A little background: This is an ongoing project in order to donate money to literacy projects. This is the first two parts of the story. Details are below on how you can participate when the most recent installment is posted on the blog. You can also follow it on my Facebook Page.
Masie pinned her brown hair back and rolled up her sleeves. This was the morning she was going to tackle the attic for her grandmother who could no longer manage the pull-down ladder. She wrapped a bandana around her nose and mouth. Should have thought this through a little better. She donned dish washing gloves and headed up the ladder with an old hurricane lamp.
“Watch yourself up there, Masie. It gets awful hot up there come lunch time!”
“Yes, Grand, I will come down when it starts getting too hot. Does the attic have a light?”
‘How many attics you know have lights, child?”
“Just hoping, I guess.”
“I can fetch you a stand for the one you’re holding. I’ll call you when I find it.”
“That and feeding you is the least I can do, child. Now, mind your steps up there.”
Masie poked her head up through the opening to get an initial look. Cobwebs had taken permanent residence, and according to the pictures she had seen on the internet, so had a family of squirrels. The dust had turned everything a grayish white, and reminded her of those old haunted house movies. She adjusted the pack on her back which contained all the cleaning materials and her phone. Her grandmother handed up the stand for the lamp.
“Not done yet. Get up there and then lean down. You might need more oil for that thing.”
Masie did as she was told, and her grandmother handed up a small jug of oil.
“Never know what you might find up there, Masie. Four generations of stuff is up there.”
“I am hoping to find some really cool stuff for my blog.”
Her Grand just shook her head and waved dismissively, “Heh, you young ‘uns and your computers, in my day, our journals were made of paper.”
Masie chuckled as she stood and looked for a place for the stand. After having placed it as close to the middle of the attic as she could, she placed her pack next to it and pulled out a broom to which she screwed on a handle. She also took out a trash bag and portable frame to put it in. She swept her way to an old velvet covered love seat. She returned back to her pack to get a hand-held vacuum. She started slowly sucking up the dust, being careful not to press too hard on the fabric. When she got down to the last layer of dust, she gingerly brushed it off with a small brush. It was deep red color and the love seat looked like it was still useable. The wooden trim needed touching up, but there were no rips in the fabric; so she thought. She worked her way around back and found there was an upholstery tack missing and a piece of the fabric was hanging down. She couldn’t get a good look at the hole in the back of the love seat because of the lighting; so, she took out her smartphone and used the flashlight.
She saw the corner of an aged piece of yellow paper. She blinked slowly and looked from side to side, while curling her mouth to one side.
Why would someone put a piece of paper in an old couch? They didn’t generally do that. This is a little weird.
She made her way back to the opening, “Grand!”
“Yes, Masie-girl, what is it?”
“I found an old couch with a piece of fabric hanging down in the back of it.”
“Yeah, and it looks like someone put a piece of paper in there.”
Grand looked up suspiciously, “Are you sure? A piece of paper?”
“That shouldn’t be in there. Lemme get the little upholstery hammer and give it to ya.”
“I don’t want to ruin the couch, Grand.”
“Bah, just be careful how you take them out. You can show me how to find someone to get that thing down later.”
Masie leaned down to get the hammer. Upon returning to the love seat, she slowly and carefully removed just enough of the tacks to be able to retrieve the paper.
“Did you get it?”
“Well, come on down here, then. You’ve got my curiosity up. Let’s have a look at it together. Don’t you peek!”
She took the folded paper and climbed down the ladder with it, trying her best not to look. Her mind reeled at the possibilities. Grand had already poured them some tea and sat down at the kitchen table. Masie slowly unfolded the paper. She realized it was an old piece of parchment, but she couldn’t make out the language.
“That’s German, our native tongue, Masie. Your parents never taught it to you. I will have to take a look.”
Masie nodded as her Grand turned the paper to read it. It had a drawing on it with markings. She barely recognized the outline of Europe.
“Grand, what is it?”
Grand’s eyes flew open and she started bouncing up and down like a child waiting for a surprise, “It’s a treasure map, Masie!”
“Yes, but this is only one half of it. It says the other half in another piece of furniture.”
“Let me read you the riddle: Every so often I get a gift, a new set of things to give me a lift. My frame is solid, and was built by the best, and my wood at one end tells you which end your head rests.”
“That’s a bed frame and headboard.”
