“To my ‘someone else’. Please come to dinner with me tonight,” I read aloud. My heart thumped and I felt wobbly.
Later we gazed at each other over a candle-lit restaurant table.
“Why did you put empty boxes in my loft?” I asked.
“I needed a reason to keep coming round until I found the courage to ask you out.”
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