I am reasonably certain they don’t know what I’m for.

This isn’t because they’re ignorant in general, but more likely because their parents – maybe grandparents, it’s been such a long time since I was out of the box – only used me when they were throwing me at their own parents and shouting about Birmingham. It took years for the stench of pot and politics to fade from the lining.

Then, I measured the passage of time in Christmases and Thanksgivings and Easters, when we’d all be taken out and put to use. I was sometimes horrifically employed on – of all things – pickles, but at least I got fresh air and scrubbing.

Now I measure the passage of time in Vinyl Cafe Christmas specials coming faintly from next door. The walls are thin, and the neighbour’s hearing is going, so I can hear Stuart McLean almost clearly.

The world is changing.

They bring out our case in the middle of summer for some kind of dinner party, and it’s almost like our first owners’ weekly formal dinner parties. But now they are puzzling over why the knives are different sizes, not able to tell which are dinner knives and which are butter knives. The spoons cringe, and the fish forks swear like sailors as they are deemed dessert forks.

I am passed over as “I don’t know, some kind of fish fork?”

I would that I could snarl at them. I have served judges and mafia kingpins and celebrities. Even men who died as petty criminals had more awareness of the way things worked.

The box closes with me still in it, and I am in the closet with a few serving spoons and the dessert forks while the dinner progresses. The serving spoons complain in their ponderous way until I threaten to scratch them.

Dubstep wubs through the apartment, shivering up through the box to rattle us. I liked it better when live jazz threaded through a room after dinner, when the marmoreal elegance of the lady of the house hadn’t been replaced by workman’s trousers. I must grudgingly concede that the CBC has improved their programming over the years, but that is the only thing, I think.

The sounds fade with time, and then the dishwasher starts.

The box opens, and there is light and air and the lingering smell of chicken. The knives are placed again amongst us. They are mottled faintly black and blue, an unhealthy shimmer all over them. Collective horrified silence greets them.

The box goes back in the closet, the damage they’ve wreaked hidden and ignored. Time passes.

The closet is emptied, contents sorted into piles to be packed, sold, donated, and trashed. A susurration of horror passes between us. We’ve been with the family for years and years, but these miscreants and wastrels – well, at least we end up in the pile to be sold. At least they recognize that we are worth something.

I am shaking in rage as we are loaded into their car. Three – or was it four? – unbroken generations of service, and we’re not even being offered to siblings. We are taken to a consignment store as if we were never of any importance at all.

A sticker is slapped on the exterior of the box, which has grown dry since the days it was oiled at least once a month. I wonder how we’ve been valued.

Not much, not near enough, since we are there for only a day. The car that takes us to our new home is quiet and well climate-controlled. We are put in a drawer, and I expect that to be the end of it.

Mere hours later, the box opens, and a man reaches in with hands that smell of silver polish. The spoons are immediately in love, but I withhold judgement. I doubt he’ll know what I’m for, either.

Then we’re back in the box and the drawer is closed.

There is no neighbour with CBC here, and thus no entertainment nor way to tell time. It doesn’t feel like long, though, before the box is opening again.

The butter knives are first out, and he doesn’t hesitate at all to pick them apart from the dinner knives. Then the soup spoons and salad forks and dinner forks. The fish forks are left in their partition, and I anticipate that I will be as well.

There are sounds of a table being set, and so it seems this will be the end of it, until the hands return. The snobby cheese knives with the mother-of-pearl handles are extracted, and then slim fingers return for me.

I anticipate some manner of indignity, like antipasto or relish. Bundled with those awful knives, we approach a kitchen island laid out with amuse-bouches, amongst them – [i]oh[/i]. He intends to put me to my true use. I will have purpose again. I do not care how long I will have to wait between uses, because here, here I am fully myself.

I sink into the dish of olives with a satisfied sigh.
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