Snakes and Pills

107 - sleep ways

The steps to the attic creaked as she scrambled up them. "Rasha, slow down! You'll trip and break your neck!" cautioned her mother, who was trailing some distance behind the little one. She was considerably less excited to get up there than her daughter.

Rasha had already stumbled around in the darkness and found the cord to switch on the attic's single light by the time her mother's first steps up the ladder could be heard. The single lonely bulb struggled to provide enough illumination to the cavernous room. Its task was made even more difficult by the layer of dust that simply seemed to hang in the air. As a result, many of the corners and angles of the room found themselves still shrouded in darkness.

The mystery of this room was so great that Rasha could hardly contain herself. From her earliest memories in her short life, whenever her grandfather had ascended to the attic, he had always returned with something that delighted and amazed her. She had long wished to come up here and see the source of all the amazement for herself. Sadly, it took her grandfather's passing for her to finally get her wish. But here she was.

It didn't make her sad to be here, because it reminded her of her grandfather and all of his best qualities. It did not make sense, then, why her mother seemed so sluggish in climbing the stairs. To her mom, the memory of her father's passing would not be so easily moved past or supplanted by better emotions. To her, everything in this attic could still bring up painful thoughts--it would take much longer for that pain to fade.

"Where should we start, Mom?" asked an eager Rasha. Her mother surveyed the dark and dusty room. Boxes upon boxes upon boxes, with seemingly no sense of order or organization. She had no answer at all. It's not as if her daughter waited for a reply, anyway. Rasha was already opening boxes, moving things around, and throwing up fresh clouds of dust in the process.

"Hold on, Rasha. We're here to organize and save your grandfather's stuff. Not make a big mess, or to make a bigger mess, anyway. Let's at least do this in an organized fashion."

Obeying her mother, the girl relented and waiting for her parent to take the lead. It took some time, but Rasha's mom eventually decided to first open each box, and attempt to identify and label its contents, for more thorough sorting later.

For the first hour or so, they came upon box after box of what Rasha lamented as "typical grandpa stuff," things such as clothes, terribly out of fashion and smelling of mothballs. The boxes with books in them at least were not as odoriferous, but they made up for it in sheer volume and weight. A box of books whose contents were too much for the cardboard containing them spilled onto the floor and onto poor Rasha's feet. The child promised that her vengeance would be swift and brutal.

One box, however, was not like the others. Rasha discovered that it was filled with exquisitely-carved wooden turtles. They numbered twelve in all, each with shells roughly the size of dinner plates. On the bottom, they all had they same name etched into the wood: Thomas M. Kelvin.

"Who was he?" Rasha asked.

"You know, I'm not even sure how many 'greats' I would need to attach to his name to be correct, but certainly a few. Great great great grandfather, at least. He lived in the early 1800s and was quite skilled at woodwork."

"Why so many turtles?" she continued.

"I really don't know. He liked them, I guess. Or maybe these are just the ones that never sold," Rasha's mother speculated.

Rasha stared inquisitively at the one in her hand, and then started to place it down. That was when she heard a slight rattle. Piqued, she gave it an intentional shake, and once again the rattle was heard.

She prodded and pulled at the wooden turtle, trying to find the sound's source. Without warning, the shell slid off the back of the turtle's body, and the whole thing went flying out of her hand.

Three figures were ejected from the turtle as well, and when Rasha bent down to pick them up, she was startled to realize that they looked just like stereotypical aliens. She then recovered the body of the turtle, from whence the extra-terrestrials had emanated. The body, as it turned out, was hollow, and the innards were carved to look suspiciously like the innards of a futuristic spaceship.

As she picked the pieces up off the floor, Rasha knew one thing for sure: Grandpa's attic never failed to amaze.


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