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A Place Holder Today


By Sylvia Li

"You're not going to remember this."

I was five, going on six. Our family was moving out of the top-floor Montreal apartment that was the only home my younger brother and I had known.

Our belongings were packed into boxes already, including my favourite doll Gloria. Mummy had done that quietly behind my back. Gloria's once-shimmering dress was not so glorious as when she'd been new last Christmas. Her real rooted hair was tangled now, impossible to comb and to tell the truth, my efforts in that direction had made her a little bald. Her blue eyes still closed when I laid her down. I'd have been worried about her if I'd known she was all closed up in a box.

The moving men were coming and going, nearly done taking the furniture and boxes down to the truck. It was time to say goodbye to this place.

Daddy took us down the long hall to "the Bobs room" at the far end, where my Uncle Bob had stayed when he didn't have any place else to go. Uncle Bob was married now.

Robby had sometimes slept in that room and sometimes I had. Sometimes other family members had stayed there when they visited but for us, that room's permanent name was the Bobs room.

Daddy, Robby, and I made our way back, hand in hand, room by room, kindly acknowledging each one because we had been happy here, while Mummy dusted and swept.

When we got to the front living room, Daddy took the phone down from the waist-high telephone shelf and set it on the floor. The phone was black, of course. All phones were black in those days and they all belonged to the telephone company. The shelf was a tall niche built right into the wall. It had always held the phone book and the telephone and nothing else.

Daddy lifted each of us up to sit on that high shelf where we had never, ever sat before. "You're not going to remember this," he told us.

But we do. Both of us do.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.


A poignant memory.

Lovely, simple, sweet memory. Thank you.

Ah,memories. Some things are never forgotten. Your lovely doll was so vividly described that I could just see her. How we loved our dolls.

You brought back a few memories for me, Sylvia. Thank you for yours.

Charming! Thank you.

How sweet, saying goodbye to each room.

Love this!

Moving Day ~~ Oh, wow, how I loved it, too. It spoke directly to me !! I have been a follower of short stories, and short shorts, ever since a professor once spoke of his love of shorts.....that often he'd run across really great ones, and "sometimes they can be a better read than some novels seeming to have been stretched out with extra words to fit the book cover".

Wonerful, wonderful - and how wise your parents were to establish a ritual like this...had we all been so fortunate to have said goodbye to all the beloved rooms we left and we grew and moved on...

I love this! So evocative. Takes me back — and forward; I hope to be moving in the not-too-distant future.

Delightful story brought back memories — parting with some belongings I occasionally think of even today from when I was young — others that didn’t get packed when I couldn’t be there but there hadn’t been room for them, I guess, when I was older. Also, young children remember much more than adults often realize they do. But, moving, I decided was always a double-edged sword — leaving people behind but making new friends I wouldn’t want to miss knowing.

Elegantly told and powerful with its emotions.

I just love your writing.

Thank you, Sylvia, for this sweet, charming remembrance.

I've used good-bye ceremonies of thanks and gratitude for homes, cars, places as well as people and love making life's changes special, in that usually silent way.
Your writing of this was lovely.

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