I Am Isabel the Storyteller

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Tag: an Isabel story from the Way-Back Seat of her memory

#15. I fill in the blanks: “Nothing cures_______ like________.

I’m not homesick, exactly. Homesick is more like that time I went to Nature’s Classroom and missed Dad’s grilled cheese.*

And, I don’t know if there ARE any good towers to explore around here The ancient wooden fire tower at West Lake is no Hogarts’ Astronomy Tower.  I would love to climb that steep spiral staircase, pull on the iron ring-handled door leading out onto the crenellated ramparts, the parapet and all that. But that’s in a book. This is life.

What if I treat “unexplored tower” as a metaphor—a message about something else?

My mind wanders to Harry Potter and how sad I was when I finished the series…

All of a sudden it seems like a big hand–a Dad-size hand–is on my back, nudging me. I straighten up and start to talk out loud.  

Or maybe it’s that I’m HEARTSICK.  Not HOMESICK. Hmmm.  HEARTSICK for Mom and Dad. 

The words “unexplored tower” still puzzle me, but I’ve always thought of puzzles as a kind of pump. Mimi has a pump in her little catfish pond. It’s got a photovoltaic panel that uses the energy from the sun to run its motor, so it can squirt the pond water up into a fountain. (Besides getting good air into the water, it makes rainbows too.)

So. I’m pumped.  And I’m catching the sunlight. Energized.

I find a t-shirt and jeans.  I pull on my socks.

An Unexplored Tower could be anything explore, or find out about. Or do.

I tie my sneakers tight, so I won’t trip on the laces.  

It could be like a quest or a job. It doesn’t have to be a real tower. 

I go back to the first lace and double-knot it.

I know exactly what my quest will be.

Revenge. I will seek vengeance on the guy who killed Mom and Dad.

I double-knot the other lace and stamp my foot back to the floor. I do a mental inventory. Hey, this is good. I can’t feel determined AND heartsick at the same time. I’ve found a “tower” to explore!  I race downstairs, but stumble on the last step when I wonder if Dad would agree with my cure for heartsickness.

Well, he isn’t here now, and I do.  I do agree with myself, that is.

ISABEL

* See my comment in the comment-reply section for Dad’s recipe for grilled cheese. It was Pop’s originally, so he was able to pull it out of his recipe box when I asked about it today.

isabelinchair

#14. I, Isabel Scheherazade find a bookmark on a special page of one of my favorite books and I THINK I’m getting a message from Dad. Can this be possible?

I’m still in bed gathering steam when my eyes land on one of my old storybooks–Beauty and the Beast.  I love all the versions of that story, this one especially. When Dad read it to me, he said, This is one plucky girl. Like you, Isabel.

I think about this and mutter, USED to be, Dad; I USED to be a plucky girl.

I’m not feeling plucky these days.

I spy a feather bookmark. Dad put feather markers on important pages in his books and mine.

I get out of bed, pull Beauty and the Beast off the shelf, and open it to the page with the feather.  I stroke it smooth. It’s brick red on its topside and pink below.

I remember when Dad stopped at this page and places the feather in the crease, a very serious look on his face.

Isabel, listen up; this is important. He taps the words. Keep track of it, okay? He was always advising me to keep track of this or that.

This is the sentence: “Nothing cures homesickness quicker than an Unexplored Tower.”

See what it’s saying? Dad asks me. Then he reads it again.

I trace the sentence with my fingertip like Dad did. I can even hear his voice. “Nothing cures homesickness quicker than an Unexplored Tower.”

To tell you the truth, back when Dad was rereading the quote I didn’t get what was So Big about this sentence. I was more interested in finishing the story before I fell asleep.

But, now, here in Mimi and Pop’s house, my eyes prickle and a warm feeling fills my head while I stare at the words, it’s like Dad is reaching out to me in a comforting way from the Way-Back Seat of my memory.

I lean into the magic of it all and whisper, Why’s this so important, Dad?

ISABEL

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