Charlie’s Room: The Postcard

“Look, it’s a postcard from Aunt Doris,” Marianne said. “It’s for you, Charlie.” She handed the postcard to Charlie.

“She must have gone leaf viewing again,” Charlie said. “It’s a pretty postcard.” He flipped it over. “She says to tell you hello, and I need to wear mittens and a hat when I go outside.”

He held it out to his mom. Marianne looked at it and smiled. “It is a pretty postcard. It’s amazing all the different colors the leaves can turn. Why don’t you keep that in your room?”

“I’ll go put it on my desk,” Charlie said. “What’s for dinner?”

“Baked potatoes,” Marianne said.

Charlie put the postcard on his desk and forgot about it.


The next day was Saturday. Charlie and Marianne were spreading out layers of shredded leaves on the garden as mulch. Isaac was inside vacuuming again. He worked to keep his vacuum lines in the carpet consistently parallel and breathed with the rhythm of the vacuum.

Isaac turned the corner and started vacuuming Charlie’s room. Crunch! He looked down. Brightly colored fall leaves were scattered on the carpet. Isaac looked over at the window. It was closed.

Had it been opened earlier? He looked at the leaves again. Some of the leaves came from trees that didn’t grow anywhere close to their yard.   Maybe Charlie had been collecting them?   Isaac turned off the vacuum. He picked up the leaves and found a box with a lid in the kitchen.

When he returned, there were leaves on the floor. Had he dropped some? He picked them up and put them in the box. Then he started vacuuming again.

A gust of wind outside rattled the windows. Leaves fell on the floor. Where did they come from? Isaac turned the vacuum off again. It looked like there were more leaves closer to Charlie’s desk.

Isaac picked up the leaves and put them in the box. Then he watched the desk and waited. A few minutes later, several gold and orange leaves flew out of a postcard propped up against the pencil sharpener. The leaves floated gently to the floor.

He picked up the postcard and flipped it over. “This is from Aunt Doris,” he said. “She must have gone to look at the fall leaves again.” He turned it back to the picture. It looked like a normal postcard.

He cautiously poked the picture with his finger. It felt like a normal postcard. A red maple leaf flew out of the postcard and hit his cheek. It was definitely not a normal postcard.

Isaac opened the leaf container and put the postcard in with the leaves.   Then he shut the lid and put the box on the desk. He finished vacuuming Charlie’s room. As he left the room, he put the box under one arm and steered the vacuum to the next room. He left the box on his dresser.

A half hour later, he returned to his room and opened the box. Leaves poured out. How did that many leaves even fit inside the box? They filled a garbage bag and kept coming. Maybe Great-Aunt Bethyl would like a nice postcard of autumn leaves? She knew what to do with strange things like this.

Isaac closed up the postcard inside the box again and took the bag of leaves out to the garden. “I have another bag of leaves for you,” Isaac said.

“Perfect,” Marianne said. “Just what we needed. I’ll go shred them.”

She took the bag and hurried away. Isaac smiled at Charlie. “How’s it going?” he asked.

“Great,” Charlie said. “We’re almost done.”

“It looks good,” Isaac said. “It’s like you’re covering the garden in a nice soft blanket.”

“Exactly,” Charlie said.

“I was thinking that maybe we could give your leaf postcard to Great-Aunt Bethyl,” Isaac said. “She’d really like it.”

“Sure,” Charlie said. “I can remember to wear my hat and mittens without it there to remind me.”

“Thanks,” Isaac said. “I’ll go send it to her now.”

Isaac called Great-Aunt Bethyl. Ten minutes later, a young man in a red polo shirt and sunglasses knocked on the door. Isaac handed him the box with the postcard inside. It was already too full of leaves again. He had to hold down the lid to keep it on.

The man thanked him, took the box, and strode away. As he turned the corner, there was a popping sound and leaves flew up from behind the fence. “Maybe I should have emptied the box before I gave it to him,” Isaac said.   He grabbed his rake and a garbage bag.   Fall leaves were so messy.   Pretty, but messy.