It was a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Thomas and his sister Rose took their family rowboat out onto the lake behind their grandmother’s cabin; each taking turns rowing. The silence freeing. Neither of them felt particularly zealous to arrive at their destination quickly. As they rowed towards the island, in the middle of the lake, clouds began to move in casting gray shadows on the horizon.
Thomas stood up slowly in the aging rowboat as they neared the dock and grabbed the railing. He jumped out and tied the rowboat to a post; securing their safe return to shore. Rose followed. Older, by four years to Thomas, she enjoyed letting him handle the practical logistics; swapping responsibility for a few hours of freedom before she returned to reality.
Compass in hand, they made the trek to their favorite cave which they adopted in their youth. Nestled among the trees It allowed them a place to escape the difficulties of their mother’s Alzheimer’s. To forget that memories were fleeting. The cave symbolized stability, permanence in a world that could not offer the same level of protection. The entrance to it always seemed like home; protective and welcoming. They spread their picnic lunch. Thomas gathered kindling and wood to start a small fire to take the chill out of the air. Rose went exploring in the cave, running her hands over the cool granite rock as she went along; its rough edges reminding her of herself.
There it was. The granite rock that she and Thomas used to sit on and talk for hours as teenagers. She sat down and leaned back. Ouch! What was that she felt? Using her flashlight, Rose turned around and shone the light behind the rock. The spiral edge of a notebook sticking out just enough to cause attention. Whose notebook is this she wondered? Rose pulled the notebook out of the crevice and blew the dust off; making her sneeze.
Rose, you okay in there? Called Thomas. Yes, she yelled back. Come here; quick! Thomas blew some more air onto the fire to get it going and ran towards Rose. Look she said! Look what I found behind the rock. Thomas looked perplexed. Who had been here? To his knowledge, no one had ever visited their cave before. Curious, he opened the notebook and out fell a sample piece of wallpaper. The kind of wallpaper that lined the walls in their grandmother’s kitchen. He swapped flashlights with Rose to get a closer look. He turned the piece of wallpaper over and there was a drawing, but to what?
Suddenly, Thomas began to run. Come on Rose we must go right now! We must get back to shore. But why shouted Rose? I will explain later. As they got to the edge of the cave they doused the fire. Grabbing the picnic lunch, they ran back to the dock as if they were in a marathon. It would take them at least a half-hour to row back to shore and the cabin of their childhood. They must get there before….
Thomas untied the rowboat and they quickly got in.
Hurry! Shouted Thomas. Row as hard as you can Rose!
The wind began to blow. Rose leaned into it, but she was quickly beginning to fade.
Finally, they reached the shore. Thomas jumped out and pulled the rowboat up onto the sandbar; he continued to run. Rose trailed behind him. The executor of his grandmother’s estate demanded that the estate sale end promptly at 5:00 p.m. It was 4:47 p.m. Thomas raced into the kitchen. He remembered the barren patch of the wall from when he built forts over the table in his grandmother’s kitchen as a child. He never thought twice about it. Pushing the table and chairs aside he saw it. He pulled out his Leatherman tool and pried the wood paneling open. He shined his flashlight inside. Tucked inside was a rolled-up piece of paper. Gently, he pulled the secret piece of paper out.
There in black and white was the deed to the cabin; gifted to both he and his sister Rose by their grandmother. In the absence of evidence, the executor had been determined to sell since her death six months before.
At 4:58 p.m., Thomas handed the deed over. He and his sister’s past, present, and future secured forever.