It was Saturday, and Isaac was vacuuming. He liked vacuuming. It was like mowing the lawn or raking sand in a zen garden. He focused on making the lines in the carpet parallel and breathed deeply.
He’d just managed to get to a point when he was thinking of nothing in particular, when something started ringing. He stopped and turned off the vacuum. He pulled out his phone, but the screen was dark and silent.
The ringing continued. He pulled out his wallet. The ringing grew louder. He opened his wallet and by now it was obvious that the ringing sound was coming from inside. He started to empty the cards out of his wallet, pausing to scratch Scribbles behind the ears.
Finally, he found a small business card with Wendell, Wizard Extraordinaire, written above a phone number. The card was vibrating. Isaac poked it with his finger. The ringing stopped.
“Hello?” a voice said. “Isaac?”
“Hello,” Isaac said. “Is this Wendell?”
“That’s right,” Wendell said. “Hey, my business card reader is flashing some rather odd colors. Where are you?”
Isaac looked around. “I’m in Charlie’s room,” he said.
“Have you carried my business card into Charlie’s room before?” Wendell asked.
“Of course. Lots of times,” Isaac said.
“My card reader hasn’t reacted like this before. Is there anything new there?”
Isaac looked around again. Charlie’s new slippers were under the desk chair. A small teddy bear, won at the school carnival, sat in the desk chair and looked up at him with shiny black button eyes. Under all the business cards, Charlie’s math homework was on his desk where he’d left it to go play outside, next to a half-eaten apple.
He turned and looked at the dresser. There were some new pebbles in Charlie’s rock collection. A school library book was propped up on some socks. A new homemade bookmark was tucked inside. There was a birthday party invitation peeking out of a torn envelope.
“There are lots of new things,” Isaac said. “It’s a child’s room, and childhood is full of change.”
“Hmmmm,” Wendell said. “Would you mind if I came and looked around?”
“Okay,” Isaac said.
There was a knock at the front door moments later. Isaac answered the door.
“Hello,” Wendell said. “Where were you when the card started ringing?”
“Follow me,” Isaac said.
Wendell followed Isaac to Charlie’s room. “You’ve done a very nice job vacuuming,” he said. He pulled out a little metal rod and waved it around the room. It began to hum as he waved it next to Charlie’s desk. It sounded a little like a tuning fork.
He waved it over the cards and the math homework. He waved it over the apple. He waved it over the chair. Suddenly, it got louder.
Wendell lined up the chair, the slippers, and the bear on the rug. He waved the metal rod over each one. It was loudest when he waved it over the bear. “Aha!” he said.
Isaac moved the chair and slippers back in place. “Now what?” he asked.
“I’m not sure,” Wendell said. He pulled some post-it notes from his pocket. “Can I borrow a pen?”
“Sure,” Isaac said. He opened the desk drawer and handed a pen to Wendell.
Wendell wrote some symbols on a post it note and then stuck it on the teddy bear’s forehead. More symbols appeared. “Oh dear,” Wendell said.
“What’s wrong?” Isaac asked.
Wendell started chanting, and then tapped the teddy bear with the metal rod, right between its button eyes. It started to grow and change. In a few minutes, an old man dressed in gray was blinking up at them. “What happened?” he asked.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Wendell asked.
“I was casting my favorite shaving spell,” the old man said. He scratched his chin. “I don’t think it worked.”
“No, I don’t think it did,” Wendell said. “Let’s get you home. Do you remember where you live?”
“Of course I do,” the old man said. “I just need to think about it for a moment or two.”
Wendell turned to Isaac. “Thank you for your help,” he said. “This may take a while. I’ll bring him back to my workshop.” He waved his arm and muttered something. Then he snapped his fingers. The apple on the desk disappeared, and a teddy bear just like the old one appeared in its place. “For Charlie,” he said.
“Thank you,” Isaac said.
Wendell unzipped the air and guided the old man through. “Goodbye,” he said and stepped through after him. The air zipped back closed. Isaac looked around the room. He put the teddy bear on the chair and started vacuuming again.