Charlie’s Room: The Postcard

“Look, it’s a postcard from Aunt Doris,” Marianne said. “It’s for you, Charlie.” She handed the postcard to Charlie.

“She must have gone leaf viewing again,” Charlie said. “It’s a pretty postcard.” He flipped it over. “She says to tell you hello, and I need to wear mittens and a hat when I go outside.”

He held it out to his mom. Marianne looked at it and smiled. “It is a pretty postcard. It’s amazing all the different colors the leaves can turn. Why don’t you keep that in your room?”

“I’ll go put it on my desk,” Charlie said. “What’s for dinner?”

“Baked potatoes,” Marianne said.

Charlie put the postcard on his desk and forgot about it.

 

The next day was Saturday. Charlie and Marianne were spreading out layers of shredded leaves on the garden as mulch. Isaac was inside vacuuming again. He worked to keep his vacuum lines in the carpet consistently parallel and breathed with the rhythm of the vacuum.

Isaac turned the corner and started vacuuming Charlie’s room. Crunch! He looked down. Brightly colored fall leaves were scattered on the carpet. Isaac looked over at the window. It was closed.

Had it been opened earlier? He looked at the leaves again. Some of the leaves came from trees that didn’t grow anywhere close to their yard.   Maybe Charlie had been collecting them?   Isaac turned off the vacuum. He picked up the leaves and found a box with a lid in the kitchen.

When he returned, there were leaves on the floor. Had he dropped some? He picked them up and put them in the box. Then he started vacuuming again.

A gust of wind outside rattled the windows. Leaves fell on the floor. Where did they come from? Isaac turned the vacuum off again. It looked like there were more leaves closer to Charlie’s desk.

Isaac picked up the leaves and put them in the box. Then he watched the desk and waited. A few minutes later, several gold and orange leaves flew out of a postcard propped up against the pencil sharpener. The leaves floated gently to the floor.

He picked up the postcard and flipped it over. “This is from Aunt Doris,” he said. “She must have gone to look at the fall leaves again.” He turned it back to the picture. It looked like a normal postcard.

He cautiously poked the picture with his finger. It felt like a normal postcard. A red maple leaf flew out of the postcard and hit his cheek. It was definitely not a normal postcard.

Isaac opened the leaf container and put the postcard in with the leaves.   Then he shut the lid and put the box on the desk. He finished vacuuming Charlie’s room. As he left the room, he put the box under one arm and steered the vacuum to the next room. He left the box on his dresser.

A half hour later, he returned to his room and opened the box. Leaves poured out. How did that many leaves even fit inside the box? They filled a garbage bag and kept coming. Maybe Great-Aunt Bethyl would like a nice postcard of autumn leaves? She knew what to do with strange things like this.

Isaac closed up the postcard inside the box again and took the bag of leaves out to the garden. “I have another bag of leaves for you,” Isaac said.

“Perfect,” Marianne said. “Just what we needed. I’ll go shred them.”

She took the bag and hurried away. Isaac smiled at Charlie. “How’s it going?” he asked.

“Great,” Charlie said. “We’re almost done.”

“It looks good,” Isaac said. “It’s like you’re covering the garden in a nice soft blanket.”

“Exactly,” Charlie said.

“I was thinking that maybe we could give your leaf postcard to Great-Aunt Bethyl,” Isaac said. “She’d really like it.”

“Sure,” Charlie said. “I can remember to wear my hat and mittens without it there to remind me.”

“Thanks,” Isaac said. “I’ll go send it to her now.”

Isaac called Great-Aunt Bethyl. Ten minutes later, a young man in a red polo shirt and sunglasses knocked on the door. Isaac handed him the box with the postcard inside. It was already too full of leaves again. He had to hold down the lid to keep it on.

The man thanked him, took the box, and strode away. As he turned the corner, there was a popping sound and leaves flew up from behind the fence. “Maybe I should have emptied the box before I gave it to him,” Isaac said.   He grabbed his rake and a garbage bag.   Fall leaves were so messy.   Pretty, but messy.

 

Isaac’s Adventures Underground: Chapter Three

Isaac reached the top of the basket and looked down.   The bark chips seemed to be a long way down. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to hide a spare key. Should he climb down the inside of the basket and look around anyway, or should he climb back down the outside of the basket and think of a new plan?

“What are you doing?” someone asked. Isaac spun around and nearly fell off the edge of the basket. He caught himself just in time.

He looked down and nearly fell off the basket again.   It was a giant spider. No, now that he was too small, it seemed like a giant spider. It was probably actually a normal spider. A normal spider that could talk.

“Hello,” Isaac said. “I didn’t know spiders could talk.”

“I didn’t know people could be so short,” the spider said. “So, why are you here?”

“I’m just looking for my way home,” Isaac said.

“What a coincidence,” the spider said. “I’ve been looking for a new home.”

