The writers’ corner: ‘Pennies in the Attic’
Hello there, Connector readers! Here’s a new nonfiction Writers’ Corner piece, “Pennies in the Attic,” by fourth-year animation major Darissa Townes to kick off our new quarter!
Pennies in the Attic
by Darissa Townes
Sometimes the things you leave behind can tell other people about who you used to be. Crayon drawings on a wall in a house may suggest that children once lived there. Wear and tear on a rug might mean days of heavier traffic.
My mother recently moved into a new house in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I went to help her settle in. Among the typical moving-in processes like unloading trunks, hauling heavy furniture and putting together shelves, cleaning out her new attic for more storage space was yet another job to be done.
Luckily, the process of sweeping the attic seemed to breeze by thanks to the variety of objects left behind by the unknown previous residents. A pair of camouflage pants lay in the corner. A menu to a Japanese restaurant lay next to one of the support beams and an instruction manual to a TV remote was left neatly next to the insulation.
I found myself especially fascinated by the large amount of pennies that were scattered across the floor, gathering 25 cents worth. While picking up the loose change, I also added to my collection a large, crimped earring, a pin the shape of a white flower and a pencil sharpener. In my eyes, these small trinkets seemed a little too big to just throw away.
The idea of an attic was always something new to me. From my childhood home to my cousins’ house, the attic was a room that was almost never accessible to me. Yet here I was at a new house where I could not only get to the attic through a simple staircase, but get to an attic that had been used frequently. As I took the time to clean off my treasures, it made me wonder what they may have been used for in that loft.
Perhaps the pencil sharpener belonged to a child. I recalled there being a school bus stop right in front of the house. Maybe the child would do his or her homework in the attic.
Maybe the flower pin belonged to a young woman. It was a rather delicate-looking pin, which suggested that it was a more formal accessory, perhaps for church.
The large amount of loose change strewn about the room had me stumped. Why would there be so many pennies? I remembered that there was a mini-mart down the street from Mom’s new house and many of her new neighbors would walk over there to get a drink. Perhaps the pennies in the attic were the change received from one of those trips. Maybe the child who owned the pencil sharpener would use his or her allowance to buy a snack before starting their homework. Maybe it was the pin-owning young lady who would buy a drink after church. Either way, both people found the need to toss the pennies aside.
There isn’t a surefire way to know who exactly left all of these items. It may not have been schoolchildren or Sunday morning worshippers. Whoever they were clearly didn’t care much for them if they left them in the attic.
I’ll probably never know who those previous residents were, so all I can do is imagine. And thanks to the lack of a confirmed history, it means that the interpretations are endless, making these little trinkets a lot more than useless junk.
Kate Betts is a staff writer for The Connector. She is an undergraduate writing major with an obsession with “Once Upon A Time” and her adorable gray kittens.