This story is in honor of C. S. Lewis whose Narnia series had a big influence on me.
I have so many happy memories of grandpa and his stories. Even as an adult, I treasured our Sunday visits to the nursing home with my own children. Grandpa would sit in his favorite rocker and spin a wild tale of strange talking animals and magical beasts, purple skies and golden grass. My children would sit around him listening just as I once did. Their eyes as big as saucers and many the occasional exclamation of, “Oh wow,” and, “Really?!” followed by, “Tell it again Grandpa.”
One Christmas when I turned nine, grandpa gave me the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Inside the cover, it read, “Because you love my stories more than all my other grandchildren.” Oh, and I did.
Now I dabble at my own fantastical stories, but none are as good as grandpa’s.
My thoughts return to the moment as the furniture movers bring in grandpa’s old roll top desk. I had it placed in my study, along the wall that ran from the window to the door. I had bookshelves there once. Now those shelves were nestled in my closet and the junk was packed away in several boxes that my husband stashed in the attic. Grandpa’s old rocker had gone to my brother and his living room furniture had long since been auctioned off to help pay for final expenses.
No matter, I got the best part. I knew the sight of grandpa’s old desk would inspire some wonderful tales. I got out the furniture polish and gave the treasured piece a good shine.
Three days later, while I sat at my computer desk, in my office chair and a blank word document up on my laptop, inspiration had fled. I couldn’t think of a single thing. I turned the chair and gazed at grandpa’s old roll top.
As a child, I’d never been allowed to open it. Now, the desk and its contents belonged to me. Did grandpa keep his stories in side? Or maybe in one of the locked drawers in front?
When grandpa passed, his lawyer gave an envelope. It contained the keys to his roll top which was made of mahogany. Plain without decoration.
I stood. I don’t know why I didn’t open it immediately when the desk had arrived. I guess it was out of respect for grandpa. He’d catch me trying to lift the roll top desk lid and laugh. “Not now Sugar Plum,” he’d say and pat my head.
Surely, grandpa wouldn’t care anymore? He did leave them to me.
I opened my computer desk drawer and retrieved the envelope and opened it.
The long key was very similar to a skeleton key except more intricate with five cuts past the shoulder and before the squared off tip. A dragon head was carved into the head of the key and made of the same grey metal. I thought it odd that the desk should be so plain and the key so intricate. There was a drawer key as well with a little round tag that said so. Nothing special about it.
Now that I held the keys in my hand the only thing left was to open the desk. I was nervous. No idea why.
I opened the drawers first and found nothing. Well, there was a small paper clip in one of them. Putting the drawer key back on my computer desk I grabbed the dragon head key and went back to the top.
There’s nothing in there, silly.
But there was. All the cubie holes had little glass jars that were sealed and labeled. Faerie dust, unicorn hair, dragon whiskers…really?! Dragon whiskers? And I started humming the song, ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.’ Don’t ask why, I don’t know.
After reading each one and peering through the glass at what it contained, I put them all back inside their cubie hole. Grandpa’s imagination was great.
In the drawer above were you sit I found a map. I pulled it out and walked to my computer desk so I could sit and read it. There were mountains and valleys, several volcanoes, rivers, streams and lakes. All of them named to fit one of grandpa’s stories. In the center was the town I’d heard about for years, Kalidan.
Grandpa obviously collected items from living animals, rocks and dust, giving them each a fantastical name. He took the time to create a wonderfully detailed map and put it on parchment to add authenticity. But, nowhere could I find a single word written down. I really wanted to write his stories down and even publish them in honor of his memory. Would my memories be enough?
I put his map back, shut the roll top, but I didn’t lock it. Super time. I had to cook and spend a little time with my husband and children. My son was in his last year of high school and the girls were right behind him. Teenagers. Are parents ever prepared?
I awoke to an elephant’s trumpet and sat up in bed. Glancing at the clock I read 3 A.M. on the lit display.
Another noise followed the elephant. Then giggles and a roar. They were close. Too close. I got up and put on my bathrobe to gaze out the bedroom window at the street below. Light from the street lamps told me no one, or animal was about. Glancing at my husband I could tell he hadn’t been disturbed.
Another cry from that elephant told me something was going on. Had the T.V. been left running on Animal Planet?
I slipped into my slippers and left the bedroom being careful to shut the door quietly. Descending the stares the voices got louder.
“Where are we?”
“The wizard moved.”
Outside my study door I could hear a cacophony of noise coming from within. I opened the door. Immediately, three faeries flew past. A unicorn was eating papers in my trash. A dragon hunched in the corner while ash gray smoke lifted from his nostrils and tickled his whiskers. Whiskers!
Glancing at the roll top desk I saw the lid open and an elephant pulling free of one of the drawers. I heard in my head Grandpa say, “I always keep my desk locked, especially at night.”
Word Count: 1,050