Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marvelous Little Toy

There's nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking around in your grandparents' attic...if you're looking for a thrill. If you're just trying to hide from your cousins then the stacks of odds and ends turn from mountains of treasure to ideal hiding places. Ideal, but rather unstable. Grandpa wasn't known for his organization skills and so your loss of balance quickly turns from a bumble into an avalanche. Boxes and books come crashing down, weird lamps tumble over, and, "Ouch!" The strangest Christmas ornament you've ever seen takes a detour on your head.

Its dull, tarnished silver barely holds a reflection now, and it's nearly too large for your hand. It feels off, weighted oddly like there's something lazy inside that doesn't move how you expect. As strange as this ball is, and you probably really should put it back, there's a feeling about it that just begs to be tossed. 

Once and twice in the air. Everything seems fine. In fact there's a rather pleasant thrum when it lands. Your cousins are going to be so jealous. 


"Hey guys, look! Look what I found!" The championship round of hide-and-seek is forgotten almost instantly (except by the cousin who's winning) and the gaggle of your relatives starts to press closely.

"What is it?"
"Where'd you get that?"
"It's just a dumb ball, let's go play!"
"Can I see it?"

It leaves your hand and you can feel its insides spinning, a protest of the sudden acceleration. Up, up, and down, it arcs across the lawn, your cousin leaping to catch it. But what should have been awe at this new toy turns into a surprised yelp, the ball landing on the ground with a thud. 

"It shocked me!"

It is mysterious, unexpected, possibly naturally, everyone wants to see. Your eldest cousin catches the ball with ease as everyone tries to figure this thing out(he works at a lightning farm, these shocks must feel like nothing). One more toss and his face lights up.

"I've got an idea."


How cool, a game with electricity! It starts in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder with your cousins. You throw the ball back and forth, the first one to drop it is out. Every lost contestant widens the circle and the stakes get higher. The longer the throw, the higher the charge, the bigger the shock. You've been knocked out a couple times, but it's worth it to see the faces the other kids make.

"George Robert Baker!"

Uh-oh. Well at least it wasn't your name. 

"You put that down this instant! That is not a toy!"

Aunt Meg can get scary when she wants to, and the color of her face says she's one good row away from Volcano Day. George argues back. Obviously.

This'll be one for the family scrapbook for sure, looks like Uncle Ned is already taking pictures. But everyone knows what happens when arguments go on too long, and George has even started to play keep-away from his mom so she's getting extra loud.  It's really only a matter of time until--

"What's going on here?"

That voice. It demands to be listened to and obeyed. It can sweetly sing a lullaby or rip the dignity from your soul.  It's Grandma.

"George, bring it here. Margaret? What's the ruckus?"

Aunt Meg looks ready to spit venom.

"That thing should be destroyed, Mother. I don't know why you have it in the first place but it's deadly and I won't have my son playing with it!"

"I have it because I invented it, Margaret. You should know better."

"It's a weapon."

"It's harmless."

"It wasn't harmless i--"

"Enough. We'll talk about this inside." 

Grandmas are old, that's a well recognized fact, but she'd never really seemed so tired. Old as she is she's as spry as a willow switch--or that's what your dad says.  Maybe the years are getting the better of her.

"George," she says, "Kids: go play in the creek. You," she points and your heart skips a beat, "put that thing back where you found it."


There's nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking around in your grandparents' attic...unless you're sent with a scolding from Aunt Meg. It's hard to know where the ball came from, really, you did make quite a mess earlier. It could belong on the shelf just by the stairs. Maybe it's supposed to be just within reach. You know, in case.

"Don't dawdle," snaps your Aunt and you catch your grandma's eye. A quick wink and a secret smile tells you all you need to know: you haven't seen the last of that marvelous little toy.


I took a risk with the POV, how'd it work?

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