'Olive' by Chris Drew

Grandma kept a box of buttons. The box was polished walnut, the lid cluttered with seashells: coffee beans, rose petals, white slipper snails, bay scallops. You remember the wood, oil wet as though dredged from the bottom of the ocean. A treasure chest overflowing with jewels. You would plunge your finger into the middle of the box and pull it out again, slowly, the buttons rushing together like quicksand, glittering in the dusty sunlight. Twilight blue, cherry red, peacock green, sunset orange. Some flat and clear as stained glass, others round and river-pebble smooth. You would pile them in your hand and clench your fist, pressing their patterned surfaces into the soft pads of your skin. She would divide them between you, play newmarket, snap, pick-up-sticks, not even registering the gentle tick of the mantel clock, the hands coming together like a prayer. You remember the biggest button. Your favourite. You would scoop it out, cup it in the hollow of your palm, the shallow concave of its olive-green face reflecting the shadow of her upside-down image.

You have other memories, but this is the one she would give you.

The one you would keep.


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