The past is a vast attic -- the dusty toy, the old album, the forgotten fury, must mixing with desire.

Some experiences glow all the brighter for being gone. Youth is like that. Years take away the gawky pain leave only the sweet taste of first times.

Other moments are so bitter that no number of years will dull the sorrow. "If you want to keep the beer REAL cold," moans a country and western song, "put it right next to my ex-wife's heart."

But we are more faithful than we know to the things we leave behind, to the spent emotions, the discounted dream, to the fears we've fought and the lovers we've left. Here then are a few tales of former times, ornaments from the attic, shadows of the future.

My ex-lover was a heavy smoker.

But that's not what bothered me.

Please, I repeatedly asked during our two years, together, don't grind out your cigarettes on the dinner plates.

Why not? he reasoned unreasonably. You always wash them.

Often he would stay up late . . . reading, smoking, snacking, smoking, writing, smoking.

He slept late.I didn't.

I would walk into the kitchen for morning tea. There would be the remnants of his night before . . . shirt hanging on the chair, shoes and socks under the table, china overflowing with butts and ashes and crusts of bread.

I would do a slow burn.

Finally, I had had enough.

He followed his usual late-night routine. I brewed my morning tea. Then resolutely I picked up the soup bowl brimming with stinking ashes and dumped the contents into his shoe, dressed and left for work.

He never mentioned it, never said a word, but a few weeks later he moved out.