“What happened to your old home?” Isaac asked.

“Too rainy. My web kept getting washed down the waterspout. I think next time I’m going to build with bricks. It’s much more sturdy,” the spider said. “What happened to your home?”

“It’s fine,” Isaac said. “I just lost my way.”

“How did you lose your way?” the spider asked.

“I fell down,” Isaac began.

“Did your way fall out of your pocket when you fell?” the spider interrupted. “It was careless of you to put something important like that in your pocket. You should tie it around your finger, like a promise. Then you’ll never forget it or lose it.”

“That’s not how I lost my way,” Isaac said. “It’s where it always was. I just can’t quite reach it right now.”

“Ah, you became separated. That’s what happens when you leave things out for too long,” the spider said. “You need to be careful to put things away. Still, it’s not too late. You’ll just need to give it a good shake the next time you have it,” the spider said.

“I don’t understand,” Isaac said.

“That’s too bad. I see that you’re one of those foolish people who learns by experience or not at all,” the spider said. He attached a fine, thin rope to the edge of the basket. “Well, I must continue my journey or it may cut itself short.”

“Wait,” Isaac said. “Can’t you tell me how to get out of this cave? I want to go home.”

But the spider was already using the rope to slowly glide down to the bark chips below. It looked a lot faster than climbing down the inside of the basket.   However, Isaac knew that he couldn’t just slide down the rope. That would hurt his hands. He had no idea how to rappel.   What if his arms weren’t strong enough and he let go? What if the rope wasn’t strong enough? He was a lot bigger than the spider, and probably heavier too.

Isaac sighed. It wasn’t that far down really. He’d just climb down the inside of the basket.

Climbing down was harder than climbing up, because he couldn’t see where he was going. Luckily, the weave of the basket was regular, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out.

He stepped down at the end of his climb and turned around. Instead of bark chips and fake plants, it looked like he was standing on the edge of a forest. When he looked up, he could see the white of the hotel wall over the edge of the wicker cliff.

Isaac turned around again. There was a path leading into the trees. The forest looked a little like the one next to Jimmy’s house. “Maybe I’ll find the same cave, and I can crawl inside and fall home,” Isaac said. “But what if I fall back into the same hotel lobby? How would I know if I was in a lobby inside the potted plant or just back to the first lobby?”

He looked back at the side of the basket, and then started walking into the forest.

Lunch with Mary

Mary sat at the table. Mom set two slices of bread on a plate. “Do you want mayonnaise?”

Mary scrunched up her nose. “Too slimy.”

“Mustard?”

“Too spicy,” Mary said.

“Ham?”

“Of course, silly,” Mary said.

“Cheese?”

“Lots.”

Mom smiled and added ham and cheese. “Lettuce?”

“Too green,” Mary said.

“Tomatoes?”

“I don’t like the seeds.” Mary kicked her heels against the chair legs. “Is it done yet?”

“I just have to cut it into squares,” Mom said.

Mary sat up straight and waved her arms. “Not squares! Triangles.”

“All right,” Mom said. “There you go.” Mom handed Mary a plate of ham sandwich triangles.

Mary took a bite of her sandwich. “Mmmm. Perfect.”

Mom made her own sandwich. It had mayonnaise and mustard and ham and cheese and lettuce and tomatoes. She cut it in half, so that there were two rectangles. She took a bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

“What’s that?” Mary asked.

“Mine,” Mom said.

“But what is it?” Mary asked.

“It’s mine,” Mom said.

“Just tell me what it is,” Mary said.

“It’s a ham sandwich, just like yours,” Mom said.   “Except it has the things in it you didn’t want. See?”   Mom held the sandwich sideways to show Mary a cross section of the sandwich.

“Can I have a bite?” Mary asked.

“You haven’t eaten your sandwich yet,” Mom said.

“Just one bite,” Mary said.

“Fine, just one.” Mom held out the sandwich half. Mary took it away from her and took a monstrous bite.

“Mmmm. That’s good,” Mary said around her mouthful of sandwich.

Then, she took the sandwich half with her and sat at the table. She pushed her plate out of the way and ate Mom’s sandwich in big bites.

Mom sighed and picked up the other half of her sandwich.   She ate a bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

“I’m hungry,” Mary said. “Can I have that?”

“This is mine,” Mom said. “You haven’t eaten the rest of your sandwich. Eat that.”

“But I like yours more,” Mary said. “Please?”

“Okay,” Mom said. She held out the sandwich.

Mary took it and sat down at the table. “You can have my sandwich,” she said.

Mom took the plate and opened up the sandwich and pushed the triangles together. She added mayonnaise and mustard and lettuce and tomato. She cut the sandwich again to cut through the lettuce and tomato. She ate one bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

Mary held out the rest of the sandwich half. It looked like she’d eaten two bites. “I’m full,” she said. “You can have it back.” Then she skipped out of the kitchen.