Walking Backwards for Christmas: Chapter 7, Part 2 — Solihull, Christmas Eve Day 1960: In a Time Warp, Dark & Empty
I’d expected Mum, Grammer, and maybe even Uncle Roddy to have returned, waiting for me, ready to cut me a new eye socket for being out so long when they’d had no idea where I was. Instead, the house was as dark and empty as when we’d left. Then I caught the clock on the wall in the corner of my eye. I turned, looked, blinked, did a double-take and looked again.
The rain must have caused something to go wrong with the mechanism. It said less than half an hour had passed from the time we’d left the house, went to Ravenshaw Ford, followed Bethany to the hollow tree, had tea, sang carols, and returned, without even counting the 90 minutes Gramfer had spent teaching me the guitar—a physical impossibility.
I went to the kitchen and then to the lounge. The clocks there all read the same time. I was bewildered; it didn’t make sense. Stan the Logician noticed my disorientation.
“How likely is it, mate, that they’d all function in the same way at the same time? It’s as your grandfather said. You weren’t in a hollow tree in Solihull. If the rules of space and climate don’t apply, then why should the rules of time?”
I was about to voice reluctant agreement with his proposition when—once again—he cut me short.
“Reggie, mate. Do you remember that chair with that box uff stuff from your Aunt’s room, the box where we found the Oscars game? I think you’d best look on top uff that box now.”
So, I looked. I thought I was seeing things—some kind of wish fulfillment hallucination. There, lying half in, half out of the box, was the battered guitar case. I gingerly walked over, almost on tiptoe, scarcely daring to believe my luck. My hands shook slightly as I lifted the case from the box and set it on its own comfy chair, a meter or so away. My hands still shook as I opened the case.
It was there—I hadn’t lost it! Gramfer’s guitar was there!
At the base of the neck, next to the box, was a bunch of fresh bluebells, a scrolled piece of paper atop them, addressed simply “Angharad,” tied together with a black and purple ribbon. At the head was another piece of paper, addressed to me:
Reggie, my dear Grandson, my little ball of sunshine,
Here’s the guitar you forgot to bring with you. You really should learn to take better care of your things—people won’t always be around to do it for you. Remember what you learned today, and practice, boy, practice. Keep the magic coming through for you.
But don’t touch the guitar further—especially the blue bells and the note—‘til your grammer gets home. And don’t read the note under any circumstances—understand?
I’m going to miss you and all the fun we had.
I was thrilled and overjoyed beyond measure.
It was all I could do not to lift the guitar from the case but orders were orders. Still, I wondered how he had got the guitar back to me. I didn’t have to wonder long. Scrawled at the bottom of the page, folded over from the rest, read the following:
My wee Reggie,
Glad am I for the happy chance as to bring this to thee. I pray Jove and such chance as bring occasion for thou to play it for me again, soon.
Thy loving didi,
I folded the paper over and put it in my jacket pocket. It was probably best that Mum and Grammer not see it when they came in, though I otherwise left the guitar as I’d found it. Stan and I returned to the table and the Oscars game, playing as if nothing else had happened when Mum and Grammer walked through the door 45 minutes later.
© 2014, 2015, 2017 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
It’s here! The Third Edition of “Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall” (the version that you’ve seen serialized), is now available from Amazon. Volume 1 of the sequel, “The Bluebottle Boys” is coming — coming soon. Stay tuned for details.
G. H. McCallum
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