Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Torn Curtain by L.F. Young

The yellowed torn curtain hung limp from the rusted rod. It moved like a ghost when the breeze picked up. There was not one bit of glass left in the old homestead. Too many years of neglect had passed, after my grandparents had died. I tentatively climbed the rotten steps, keeping to the edges where the wood was the strongest. The front door was on the floor, and a scurry of brown fur told me I was not alone. Somehow I felt a great comfort knowing the old place was now home to a host of wild critters.

The same rose colored pattern on the walls brought a smile to my face, as I remembered this parlor of my youth, half a century ago. The wallpaper was peeling and yellowed, but the faint squares were still visible where pictures of the family once hung in humility. The air smelled a strange mixture of old wood, wet paper, and animal droppings. Not entirely unpleasant, the sweetness of the air held fast to the back of my throat. Five steps into the room, and the floor started to groan and creak, reminding me of the sound of ice cracking, and the toe of my boot disappeared in rotten wood dust.

I quickly scrambled back to the relative safety of the hallway, as part of the floor sagged into the dark basement below. Close call you old fool! I thought as I wiped the sudden sheen of sweat off my brow. I was debating whether to venture any further. A guy could get killed in this old shack. I just had to get one thing.

I gingerly made my way down the hallway and into the kitchen. Same linoleum and same oil stain where the Kerosene barrel sat. The ancient wood burning stove was long gone, as was all the stove piping for the flue. My gaze fell to a spot next to where that oven used to live. There was a wooden box in that very spot that held the kindling for the fire, and behind that box, which was no longer there; I could plainly see the small section of flooring right next to the wall. I dug out my pocket knife, and slid the blade into the crack at the end of the five inch piece of flooring. It popped up as easily as it had when I was six years old. That’s when I had left my treasure in there, long ago forgotten, until my grandson was born. I cautiously reached my wrinkled old hand into the hole and found my prize.

The hand painted toy soldier was in excellent condition. Even the decorated rope on the drum was still crisp on the now antique lead figure. I secured the toy in my handkerchief and slipped it in my pocket as I headed towards the back door, which was still hanging from one very twisted and rusted hinge. One last look at memories, and I was on my way.

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