Charlie’s Room: The Bookmark

It was bedtime, and Charlie was tucked into bed waiting to hear a bedtime story. Isaac found the book on the top shelf of Charlie’s bookshelf and sat in the chair at the desk. The homemade brontosaurus bookmark was stuck into the book upside down again, with the tail poking up out of the pages.

Isaac opened up to the bookmarked pages. “Were you reading ahead again?” Isaac asked.

“It’s not me,” Charlie said. “I’m still reading that mystery story.”

“Are you sure? The bookmark is in the wrong spot again,” Isaac said. He flipped back several pages, and then he flipped back several more.   “It’s even further ahead than last time.”

“Maybe Mom’s been reading it,” Charlie said. “It is a good story.”

“I’ll have to ask her,” Isaac said. He turned one more page. “Here we are. The dinosaur just ate all the pirates.”

“Even the one with the green hair?” Charlie asked. “I thought he had the rock to help him travel in time.”

“We’ll have to see. Maybe he saves his crewmates in the next chapter,” Isaac said. He started to read. By the end of the chapter, Charlie was yawning and blinking a lot.

When Isaac closed the book, Charlie frowned. “It can’t be the end of the chapter. The pirates are still stuck in that awful cave and the dinosaurs stole their ship.”

Isaac opened the book again at the bookmark. He showed the pages to Charlie. “See, end of the chapter. We’ll find out what happens tomorrow.”

“That’s not fair,” Charlie said. He yawned. “They shouldn’t be allowed to end a chapter like that.”

“It’s part of the fun of reading,” Isaac said. “Wanting to know what happens next.” He smiled at the dinosaur face peeking out of the top of the book. Then, he stood up and slipped the book back into its spot on the shelf. “Goodnight, Charlie,” he said. “I love you.”

“Goodnight, Dad,” Charlie said. “I love you, too.”

Isaac turned off the light and left the door partway open. Then he went down the hall to his own bedroom.   Marianne was sitting on the bed writing something on a pad of paper. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Writing a to do list for tomorrow,” she said. “I have a lot going on and I don’t want to forget anything.”

“Anything I can help with?” Isaac asked.

Marianne frowned and looked at her list. “Could you stop by the store and pick up three packages of sugar cookies and two cans of lemonade concentrate?”

“I can do that on my way home from work. Will that give you enough time?” Isaac asked.

“Yes, thanks,” Marianne said. She crossed something out and scribbled something else.

“Oh, by the way,” Isaac said. “Have you been reading the story about the dinosaurs and the pirates?”

“No, why?” Marianne asked. She flipped over the paper and began to write on the back.

“Every night that I’ve sat down to read the new book to Charlie, the bookmark is further ahead in the book than where we left it,” Isaac said. “Charlie says he’s not reading ahead.”

“Then maybe it’s the bookmark,” Marianne said. She didn’t look up from her list.

“The bookmark is reading ahead?” Isaac asked.

“Mmmhmmm,” Marianne said. “Can you pick up pickles, too?”

“Slices or whole pickles?” Isaac asked.

“Gherkins,” Marianne said. “Here, I’ll write you a list.”

The next day at bedtime, Charlie was tucked into bed waiting to hear the next chapter. Isaac pulled the book off the shelf. The bookmark was tail up, nearly to the end of the book. Isaac left it where it was and found their place. He read the next chapter, leaving the pirates on a leaking raft surrounded by sharks.

“I still say it’s not fair to end a chapter like that,” Charlie said.

“It will give you something to dream about,” Isaac said. He patted his pockets and pulled out the shopping list he’d used earlier in the day. He stuck it in the book and marked their place. He smiled at the brontosaurus tail sticking out of the top of the book and slid the book into its place on the shelf.

Maybe if the bookmark finished reading this story, it would like to read another one.   The story about the dinosaurs and the alien penguins had been a lot of fun to read. He’d leave it in that book next. “Goodnight, Charlie,” he said. “I love you.”

“Goodnight, Dad,” Charlie said. “I love you, too.”

Isaac turned off the light and left the door partway open.