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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Year(s) (01/20/11)

TITLE: The Attic
By Rachel Burkum


The wood was smooth beneath my touch. I wondered for a moment how many times my skin had brushed past those same grains. The boards that framed the weathered glass stood weakened but determined to brave whatever trials came its way. I pulled my sleeve down over my hand and rubbed at the thick grime on the pane. If someone didnít look closely enough, they might not even realize that a window lived here. But I knew.

It took a little work, but eventually I had cleared a big enough spot on the glass that I could see outside. The view was just as I remembered. Hills stretched on for miles and miles - into eternity, I imagined. Branches from a proud oak tree created a fanciful border through which to view. I remembered when those same branches barely reached the top of the first floor.

Turning from the attic window, I gazed across the dusty expanse. The light from the newly cleaned window seeped into the nooks and crannies, absorbed by golden floorboards. My mindís eye began to see treasures of the past. There was Grandmotherís old chest - a chest full of delightful wonders of quilts, rag dolls and curious hats. A rocking horse waited patiently in the corner, its glass eyes shimmering with imagined life, while its mane and tale beckoned gentle strokes. On the far wall hung a collection of sun-faded photos - family members that would come to life if stared at long enough. A rainbow lay resting on the floor in the form of a braided rug to tickle oneís bare feet if they dared tread on its colorful rays. A full-length mirror in the corner became a stage, accepting of purple feather boas, high-heels and lipstick. The sparkling chandelier hung just low enough to entertain curious fingers while scattering prisms in every direction to be chased down and collected in jars.

The memories faded one by one until I was again staring at an empty attic full of cobwebs, musty rafters and telltale sounds of skittering mice. It was hard to believe that this had been my playground as a child. It was even harder to believe how much time had passed since I had been up here. Pinpointing when the change occurred wasnít easy, but I distinctly remembered telling my mother that playing in the attic was for kids - I was too old for that now.

A wry grin creased my lips. If only I had known. If only I had known that years later, I would yearn for those childhood moments again. If only I had known that my heart would crave just one more visit to the imaginary world full of rainbows, dancing teddy bears and the most incredible tea parties ever hosted. If only I had recognized how precious those God-given moments were.

Now that I was here as an adult, I came burdened with busy schedules, impossible responsibilities and the disguised blessing of caring for my ailing grandmother. No longer was I the child who danced across this very floor. No longer was I the bright-eyed adventurer seeking treasure in antique baskets and boxes. No longer did I bear the innocent heart I once had.

Checking my watch, I knew I soon needed to return downstairs and prepare supper for Grandmother. Perhaps vegetable soup would be enjoyed on this brisk evening. After that would be bath time, then after that we would sit and watch her favorite shows on television until it was time for bed. Tomorrow morning I would need to rise and make breakfast before going into town to shop then return to do laundry, clean the kitchen, water the plants, feed the catsÖ

A feathery-looking object in the corner caught my eye and I approached with caution. On closer inspection, I realized it was a dusty, faded feather boa - purple at one time I thought. Dismounting it from the hook on the wall, I shook out the dust, coughing as the particles hit my lungs. Who knew what sorts of microorganisms were embedded in those feathers? I disregarded the germaphobic thought. Wrapping the boa around my neck, I sashayed across the floor, passing by that magical mirror. And when I reached the stairs and looked back over my shoulder, the playground was still there, waiting for the child within.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst01/27/11
I could totally see the attic of the MC's childhood. Thank you for taking me there. The last paragraph pulled a smile out of me (and a bit of a sneeze :-))--I'm glad she was open to her own imagination.
Brenda Rice 01/31/11
Wow, I was totally there and enjoying very moment with her. Memories are God given to help us be as little children when our lives are full of responsibilities and grown-up stuff. Thanks so much for sharing.
Cheryl Harrison01/31/11
I enjoyed this -- I even coughed when you shook the dusty boa. I liked the small details you weaved into this, like pulling your sleeve down so you could wipe the window. Good job.
Virgil Youngblood 01/31/11
I believe a return trip to fantasy land is already in the making. Adult responsibilities can be rearranged when a higher need is the joyful feeding of the child within.
Rachel Phelps01/31/11
Lots of atmosphere here. I wanted some more conflict in the story, but I'm a bit of a drama queen. Your last lines were lovely.
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/31/11
Awww, pretty story with darling memories.
Laury Hubrich 02/01/11
I love it when we have time to be a child once again, even if it's just in memories. I love how you ended this story. :)