Short Story: The Red Notebook

9542320_origThe rain pounded against the roof, and a young girl delighted in the way its presence made the attic feel even cozier. It ran down the windows in little streams, and she paused a moment in her work to look outside.

“There’s something so wonderful about the attic,” she sighed happily and sat down next to her mother who was sorting a seemingly endless pile of papers.

“Mmmm,” Mother agreed smiling. The attic was full of an assortment of old furniture, cardboard boxes, and everything else unusual and interesting. “Your Grandmother thought so too, Allyson.”

Allyson smiled involuntarily. She had been sorting a box of old pictures and had run across several of her Grandmother. “She wrote a lot up here, didn’t she? Before it was crammed with old stuff that is,” she said brushing a dust bunny out of her curly brown hair.

Mother laughed. “Well, we’ll soon fix that problem; and maybe we’ll do things up here again. Yes, she did.”

“Could I read some of her stories this winter?” Allyson asked with new excitement in her eyes.

“That would be a fun idea. Maybe after that you could choose a few of your favorite stories for me to read aloud to everyone,” Mother said labeling her box as “burn”.

Allyson smiled and glanced at her watch. It was very close to the ending time Mother had chosen for this session of work. There was still definitely plenty to do, but it would have to wait for another day. “I can’t wait to start reading!” she said moving faster in her excitement.

Soon enough it was time to go downstairs to make dinner, but first Allyson got to choose her book. Several of the notebooks were old and a little loose leaf. She opened the first of these and sniffed deeply. The thick pages were soft to her touch and held a welcoming earthy smell. From the childish handwriting within she knew that this was Grandmother’s first notebook.

Tucking it gently under her arm, she followed her mother towards the kitchen stopping first to put the notebook on her bedside table. She thought about it all the rest of the day as something to look forward to in that special time just before bed.

“What was Grandmother like?” she asked thoughtfully as she and Davey helped prepare dinner.

“Yes, I’m curious too,” Davey added eagerly. He was a little older than she and actually met Grandmother; but he had been too little to remember her.

“Well, she was kind and graceful—like you’d expect of a princess,” Mother began. She had apparently inherited her mother’s way of being descriptive when she wanted to. “But sturdy like a pioneer. She lived through a lot.”

Allyson smiled. Even more she couldn’t wait to read Grandmother’s stories.

That night, she opened the notebook’s first page and sniffed deeply again before decoding the first paragraph. “My name is Melody, and I am twelve years old. I have decided to become a writer, and this is my first notebook. Let the adventure begin.”

And the adventure did begin there. All through that winter, Allyson read the old notebooks rejoicing with Melody when she learned to spell “medieval” or actually completed a few stories. Sometimes she read bits of the stories to her little sisters, always being sure to mark down the best ones for Mother to read later.

There were times when Melody had extreme writer’s block or rewrote the same story again, but Allyson always enjoyed opening the next notebook and delving into it. As Melody got a little older, she added more things like romance and adventure into her stories. Her characters and their situations became more realistic and accurate.

And next was the notebook that she had dedicated to her children. There were very few stories in this one, and Mother explained that this time in Grandmother’s life was so busy that she usually just told the stories instead of writing them down.

In the next notebook Melody became Grandmother. Allyson was sure by the way she dedicated each story to a child that could usually be recognized as one of the older cousins.

“What are you reading, Allyson?” Davey asked peeking over the top of her book at her.

She didn’t answer for a moment but kept her eyes fastened on the page.

“Allyson.”

She pulled herself out of the story long enough to ask, “Sorry. Did you say something?”

“I asked what you were reading.”

“Oh, it’s called ‘These Singing Stones’, and it sooo fascinating. I’m almost done actually.”

“Which notebook is next?”

“The red one. It think it is the last.” She sighed and smiled. “But I get to enjoy the rest all over again when Mother reads them aloud.”

“I can’t wait. I keep eyeing your list,” Davey replied. “Well, I guess I’ll leave you to your reading.”

“Bye,” she returned with a smile.

She waited a while after finishing that notebook to make the trip up to the attic to retrieve the red one. There were still a few weeks of winter left and didn’t like the idea of being out of reading material so soon.

