Prompt: Raspberry stained.
Response: Elle retrieved the box from the closet's top shelf. It was dusty and crumbling - the residual brown tape that had once kept it closed was curled up at the edges like a fallen leaf.
Elle bit her lip as she perched it on the edge of the bed. It did not look so intimidating sitting on the floral comforter as it had seemed while it lurked on the closet's shelf. It looked somehow deflated.
She found her hands shaking as she brushed a finger's width line of dust from its top. The cardboard was so old that the edges of the flaps no longer felt crisp or sharp, but had taken on a soft texture. Elle opened it slowly, though she knew that it would probably be better just to get it over with.
As the flaps unfolded they revealed a frothy mound of white fabric. Elle sighed.
She remembered folding the dress before putting it into the box - it had such a full skirt that folding it had been difficult and she had been so angry that impatience had gotten the better of her. The light fabric had stuck to the sweat on her arms, making it even harder to fold. It was so different. The air was so stale in the house - close to cold - that the fabric just slithered out of the box, unfolding so gently.
The pleat running down the back of the sun dress was crinkled to the side, making the hem run in an uneven line. It brushed Elle's knees, making her shiver, as she turned it around to the raspberry stained front.
Like a cheesy movie, Elle saw a younger, more carefree version of herself in the white dress. The perfect white dress that she had been so excited to slip into. The perfect white dress that had made her feel so childishly princess-like. The perfect white dress that Aaron had complimented so profusely - making her blush like a school girl.
She remembered the summer raspberries and how it had been so hot, so humid, that you could taste them on the warm breezes that drifted like lazy streamers marking the house of a child having a birthday. She remembered picking them until her fingers were sore and sticky. Elle remembered eating more of them than ending up in the basket. She remembered Aaron bringing particularly ripe berries to her lips until they were as sticky as her hands.
Elle remembered laughing.
She put the dress on her lap, finally noticing a tear sliding down her cheek.
Elle remembered going home to put the raspberries away and Aaron smiling so sweetly as he leaned in to press a kiss to her cheek. He was still smiling when he fell toward her, knocking her over. Elle remembered trying to catch him and falling with him. She remembered crying so hard that even if she had cared about the raspberry staining on the front of her perfect white dress she would not have cared.
And after Aaron was gone, she remembered folding the dress (or at least trying to) and stuffing it into the box on top of his pictures. She had not eaten a raspberry since that day - or worn white.
And now she was moving away. Elle refolded the dress - more carefully than she had the last time. She put it back into the box, trying her hardest not look at the pictures underneath it.
Her sister had told her she should be happy that the last expression on Aaron's face was a smile - that the last thing he did was a kiss, but Elle remembered more than that. She remembered the long minutes of EMTs trying to restart Aaron's heart - the tubes and wires and the horrible bloodlessness of his face.
Elle closed her eyes. She pictured Aaron's gently open lips as he offered her a raspberry and the sunlight shining off of his hair. She pictured his sweet grin as he swung their clasped hands. And for the first time since she put the box onto the closet's shelf, Elle heard Aaron laughing.
Elle closed the box and took it off her bed.