The toy track was set. It had been tied to the end of the chair’s arm using far too many rubber bands and stretched far into the lounge room of my grandparent’s house. Grannie cast her motherly gaze over us as if to say, ‘Go for it!’ Mum cast her motherly gaze over us as if to say, ‘Don’t you dare break anything!’
The little blue car we judged to be the fastest was set upon the track and began its journey down the slope and around the bend. This time a wheel caught a join and caused the car to leave the track half way around the bend, coming to rest in the dark recess next to a bookshelf that had resided beside the fireplace since time immemorial.
I found the car next to a drawer in the bottom of the bookshelf. It was one of those curious drawers that, to some people, seem to be a mere piece of wood but to me seemed like the very treasure chests of Flint himself! It had a strange curved handle and hole for a key, not that I could see one anywhere. I tugged at the handle and the drawer came open, its quiet groans of protest covered by the continuing automotive carnage behind me.
The drawer contained an assortment of little bits and pieces and my ten-year-old imagination was soon lost in a forgotten time. For a moment anyway. It seemed that the whole drawer was filled with old and dusty junk. The first thing I noticed was a small doll. It was the hand-sewn kind with a little pinafore covered in pink flowers. It was so old that it had lost an eye and the material was faded. I thought perhaps that it was Grannie’s but she was so old! I don’t think she was ever a child so why would she have a toy?
There was an odd assortment of buttons and bracelets, a silver marble and a curious looking piece of paper. It said something about a school and it had the name ‘Joan’ on it. I have no idea who that was. I suppose Grannie went to school once but I don’t know when or where or why she had this person’s paper instead of one with ‘Grannie’ written on it.
There was an empty ring box with blue velvet all over the cover and silk on the inside. I checked in the drawer to see if the ring had fallen out but I couldn’t seem to find it. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I hope Grannie knows what happened to it.’
An old ointment tin caught my eye next. Opening it revealed a pair of baby’s socks and an empty box of bandaids. I’d never seen bandaids that looked like that. I suppose Grannie kept them hidden there in case of emergencies but the socks I had no clue about. I peeked around the corner to check but I was already pretty sure that Uncle John’s feet were too big for these socks. I wonder who Grannie used them for?
A gold watch was hidden under some scarlet ribbon. I knew the watch was Grandad’s. I’d seen him wearing it before he died. He used to wear it on walks to see the trains at the railway footbridge. I looked over at Grannie. Where all these things hers? Some sort of trinket box from a long time ago?
Right down the bottom of the drawer there were some pictures. Photographs of people outside houses and at the beach and of a young soldier with a strange hat on. There were some photos of babies I didn’t recognise but they looked much better because they were colour. One caught my eye though: a black and white one outside a church. A young man and lady all dressed up stood there with humungous smiles on their faces. They looked really happy.
My little brother fell off his chair at that moment and began giggling outrageously. Everyone joined in the laughter and in that moment I saw on Grannie’s face the same smile as the lady in the photo had.
I looked at the photo, then Grannie and the photo again. The junk in the drawer wasn’t junk at all! It was the treasure of the story of a lifetime. Looking at the hopeful smile of the lady in the photo, the trinkets and the smile on Grannie’s face as she watched us play told me that it was indeed a long and happy story.
I quickly and carefully replaced the treasures in their little drawer in the dusty corner by the fireplace just as my older brother asked what I was doing. I smiled to myself as I wondered if I had been one of those babies in the photos.
I grabbed the blue car and headed back to the game. It was after all the fastest one.