“I took a step to my left and held the broken shoes over a trash can.
The cobbler elves gasped, all together, and froze in place.
‘Do not do this,’ Keef begged me. ‘Lost all is not. Repaired they can be. Good as new we can fix them. Good as new! Do not throw them away.’”
-Jim Butcher, “It’s My Birthday Too,” Side Jobs
I don’t think I’m a hoarder. Then again, isn’t that what a hoarder would say? In any case, it’s hard for me to throw things away. On the bookshelf near my desk, I have a three foot power cable cut from a broken lamp my friend had tossed. (I’m stripping the plastic off, and the wire below is beautiful. It could be woven into an interesting piece of art, couldn’t it?). I have a foot of red ribbon. I have half a candle. I have a turtle shell. That’s a sad story, so I won’t tell it. I have a foil swan that’s two years old, and the wooden cubes from a brain teaser that broke three years ago, and homemade soap, though for the life of me I can’t remember who made it or why they gave it to me. Someone ploughed through the metal crosswalk tower near my house. A few weeks later, I took a piece of its shattered metal from the gutter, and right now it’s a paperweight. I pick up pencils from parking lots, wondering what words are still in them. I have a pair of cargo shorts from when I was twelve–the seams are ripped, but I cut some of the cloth to repair my backpack, and I turned one of the pockets into cloth buttons for a Max Where The Wild Things Are costume.
In Butcher’s story, Dresden, a wizard, threatens the cobbler elves by holding a pair of old shoes over the trash. (He’s usually a good guy, but he needs their help quick). Once the shoes are in the trash, the elves can’t repair them. I wonder if that’s why I still have the ribbon and the power cable. Throwing something away is saying it’s trash. That seems like saying it’s useless, and that no one will make it into something useful or beautiful. I don’t know if I want to say that about anything I’ve ever seen.
Maybe I just keep expecting to find the cobbler elf Keef–or, if that fails, to be a little more like him.