“Yes, but one problem, dear one.”
“That bed, which was made to match the love seat is no longer here.”
Masie looked disappointed, “It sure would have been fun to get the other half of the map, Grand.” She was taking her last sip of tea and was headed back to the attic when she heard her grandmother making clicking sounds with her tongue.
“Now, Masie, I have never known you to give up that easily.”
“Well,” she shrugged while tilting her head sideways, “you wouldn’t happen to know where they are, would you?”
“As a matter of fact I do, and if I am correct,” She was slipping on her shoes and grabbing her purse, “it’s at a business run by an old friend. Come along, dear.” Masie practically skipped to the car and was bouncing up and down in the seat as they pulled up to the antique market. She did her best not to run ahead of her grandmother. She saw rows and rows of old wooden desks and chairs with scroll work the likes she had never seen. She paused to look at herself in a gilded full-length mirror and laughed when her grand placed an over-sized hat on her own head and stopped to pose.
“What do you think, Masie? Too much?”
She couldn’t stop giggling. Her grand smiled as she put the hat back on the rack, “I think my friend is right around this corner. AH! There he is.”
Standing next to a mannequin dressed in a large gown with a bustle, was a man whose blue eyes were only out-shined by the smile that crept across his face.
“Minnie, oh, how are you, dear? It’s been ages.” They hugged.
Nodding Grand returned the smile, “Yes, Jacob, it has indeed.”
He took a step back and pointed at Masie, leaning back slightly with a smirk on his face, “This would not happen to be that wee one whom you would bring with you to have lunch every once in a while would it?”
“Yes, this is Masie. She’s 12 now.”
His eyes went wide, “Well, you have certainly grown. It would be about right though. It’s been two years since Charles…” His voice got softer and he let the sentence trail off.
“Yes, and I am leagues from where I was that day.”
His smile returned, “That is good to hear. What brings you here today?”
She was waving at Masie to come to her, “Lunch and something we found in an old love seat in the attic.”
Masie showed Jacob the map. He stroked his goatee, carefully handling the old parchment as he placed it on a Victorian era table for a closer look.
“That’s we what we thought, which-“
“I am sorry to interrupt,” He made his way to a file cabinet as he continued, “but I have a habit of restoring old pieces of furniture, and I found something stuck the back of the headboard of your old headboard that you wanted me to sell.” He stopped by the register, filled out a small slip of paper, and opened the cash drawer, taking out a sum of money.
He handed the paper, map, and money to Minnie, “Here you go, dear, I was just about to call you. the headboard and frame sold for $1500.”
“You took your standard ten percent?”
“For you, I took five.”
“It is about lunch time, old friend, shall we continue old habits?”
“I would be honored.”
Lunch was the cafe across the street from the antique market, and, as they waited for their food, Masie carefully placed both halves together. The map now showed a outline of Europe, but there was an inset map that displayed a close-up of Bavaria. Masie looked up from the map.
“This is a map from WWI, right? We don’t call that region Bavaria anymore.”
Minnie smiled, “Yes, you are right dear.”
Masie plopped her head in her hands, “We’re going to have find a map of Germany today and compare it.”
“Yes, but look at the legend and look again at the map.”
Masie pointed to another riddle, “Grand.”
She put on her glasses once more, “You will find me in the heart, where all great rulers start.”
Masie huffed, “Boy did they get that wrong.” Both adults laughed. It was Jacob’s turn to speak, “They knew nothing of Hitler’s plans before the war child, and by the age of this paper, they drew it shortly after World War One. Do you know where they speak of?”
“Berlin, I am guessing. That’s where all the dictators would rule from.”
“Correct,” Jacob thrust a finger in the air, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, “We’re going to Berlin!”
Masie looked stunned, “Um, we? How?”
Minnie smiled, “Well, you are on your summer break, and I am longing to see my birthplace again, and Jacob is from Germany as well.”
“My parents would flip out!”
“You’re parents will do no such thing. I will call them and tell them you need a passport, and that I am taking you to Germany to show you where your ancestors came from.”
“Good luck with that. I have to sign wavers just to go across the street to a friend’s house.”
“Heh, that’s because you have your grandmother’s wandering spirit.” Minnie patted Masie’s hand.
The rest of lunch was spent making the plans for the trip, which Minnie estimated would take until the week before school started again in the fall.
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