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Title: Give and Take Day
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Rating: G
Length: 735 words
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes JWP 2016 Prompt #3: A Cardboard Box. Unbeta'd, so please feel free to point out any errors.
Summary: These events are an opportunity for City residents having a clear-out, to make sure unwanted items are reused, recycled or disposed of responsibly whilst also supporting the local community.

When Elsa arrived at the Community Centre, there was already a pile of boxes outside the door.

"Oy, give us a hand, love," she called to a man at the end of the block, but he limped away round the corner without a backwards glance. She used the hand-trolley to bring them inside, being careful of her back, and began sorting the donations.

The heaviest box was labeled Books. It was full of textbooks, all about chemistry and medicine and science, along with some of those 'real crime' books. Elsa guessed they might have been donated by a student at uni. The books weren't in very good condition, covered in stains and burns, some with the bindings half off. Chances were she'd be posting them on Freecycle at the end of the day.

The next box was labeled Kitchen and Bath. There were a number of mugs, some cracked or chipped, lots of glass thingies that looked like they'd come from a mad scientist's laboratory, two hair-dryers, and some really nice, expensive men's hair and skin care products. They weren't meant to accept those on Give and Take day, but Elsa put them aside for her son-in-law.

Bedroom, said the next box. Elsa opened it to find two sets of super-soft sheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers, sized for a small-double bed. They'd not all been washed; Elsa smelled a spicy, musky men's cologne as she rubbed one of the pillowcases against her face. Not a problem - high-quality bedding like that would get snapped up first thing. Elsa was surprised they'd been donated, honestly. Perhaps the student was moving in with his girlfriend, Elsa thought with a smile, and she'd insisted on a double, maybe even a king size bed. Ah, young love.

The next box said Clothing. A number of suits were jumbled up inside, not folded properly at all. Elsa tsked under her breath. A shame to treat a good suit like that. Elsa took the first suit out and hung it up to admire it. And - oh dear. This wasn't just a good suit. It was the kind of suit you'd see on tele, worn by models and movie stars. Elsa'd bet it cost over a thousand quid. This one suit. And there were another dozen in the box, never mind the posh shoes.

The cheerful university student Elsa had built up in her mind, dropping off a set of boxes on the way to move in with his girlfriend, evaporated. She imagined a pretty young boffin's widow, crying as she emptied out her husband's side of the closet. The poor dear. Not old enough for them to have considered life-insurance, or to qualify for a Bereavement Allowance. She really ought to have kept the suits; sold them to cover the bills.

Elsa was just cutting the packing tape on the box marked Bric-a-Brac when there was a knock at the door. She shuffled across the room and opened it to find a young lady in a trouser suit, very professional, looking down at her phone.

"Hello, dropping off?" Elsa greeted her.

"Not exactly," the woman said crisply. "There were some boxes left here earlier this morning, in error. I'm here to retrieve them."

Elsa looked the woman over. She clearly wasn't in mourning, but she looked tired, her mascara not quite even. "You mustn't be angry with your sister," Elsa told her.

"Pardon?" she said, confused.

"I know it must seem impulsive, her giving all his things away, and she likely can't afford it, but people grieve in different ways."

"I'll keep that in mind," she said. "The boxes?"

Elsa helped the woman pack the items back up. She carried them out to a big black car parked on the street.

"I'm glad she has you looking out for her," Elsa said as the woman had a final look-round for anything they might have missed.

"Mmm. Well, someone has to, and I seem to be the only one who hasn't lost my mind in the past week," she said, texting on her phone. "Thank you," she said, making eye contact for the first time, and then turned around and walked out of the Centre.

Elsa felt a bit embarrassed when she found the bottles of skin and hair-care products under the table, later that day, but it's not as if the boffin needed them where he was going.

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