Thursday, March 12, 2009
"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
I had a peculiar tendency in my formative years to spend hours rooting around in our old attic: I scrambled endlessly among the cobwebs and half-forgotten books and long-folded blankets. I hoped, in truth, to find a treasure map or a secret passage, the latter installed more than one hundred years before by a workman who just forgot to tell anybody about it.
I would be disturbed in my exploits only by the occasional rustle of a little whiskered fellow- which was an intriguing addition to the atmosphere- or by an occasional shout from below for dinner- which was not.
Nobody ever went up to the attic; my notions of mystery, of having an entire world to myself, remained intact.
And then one day I dived headfirst into the musty, disused stacks of clothing and landed sharply on something alien.
I had waited so long to discover something of historical significance, to be the Marco Polo of attics.
I was conscious of my own heartbeat thundering away as I sank my hand into the moth-bitten depths. I pulled up a can of baked beans in tomato sauce.
On closer inspection, it appeared to be an artifact from my own century. They were my favourite kind, as it turned out. I was soon surrounded by cans of soup and beans and vegetables as I excavated one item after another.
There might have been fifty cans squirreled away up there, and I found them- usually accidentally- over a period of months.
It seemed my mother had determined, by way of the gloomy newspaper articles and ominous television reports, that the world could soon come to an end, and she was being logical in preparing for the worst by peppering the attic with non-perishable food supplies.
Much as I searched, however, I never stumbled across a can opener. Or a spoon, for that matter. Perhaps they are up there yet, rusting away for the better part of twenty years. Perhaps.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 1:14 PM