One morning I decided to have a scratch around right at the back of my cupboard.  Usually I opened the door a crack and shoved things in.  After all these years it was pretty full, so anything new had to be really crammed in there.  The pressure of my pushing new things in at the front of the cupboard squashed the old things at the back of the cupboard and they became broken down and smushed together, compacted into one indistinguishable mass.  Until this morning when, feeling – maybe lost, maybe a little unhinged, certainly uncertain, certainly scared – a little bored, I decided to start excavating. 

I was a big fan of cupboards.  A cupboard was life.  A cupboard was independence.  A cupboard was a status symbol.  A cupboard was somewhere to put things.  In a land of inanimate objects, I was a living breathing animal thing and every day I wandered around, picking things up, putting things down, thinking.

Right at the back of the cupboard, in amongst some old letters that had been broken down by time and weight until they became indecipherable, a pulpy mess of paper and ink… I found a basketball, shrunken like an old tangerine.  It was the size of a thumbnail.

But I remembered playing with that basketball, eras ago when it was all different. 

On a Saturday afternoon, a friend and I would shoot hoops in his back yard.  Neither of us were good at basketball, nor did we want to be, and we threw the ball listlessly – it was something to do as we talked about the tv we were watching, the books we wanted to read, pop music.

For about 20 minutes that tiny desiccated basketball transported me back in time, but I needed more so I put on my shoes and coat and left the building, mooching through town until I got to my friend’s old house – actually it had been his parents’ house because back then we were only kids.  The house was still there, but in the back yard a block of flats had been built. 


That back yard had only been, what, maybe ten foot by ten foot?  Can’t have been much more than that.  There was enough room for us to stand at the back door of the house and throw the ball at the hoop attached to the wall.  I’m not saying there’s anything unusual about building a block of flats in such a small space but it threw me when I saw it.  I just never expect the world to make changes, even after all these years.

I closed my eyes, brought my hands to my head and squeezed gently – the pressure on my skull felt good, comforting.

I opened my eyes again and looked up at the block of flats.  It was quite tall.  Wow, I thought.  I wonder how many cupboards are in that thing.


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