She pulled something off the wardrobe and carried it to the bed. It was a tatty white cardboard office box covered in dust. She carefully took the lid off and peered inside. She knew what lay there already, having spent countless hours going through the box over the years.

She lifted out items; a pink teddy bear, a pair of yellow boots, sleep suits, bibs, a blue knitted hat, a tiny nappy, baby wipes, a bar of soap, a cream blanket and at the bottom a small sliver picture frame.

There was a heavy weight in her chest and a stinging pain in her heart. Her mind was screaming that it wasn’t fair. She put the box on the floor and sat down. The bed springs creaked loudly, the sound unpleasant and unwelcome.

The teddy stared at her. It had been in a charity shop window, sitting in a mosses basket. She had gone in, brought it and left feeling satisfied. The bear had lived on her desk at work, until her new boss had asked her to remove it. Since then the poor thing had been stuff into the box.

 Putting the teddy down, she picked up the booties. They had been her’s. Knitted by her grandma and trimmed with matching ribbon. She brought them to her nose and breathed in deeply. The faint scent of lavender and baby powered took root in her mind. She picked up the knitted hat. It was tiny and misshaped. She had made it, one of her first attempts at knitting.

The baby wipes she had kept in her handbag. Somehow they had ended up in the box. She reopened the seal and let the scent drift out. It was a smell she guessed clung to all babies. She pictured herself changing and cleaning her baby. Gently, she used the wipes across soft, warm skin, whilst making cooing noises.

There was nothing special about the soap, just that it was small and non-perfumed. A part of her wasn’t sure why she had kept it, but she had felt the need too. She liked the idea of bathing with her baby. She had seen a black and white photograph in a gallery of a mother and baby in a birthing pool. She had liked the idea of giving birth that way.  

At the tiny nappy, she stopped and remembered how she had taken it. A work college had brought her baby into the office. Everyone had gathered around and she had taken the chance to remove the nappy from the pram. She still didn’t know why she had done that. She had slipped it into her own bag and then gone to hold the baby. He had been so small, which had surprised her, but for a few seconds she could believe that he belonged to her.

The wrapped clothes still had price tags on. She had often imagined the joy of ripping them open and placing them on her baby. How lovely her baby would look going out in a pale pink or blue outfit. On laundry day, she would love preparing the clothes to be worn again. She would buy special clothes for important occasions, like Christmas and birthdays.

Swallowing, she picked up the blanket. How soft it was! She pressed it to her cheek and rubbed against it. She would wrap her baby in this and hold them tightly. She would stare down into that angelic face and watch them sleep. She would feel fulfilled and content and as if she had found her place in the world.   

Tears appeared in her eyes. She buried her face in the blanket and cried hard. She rocked back and forth, letting the pain consumer her. The only thing she could think of was the fact that she’d never know what motherhood felt like. She would never carry a baby, give birth and hold her new born to her chest. She would know the emptiness forever. 

Dropping the blanket into her lap, she brushed away the tears. Shuffling the box over, she placed the blanket in then the empty sliver frame, followed by the other items. Though, she shouldn’t let her hope bubble, she wanted the next time taking the items out to be because her baby needed them. Just like she had said last time, but she knew deep down that none of those clothes would ever be worn. 

She put the lid on the box and stored it away again. She went to the window. Her hands grasped the curtains. A tapping noise and movement on the other side of the glass caught her eye. A large white month was fluttering against the night. She watched it for a few moments then closed the curtains.