Charlie’s Room: A Bookend
After work, Isaac walked past the antique shop on the way to his car. He wasn’t ever going to go inside again. Last time he’d gone in, he’d bought a man-eating toy box. But, he couldn’t help looking through the window. And then he stopped and stared.
In a dark corner of the window, there was a little sword stuck in a rock. It would be the perfect bookend to keep the lighter weight books in place on Charlie’s bookshelf. The other side of the row was kept steady with several nice thick story collections. He’d tried keeping the thinner books in the middle, but then both ends flopped over.
The little sword twinkled in the dim light. It really did seem perfect. Maybe he could just go in and make sure it was as heavy as it looked. It was probably too expensive anyways. Taking a deep breath, Isaac went into the antique shop.
A bell rang as he entered. The man sitting by the counter looked up over the edge of his newspaper and then looked back down. Isaac hurried around the maze of aisles to the front window. He tried not to look around. That way, he’d be less likely to buy anything.
It was a little strange being on the inside of the store window. He was looking at the backs of the dolls and dried flower arrangements and little chairs and glass plates. Just beyond the window, people walked by, occasionally glancing in briefly. Isaac felt invisible. It was very tempting to start making faces and see if anyone noticed.
Remembering that he was too old to hide and make faces, Isaac finally picked up the bookend and weighed it in his hand. It really was perfect. He checked the price. It was absurdly inexpensive. It cost half the price of the hideous porcelain doll sitting next to it. It was obviously not being treated with the respect it deserved.
Isaac made his way back through the maze of aisles. The man at the counter was standing there waiting for him. The newspaper had somehow disappeared. “Hi,” Isaac said.
The man held out his hand. Isaac gave him the paperweight and the man rang it up silently. He held out a hand for the payment. Once the man had given him the correct change and a receipt, he looked at Isaac and narrowed his eyes. “No returns,” he said.
“But the sign says I have thirty days,” Isaac said, pointing to the sign about the 30 day return policy.
“Nope,” the man said.
“Fine,” Isaac said. He was really never going to come back here again. No matter what. And he really meant it this time. Probably.
He drove home and hurried to Charlie’s room. Through the window, he could see Charlie and Marianne in the garden. It looked like they were picking lettuce. Isaac smiled and straightened the books. He set down the little bookend, and everything stayed in place. “Don’t move,” he said.
He wiggled the books and took some in and out. It didn’t budge. He wiggled the sword to make sure it was secure. It came out easily. The room seemed brighter and music was playing somewhere. The sun must have come out from behind the clouds at the same time a neighbor turned on his radio. A coincidence.
The sword couldn’t stay loose like this. It looked sharp. Charlie might pick it up and get hurt. He went down the hall to his desk and rummaged through the drawer until he found the super glue.
He brought it back to Charlie’s room and dripped the glue into the rock. He stuck the sword back in. The light dimmed and the music stopped. How odd.
After waiting the correct amount of time, he wiggled the sword. It popped right back out and the lights were bright and the music played. “That’s not right,” he said. “Not unless Arthur was around two feet tall. This is not the real sword in the stone. It’s too small.”
Isaac stuck the sword back in the rock. Everything was dimmer and quieter again. He opened the window and called Charlie. “Come in and help me for just a second,” he said.
“Okay,” Charlie said. He hurried inside. “What do you need, Dad?” he asked.
“Pull on the sword there on the bookshelf,” Isaac said. “I need to see if it comes out of the rock.”
“Wow, that’s neat,” Charlie said. He pulled and tugged on the sword. It didn’t wiggle. “That’s too bad,” he said. “It looks real. I’d like to try swinging it around for a bit.”
“No, I think it needs to stay here and guard your books,” Isaac said. “Someone might get hurt otherwise. Let’s go out and help your mom with the lettuce.”
“I’ll race you,” Charlie said. “Ready, set…Go!” He raced off, laughing, and Isaac smiled and followed him outside.