Over the last few weeks I have been conducting a house-keeping exercise on the blog and going through all the posts dating back to 2013. Some I have rescued and others were reblogs or now out of date. However, I have found some that you might enjoy again especially those of you who have only connected with me in the last couple of years.
This story was a part of a personalised contest that I did in December 2015 when I had just published Tales from the Garden. Three names were drawn out of a hat and I wrote a personalised story for them. This was the one that I wrote for Annette Rochelle Aben and I hope that you enjoy.. and if you are not connected to this lovely supportive poet, author and blogger then I do suggest you remedy that. I realise that some of us are sweltering in a heatwave but friends on the other side of the world are in the middle of their winter…
Wordsmith, author and broadcaster Annette Rochelle Aben was one of the winners of the personalised story and has sent me some photographs and the names of her brother and sister to be included in the tale. It is a fairy story so I have of course taken the full licence that this gives me to make stuff up!
The Time Capsule by Sally Cronin
The three children sat on the green swing seat that was tucked in beside the newly planted tree just as the sun was setting behind the wooden fence. Mitchell sat between his two sisters as he pushed them back and forth with the heel of his sneakers. On his lap was a slightly rusty metal box. They had removed it from the garage where it had been stored on a shelf after their move into the house; being empty it seemed safe to assume that it was not needed by their mother for anything important.
The lid was open and they examined the contents with great care. After all this was going to be buried with some ceremony beside the sapling. It was their very special time capsule; to be discovered it was hoped by other children in some far off distant century. Lorraine and Annette had contributed most of the items although it had required much deliberation. Despite missing a leg, both girls would miss Barbie, but you hardly noticed as they had dressed her in a red maxi dress that covered that little defect quite well. There was a miniature china horse with a small chip out of one ear and a pack of silly putty. Mitchell had been slightly dismissive of his sisters’ contributions and had decided on the ultimate sacrifice. He gently smoothed over the space suit of GI Joe Astronaut and worried about the vacant spot in his collection on the shelf in his bedroom.
Apart from the toys there were some baseball cards and three foreign postage stamps; rescued from the envelopes of last year’s Christmas cards. They had also felt that they should each put in a bar of their favourite candy which had been a great sacrifice for Annette; she was a fiend around chocolate. Mitchell had carefully written out all their names and birthdays on a postcard and placed it on top of the items. Satisfied that they had represented the year 1974 in style they continued to swing back and forth in the fading sunlight for a little while longer admiring their handiwork.
Little did they know that they were being watched. In the shade of the hedge hidden from view were some figures that were highly interested in the proceedings. A small garden gnome and stone puppy dog that had been overlooked when the previous owners had packed up and left the house.
‘Did you see what I see,’ the gnome nudged his canine companion. ‘Chocolate and lots of it, when was the last time we saw any of that?’
The puppy turned his head and licked his lips. ‘It’s been a while Fred, I wouldn’t mind getting my teeth into one of those bars.’
The gnome hopped up and sat on the plastic toadstool that had been abandoned along with them and rested his chin in his stubby little fingers. They watched as the three children slid off the swing seat and headed towards them. Just as it seemed that they would be discovered, Mitchell stopped and knelt down on the soft grass. He closed the lid with a satisfying click and the two girls placed their hands on his shoulders as he popped the box into the freshly dug hole. The children were not sure if you should say anything special at this point but after Mitchell had covered the box with the dark soil, they stood in silence for a moment or two. There was an old iron lamp stand in the shape of a shepherd’s crook and with the help of the girls; Mitchell pushed it into the ground to mark the spot
As the children walked hand in hand back to the house, the gnome and the puppy looked at each other in delight.
‘Go on then,’ the gnome nudged the little dog. ‘Do what you do best.’
Over forty years later and Mitchell, Lorraine and Annette stood in the kitchen of the house and contemplated the garden. They had been planning on a special expedition today but had woken to find that the first snow of the winter had covered everything with a fine blanket of white.
They had spent all last night discussing the time capsule and whether or not it was still safely buried in the spot under the now mature tree. They had completely forgotten about it since their return to the family home. Then a discussion over supper one night had brought memories flooding back of their childhood including the escapades they had got up to. Since they were all fired up and determined to find out if their box had survived the various garden makeovers, they donned warm coats and gloves and headed out of the kitchen door. Mitchell went off and gathered up some tools from the garage to tackle the frozen ground and then joined his sisters at the archaeological site.
The wrought iron lamp holder was still in the same place. They remembered how a lantern would be hung from it when they had cookouts in the summer months as they grew to adulthood. Slightly rusty; it still guarded the special spot where they had buried their almost forgotten treasure.
It took twenty minutes of concentrated digging in the hard earth but eventually Mitchell heard a clang as his shovel hit metal. In a few minutes the box was revealed, darkened with age but still intact. The three of them worked the soil away from the edges and pried it loose. Shivering the three returned to the house and into the warmth of the kitchen and Mitchell placed the box on layers of newspaper on the table.
Cupping hands around mugs of tea and coffee, they stared at this physical reminder of their childhood and the years spent here before they dispersed into their adult lives. Gingerly Annette prised open the reluctant lid with a screwdriver and they all leant forward to look at the contents.
Lorraine took the postcard and the items out one by one and laid them on the newspaper; astonishingly the precious momentos were in the same condition as when they were buried. However, when they reached the bottom of the box it was to find three empty candy wrappers flattened and placed side by side neatly. Immediately Mitchell and Lorraine turned and looked at Annette as the most likely culprit.
‘What are you looking at me for?’ she stared back at them defiantly. ‘I swear I didn’t take the candy, I haven’t seen the inside of that box since we buried it in 1974.’
The three of them spent most of the day trying to come up with a reasonable explanation. In the end they gave up and decided that perhaps their mother Nancy had discovered the box when gardening; eaten the candy bars and reburied the box as a practical joke on them all.
Outside in the snow the gnome and the puppy sat in the same gloomy spot they had occupied for half a century; frankly bored daft for most of the time. The gnome patted the puppy’s head and grinned delightedly.
‘I’d have paid my best magic mushrooms to have seen the look on their faces when they found those empty wrappers.’ He turned to look at the light shining into the wintery garden from the kitchen window. ‘Now that they are back for good, we need to think up some more tricks to keep them busy.’
©sallycronin 2015 ©images Annette Rochelle Aben
Annette is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.
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I hope you have enjoyed the story and since Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story is now finished, I am going to start sharing What’s in a Name – Volume One from next weekend. It was recently offered free during the sale but I would love to share the stories with you again as it is three years since they were featured. I hope you will pop in.