The sunlight slanted through her window, dancing merrily around the room: the crayon drawings still taped on the walls, the beanbag chair sitting invitingly on the floor, the magenta streak on her desk from when she had drawn a particularly messy oil pastel scene. Kathy smiled, lost in the deluge of memories. This room was special to her, and yet she would be leaving it forever in two weeks. She would be moving clear across the country, from California to Massachusetts.
After a few moments she sighed and sat down on the floor. She pulled a stack of books toward her and started sorting through them. Old picture books? Into the bin without a second glance. Roald Dahl? Kathy stared at them for a minute and then tossed them onto the pile of books to ask her brother if he wanted them.
Her cleaning went well. In half an hour she was on her bottom shelf, with the taller books: comic compilations, encyclopedias of science and mammals, an old photo album, and assorted art books. Kathy flipped through the photo album for a few minutes, enjoying pictures from the first five years of her life, and then she saw the binder.
Frowning, she pulled it out. She had no idea what the half-inch plastic binder contained. But as soon as she saw the cover, a grin spread across her face and she settled more comfortably against her wall. “Kathy’s Stories, age 9,” it read in a childish hand. When she was nine, Kathy had gone through a writing phase where she churned out five stories per week. She hadn’t looked at them in years, probably since they were first written. Kathy opened the binder and began to read.
A clock ticked regularly in the background and the dust motes swirled around her, becoming golden when the ray of sunlight coming through the window leveled as the afternoon wore on. A deep silence spread around the house. Her brother suspiciously became quiet. The clattering from the kitchen became more muted. Even the very birds outside Kathy’s window seemed to stop singing. Kathy delved through time and space, completely alone, held captive by the words of her nine-year-old self. Nothing existed except the words on the paper, speaking with a volition of their own about fantastic faraway lands and heroes who triumphed over evil (interestingly enough, they were all named Kathy) and amazing, exotic beasts illustrated in compelling colors and seeming to breathe with life and spirit. The words wove a complex spell around Kathy, and she sat late into the afternoon, drinking in tale after tale of increasing interest and skill.
At last she reached the final story. This one was written at least six months after the others. Kathy remembered that she had wanted to write a story set in the future. A realistic one, unlike her other stories of heroism and adventure. It was titled simply “Memories.” Kathy scanned the page and frowned in disappointment. Only one small paragraph had been written under the title. Apparently she hadn’t had time to finish it. The paragraph read:
The sunlight slanted through her window, dancing merrily around the room: the crayon drawings still taped on the walls, the beanbag chair sitting invitingly on the floor, the magenta streak on her desk from when she had drawn a particularly messy oil pastel scene. Kathy smiled, lost in the deluge of memories. This room was special to her, and yet she would be leaving it forever in two weeks.
But there it stopped. The real Kathy gasped. As a nine-year-old, she had written about the very event that was happening to her now! But as Kathy raised her eyes from the page, the world came awake again. The spell was broken. The house was awakening as from a deep sleep. The birds again began to chatter, the scent of lasagna drifted from the kitchen, and Kathy’s brother began once more to whistle to himself. Kathy still sat immobile, but after a few minutes she came to a decision. She turned the page onto a blank sheet and began to write, continuing the story about moving but melding it to the one in the binder. Her neat, slanted handwriting contrasted strongly with how she had written as a nine-year-old, but her style was much the same. Kathy wrote late into the evening, until she was pleased. She read it through once more, checking for mistakes. She didn’t edit the first paragraph at all.