The Way We Lied

Downstairs, my mother was remonstrating with Ben who wanted his contribution to be contained in an old Nike trainer. “But Ma, that’s how we dress now! It’s cool and people will want to know what we thought was cool in a hundred years time !”
“Absolutely not Ben. It’s a dirty, smelly old shoe and anyway there won’t be enough room in the chest for it. Take it away, right this minute!” She dismissed him with a wave of her hand and he stamped off.
We all gathered around the kitchen table and the gold envelopes, our sweet wrappers, crisp packets, newspapers and videos were placed in the box. Uncle Nick sealed it with lots of brown sticky tape and wrapped it in a plastic bin bag, then it was carried out into the garden.
“Count how many paces it is from the back door,” my mother instructed. “We want to leave a note recording its whereabouts somewhere in the house.”
Charles and Nick lowered the box into the hole they had dug earlier and we all stood around looking at the plastic chest in its crypt.
“Goodbye 20th century,” said my father solemnly. “Farewell to the past.” He looked tense and serious, as he frequently did when he came home from work. I thought he must be worried about something bad in the news, as he often was.
“Bye, bye box!” Daisy and Lily squealed, jumping up and down, then running away across the lawn to hide.
“Good riddance more like,” I heard Simon mutter. He looked even grumpier than usual. Helen was by his side and she looked sad and tired this morning.
Aunt Sarah was the most cheerful of all the adults. She was smiling. “New Year, fresh start I always say. I hope you’ve all made your New Year resolutions and are going to stick to them. I know I’m going to. I love making resolutions.”
My mother held me close. “Remember where it is,” she said softly. “Then you might come back one day to find it. Wouldn’t that be fun?” She kissed me on the top of my head, the way she had often done when I was much younger. I thought she looked sad today too, or perhaps she was just very tired. She had done such an awful lot of cooking yesterday.
Charles started to fill the hole with soil, murmuring, “The present is the funeral of the past, and man the living sepulchre of life.” I think someone asked him what that meant and he said it was a quote.
My father replaced the coverlet of turf on top of the freshly dug soil. He patted it down then stroked it very slowly, almost caressing it.
Then he stood up and walked away while Ben and Tom jumped up and down on the spot to firm the turf, shouting, “Wake the dead! Arise Dracula!” The grass was soon flattened, but you could still see where the hole had been dug. “Film us Amy,” they screamed. “Put this in the film!”
Later, at three o’clock in the afternoon just as the red winter sun was starting to set behind black trees, we gathered in the living room for the first showing of our film. It was reminiscent of many such first nights we had experienced during our childhood. Every year we had concocted some form of drama to supposedly entertain the adults, but in reality to entertain ourselves, since the planning, the rehearsal and the making were really the heart of the matter.
When I was six we had re-enacted scenes from The Sound of Music; when Amy and I were eight we were both taking ballet lessons and so we presented our own version of the Nutcracker Suite, which we had been taken to see just two weeks before Christmas. And now it was a film premiere, with the adults fidgeting like bored children, tinkling their tea cups instead of beakers of coke and nibbling mince pies instead of popcorn.

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