Soon, Dora realized there was nothing for it but to visit the attic at the top of the stairs, inside the bathroom door. Checking in on the dough and punching it down on her way through the kitchen, she smiled back at Charlie on the way up the small red staircase, “Well come on Charlie Boy! We’re going to look at the books.” An air of celebration, even more than the typical Friday night pizza and the first Fall fire day, swirled through the house, affecting everyone inside. Charlie took the stairs two at a time—a rare feat for his ten year old body.
If you didn’t know the attic was there, in the corner of the bathroom, you would never notice it. Unassuming, with its tiny hinges and latch, it blended in. Dora knew it well though and she paused in front of it, taking it all in. Long ago, Dora and her sisters pledged to never tell anyone else about the attic of books (a promise she broke when Charlie began accompanying her. She felt certain about his trustworthiness). They, at first, had wanted the pleasure of reading all to themselves. Later, the pledge became more vital when print was banned from society. They were all expected to turn in any printed material in their possession in order to completely rely on the newest digital technology. Though her sisters pleaded with Dora to comply, she refused, being the sole owner of the farm house. “No one but us knows about the attic,” she had exclaimed in exasperation.
“Don’t forget Charlie!” returned her sister. All eyes turned to Charlie, who look up innocently.
“Oh Charlie’s not going to give us up! look at him,” In the world of terriers, there never had been, nor never will be again as sweet of a display of submission as Charlie performed then. He rolled onto his back and sweetly smiled up at Dora, thus sealing the pact successfully.
So now, as Dora and Charlie paused in front of the small attic door, she recited the old pledge: This tiny, ageless nook, Wherein we keep our books, Will forever be, Secret for three, Whenever we take a look.
After her sisters had been reassigned to other locations, she changed the words to, “secret for two—she and Charlie—though it ruined the rhyme. Charlie sat appropriately reverent as Dora opened the small door. Once the latch released, the door popped open, as if on a spring, revealing the old bed spread ‘wall paper’ she had hung in her teens. Books of all sized and volumes neatly lined the walls, arranged by size of book (a system that made perfect sense to her in her youth). Now, the job of finding The Wonder Book seemed impossibly daunting in the dim light. Dora felt completely ready for the task. Walking the “stacks” of the attic library (a term she remembered from her grandfather) needed to be done on knees, so Dara carried a pillow with her. In her heart, despite her 65 years, she was still a young girl, whose sisters waited outside—a bit of coaching on her knees wasn’t a problem for her. Charlie, poised as if on guard, watched every move with interest.