After a week, she couldn’t stand waiting any longer and climbed the stairs to find it. The attic was as cozy as the day she had first discovered the notebooks but much cleaner. The boxes they were keeping were stacked in one corner, and many others had been carted away. The old furniture had been arranged around the room and after a little dusting it would be a nice place for them all to gather.

Kneeling down beside the trunk that held the old notebooks, she unbuckled its leather straps and carefully lifted the red one out of its place. Stroking the glossy red cover, she noticed that it looked a lot newer than the rest.

She moved to sit down on one of the chairs nearby and opened the book. “My name is Melody, and I am blessed with eleven beautiful grandchildren. Soon I will have another granddaughter, and her name will be Allyson. I have decided to write her a story. Let the adventure begin.”

Allyson smiled through happy tears, and turned the page quickly. A story for her! Melody, or Grandmother as she was now, had written one for her! The beginning of the notebook was full of scribbles and sketches which she read eagerly—all except the plot so she wouldn’t ruin the story before she got to read it.

“Lysanna will be the heroine. Timid and shy, but eager to do what is right as befits a lady of Beone.”

She peered closely at the sketch of Lysanna and smiled again. The girl’s eyes were large with wonder, but her whole face held a gently determined look. Her excitement and hunger for the story grew as she looked at the maps of Beone, read snatches of Sir Eren’s sad tale, and wondered what was so mysterious about Prince Dulaine.

And then the notes ended. Allyson flipped every one of the remaining pages but each was empty. She was sure she knew why, but she jumped up quickly and ran downstairs.

“Mother?” she asked bursting into the kitchen. “Did M—Grandmother have anymore notebooks anywhere?”

“I don’t believe so, why?” Mother asked as she saw her daughter’s face fall.

Allyson held out the red notebook. “Grandmother wrote this for me.” The disappointment showed clearly in her voice as she added these next words, “There are a ton of notes here but no story. She didn’t get to finish it—did she?”

Mother opened the notebook and scanned a few pages then shook her head. “No, she didn’t.” She looked down at the book again. “But there are enough notes here that I think you should write it. It would be a good project, and the story she had started could live on.”

Allyson’s face slowly turned from disappointment to a smile. Yes, she could write it. Lysanna, Beone, Sir Eren, and the mysterious prince’s story could be told. Grandmother’s story idea could be told. She gave her mother a hug and said, “Thank you, Mother. I will start writing it right away. That is—if you don’t have something you would like for me to do right now.”

Mother smiled. “Better wait on the actual writing until later this evening when the chores are done and the house is quiet, but I’m sure you can brainstorm on it all day. Besides, by then your father and I may have a surprise for you.”

“All right,” Allyson looked excited over the prospect of a surprise. “What is there to do?”

“Davey is mowing the lawn. I would like you to take Lauren out and weed the flower beds.”

“Sure!” Allyson agreed. Maybe Davey could help with the story some too.

All through the day she thought about the story. How would Grandmother have written it? What was Prince Dulaine’s mystery?

That night after dinner while she tried to wipe the smashed green beans out of Baby Lauren’s hair, Father and Mother came out of the kitchen to talk to her. They had been having a conference over the dishes and had apparently now to come to a decision.

“Allyson, your mother has been telling me about your interest in Grandmother’s writing and the story notes she left you,” Father said smiling. “We’ve decided to give you this.”

Mother handed her a smallish flat package, and she eagerly began to tear open the wrapping. “I think I know what this is,” she said happily.

Inside was a small, hardback notebook. It was dark red leather with a flower engraved in the front cover. “Thank you,” she said with a smile that reached into her eyes.

“You may go now, I’ll finish up with Lauren,” Mother offered.

“Tell Grandmother’s story and any others God gives you,” Father added.

Allyson flashed a grateful smile and hugged the little book tightly. “I’ll be in the attic.”

Dusting off the desk that stood in one corner of the room, she laid down both notebooks on the desk. Opening her own, she settled down to fill the first page.

“My name is Allyson. I am 12 years old. My Grandmother left me her story notes, and I have decided to become a writer to tell that story. Let the adventure begin.”

Allyson opened the older notebook and flipped through it until she found the plot. Smiling, she thanked God for the day she had found the notebooks and finally got to know her grandmother.

The End

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