Charlie’s Room: The Handkerchiefs

Isaac smiled as he closed the new dinosaur book. “That was nice.”

“That was terrible,” Charlie wailed.

“But the aliens and dinosaurs are friends now, and the aliens are going to take the dinosaurs with them to see outer space.”

“But the dinosaurs will all be gone, so there won’t be any more dinosaur books.” Charlie began to cry.

Isaac put the book on the bookshelf and hurried over to Charlie’s bed. He gently patted Charlie’s shoulder. “Hey, now. It doesn’t mean that this is the last book. Maybe the next one will tell us about their adventures on other planets. Maybe they’ll come back after a nice visit.”

Charlie sniffled. “Do you think so?”

“Sure,” Isaac said.

“It does sound nice.”

“And think of how great the movie for this book will be. I can’t wait to see the aliens build a bridge with laser beams.”

Charlie smiled. “When they rescued the dinosaur stuck on the island, I thought they were going to drag him across the water with the tractor beam, like water skiing.”

“That’s a great idea. I wonder why they didn’t do that.”

“Maybe using their tractor beam that long would make it overheat or explode or something.” Charlie sniffled. “Dad, could you get me a tissue? My nose is runny now.”

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Isaac turned down the hall and went to his bedroom.

His handkerchiefs were in the top drawer of his dresser. They were all white and plain and about the same size. But he remembered where and when he’d bought each one.

He liked to buy plain white handkerchiefs as a souvenir when they went on vacation. They were inexpensive and useful and didn’t take up much space.

“But they’re terrible souvenirs,” Marianne said once. “They all look the same. How will they remind you of a specific trip?”

“They feel different to me. When I pick one up, for just a moment I feel like I am back where I was when I bought it.”

“Even after they’re washed?” Marianne sounded skeptical.

“Even then.” Isaac held out the handkerchief.

Marianne took it and turned it over in her hands. “It feels like a normal handkerchief to me.”

Isaac smiled. “That’s because it’s still in the store. Wait until we get home and you can compare it to the others.” But they got home and were so busy recovering from their vacation, they forgot.

Isaac picked up one of the white handkerchiefs from his drawer. He could smell the ocean and hear the seagulls. Charlie was laughing. Behind all the other sounds was the roar and whisper of the waves.

He blinked, and he was in his bedroom holding a white handkerchief. He smiled. That was the beach trip where they spent an afternoon building an amazing sand castle. It even had a moat and a drawbridge.

He brought the handkerchief back to Charlie. “This one is from our beach trip,” he said as he passed it over. “The one with the sand castle.”

Charlie held it up by its corners and inspected it closely. “How can you tell?”

“It feels like the beach,” Isaac explained.

Charlie looked at the handkerchief again, and then he shrugged and blew his nose. “Maybe you can tell because you’re sensitive to handkerchiefs. Like people with allergies. My friend Ralph can tell who has cats and dogs at home because he’s allergic to them.”

“I don’t think I’m allergic to handkerchiefs.”

Charlie handed back the used handkerchief and sighed. “Who knows.”

Isaac listened to his prayers and turned out the light. “Good night. I love you.”

“I love you too. Dad?”


“I hope there’s lots more dinosaur books.”

“Me too.”



“The beach trip was fun. Let’s go again sometime.”

“Okay. Good night, Charlie.”

“Good night, Dad.”