Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Tale of Yesterday. . . and Today - Part 1

It seems amazing to me that it had been nearly forty-five years since I first laid eyes upon it in the big wooden chest in the attic of my childhood home. The attic was always one of my favorite places to explore. That seems queer to me now, because as a young girl, although I loved to sneak off up there, it was always a place that made me just a little uncomfortable, just a little nervous. First of all, it was not a pretty finished attic. No, it was an OLD attic in an OLD home. The walls had been plastered and white-washed at one time long ago, but by the time I was nearly ten years old and had begun to venture up there, the walls were cracked and grey. The unpainted wooden steps that led up to the third-floor were steep and narrow. I don’t recall that I ever minded climbing up them, but coming back down was quite another story. I never descended those stairs without thinking I was surely going to slip and fall and be found at the bottom as a limp little body. (I was nothing, if not imaginative as a youngster.)

Perhaps, it was my vivid imagination that caused me to be a little nervous when I was in the attic. The slightest sound would cause me to shoot a quick, furtive glance over my shoulder toward the teeny-tiny doors on the opposite walls. I was certain that one day I would see someone. . .or something. . . opening those doors and come creeping into my world from some unknown world beyond. I had never seen behind those little doors. My mother always told me that they were “just the doors to the cubbyholes” and that I didn’t need to get in those. She needn’t to have worried about that, I was never going to open one of those doors. Who knew what might come scrambling out at me. You know they were just the right size to be the door for a gremlin or a goblin or worse.

Despite my trepidation, the attic still called to me and my sense of adventure. There were too many wonderful old things in that attic – a carved, wooden bedstead that was taller than I was (nearly five-feet tall) with an old washstand to match, an old pianonette, curtain stretchers, and two grand wooden trunks. The one old chest held an old china baby doll whose hair was tangled and whose face was soiled and lined with hundreds of fine cracks. Although her dress was pretty and frilly, it too was slightly soiled from years of being tucked away in that old chest. And although my mother said that it was her favorite baby doll when she was little, that dolly always frightened me for some reason. I often wondered how someone could love such a baby doll as that. So that trunk (with the baby doll that stared up at me when I opened the lid) was safe from my prying eyes and fingers. I suppose my mother was glad that at least one of the trunks would not be disturbed by her curious little girl.

Ah, but the second wooden trunk, the one where I had found "it", was much different in my young opinion. It was indeed a treasure chest . . .

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