Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
TITLE: The Attic
By Shannah Hogue
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The only entrance was a steep ladder pulled down from the ceiling in the bedroom where I slept. After breakfast, with the rain beating on the roof, Grandpa would follow us upstairs and pull the trap door open. Then together, we two boys would scramble up, the welcoming stuffiness enveloping us with the same fuzzy comfort that Grandma’s handmade afghans provided while we slept.
The attic had a steep roof with a peak miles above my head. It was full of boxes, chests, old furniture and toys, a treasure trove of long-kept secrets and yet-undiscovered truths. We found old photographs and letters. We played with ancient handmade toys, long unused but still in perfect order. My brother found my grandfather’s collection of marbles. I uncovered the old rocking horse. With the gentle country rain providing our own private soundtrack, we were explorers of the past, inventors of the present, seers of the future.
That summer still pulses through my memory, more than any other summer of my life. Thirty years later, those moments still play in my mind like sepia-tinged home videos. On rainy summer days, I still stop and relive those moments, carefully attentive, as of old photo album or scrapbook in my mind.
And on this quiet summer day, sitting alone in the kitchen of that old farmhouse, I suddenly have an urge to see the old attic again. The stairs, the room, the trap door are all as I remember them. I pull the tattered old string, and the hinges complain as they slowly creak open. Then I gently climb the ladder.
The room is not as large as I remember, and there are newer boxes and piles. Many of the old toys are gone now, though the jar of marbles still rests on the old dresser near the window. I breathe in the thick air, filled momentarily by the dust which my unsolicited entrance raised. It is a good place, this attic. It waits, lovingly holding the moments of the past, uncomplaining and patient for as long as necessary, then gratefully welcoming when we feel its call again.
I stay in the attic for a long time, relishing the memories and saying goodbye. This visit to the farm is my last, I know. My grandfather, who had lived here for the last ten years without my grandmother, is now gone, too. The farmhouse has been sold, and soon, my father and aunt will empty these rooms, this attic, of all its buried truth and treasure.
But for now, the moment is tinted with the golden glow of the late afternoon sun. This attic holds my life, my past. It is full of the lives and loves of those people who shaped me. It is a treasure chest that contains pieces of the people I hold so dear.
And standing in this hallowed place, I see so clearly that I am a very rich man.
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