Across the Room and Into the Fire, Pt. 3


Summer has an odd way of lasting forever and vanishing in an instant.

One morning, our grandmother told us that my father would be coming to collect us the following morning. She said this without a trace of emotion. I looked at my grandfather, who did not look up from his newspaper.

My first feeling was one of joy; I missed my parents. But that joy was soon diluted by the realisation that the secret library in the attic would no longer be at my disposal.

Only, the secret library was no longer a secret, and neither were the frequent visits my brother and I had been making. We had both borrowed several books by this time. Nothing that either one of us read was a bore to the other, but we definitely had our favorite subjects. I tended to read more books about history, adventure, and other countries. He was the science man, his favourite subject being dinosaurs. He became so engrossed in one book that he wandered down to dinner one evening whilst still reading. I was already at the table and sat there in horror as he took his chair without looking up from his book.

“What’re you after reading?” my granny asked.

“Book,” he grumbled, still not looking up.

“About?” She was smiling, which I took as a sign that we were about to be cooked and eaten.

That was when he came to, so to speak. He looked up as if he were waking from a dream, and realised that he was caught, and also the futility of an escape attempt.


“And where did you get it?”

I was staring a hole in him. It was no use.

“The attic.”


That was it. That was all she said. We ate without saying a word. I could see her looking at me out of the corner of my eye, as if she were waiting for me to say something, but I had nothing to say, and after dinner we went off to bed. As we lay there, I thought about scolding my brother, or perhaps beating him senseless in the quietest fashion possible, but before I could do either of these things, he said, “I guess we can read the books downstairs now.”

“Reckon so.” I couldn’t understand any of it; if it was alright for us to go up in the attic, why had she made a point of telling us not to do so?

Regardless of her reason, we began reading our books in the sitting room. She would take note of which books we had borrowed, sometimes commenting on our choices. Why that book? What did you think of it? And, if we became bored with a book and began to creep upstairs for a replacement, —

“Don’t take it out of the feckin’ attic if you’re not going to read it! I have them all just where I want them.”

And so we had become quite attached to “our” books, and I was even beginning to like my granny just a bit, and now it was all over. Back to our parents, yes, but also back to school and God only knew what it was going to be like this year, definitely not an attic full of books that we actually wanted to read, full of things we needed to learn. I thought about trying to steal a book or two to take home, but felt guilty about it, and in my child’s mind I actually believed that my granny knew where each and every volume was kept. I tried to turn my thoughts to my mother and father and my school friends as I fell asleep that night.

In the morning, shortly before my father arrived, my grandfather shook hands with us and gave us some money. This was how he told us he loved us, and I had no problem with that whatsoever.

Then it was my grandmother’s turn.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked my brother.

“A scientist.”

“Alright, then.” She gave him a rather large children’s science book that had most likely belonged to my father. He gave thanks and put the book under his arm. She looked at me.

“What about you?”

I hesitantly told her that I wanted to be a pilot. I hesitated because if I had said this to one of my teachers at school, they would have come back with some sort of remark like, “Get your head out of the clouds”, or “Don’t go getting above your station. Who do you think you are?” and I feared the same from her.

She nodded and went to her own bookshelves, which were set into the walls of the sitting room, searched for a bit, came back with a book and handed it to me.

“You’ll need to read this one, I think.”

I read the title.

Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

I looked through the book. No pictures. I looked up at her.

“This will teach me how to fly?”

Just then my father came through the door. My brother and I ran to him and he grabbed us in his arms. My grandfather rose from his chair and began speaking with my father about something that didn’t concern us boys. They moved toward the kitchen. Before we left, my grandmother said, “Oh, wait now. I”ll be right back.” She went upstairs again and came down with yet another book and handed it to me. It was a fluffy cloth book, a baby’s book. I gave her a quizzical look.

“For the little brother,” she said.

I looked at my little brother.

“Not that one, you idiot. The new one.”

(to be continued…)


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51 Responses to Across the Room and Into the Fire, Pt. 3

  1. Well, I wonder what book she picked out for little brother? Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. benmadigan says:

    lovely, lovely – with the baby brother hook to the next installment – can’t wait

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Crow says:

    This is really great. I enjoyed it a lot!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Not that one, you idiot. The new one.”

    Haha! Your grandmother was funny!! Wonderful story.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Very well told, with surprise ending

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Monochrome nightmares says:

    “What’re you after reading?”
    That line is just so Irish.
    I love it.
    Great story. Looking forward to the
    next instalment. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That phrase “beating him senseless in the quietest fashion possible” is hilarious. Glad U decided not to try.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love the story
    love the old world feel of it
    Flowed great
    Rock solid

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The brood grows . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am enjoying this story very much. I haven’t added to my serial story in a long time, I’m inspired to do so 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      Thank you very much. It’s difficult, isn’t it, writing a serial?
      I’m enjoying your writing, kicking myself a bit for having taken so long to find your site. I’m very glad I did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • your comment made my day, thank you

        Yes, it seemed easy when I started but I got bogged down with it after awhile, not sure where it was going to go

        Is yours a true story or fiction?

        Liked by 1 person

      • oglach says:

        My story is true, but that makes it harder for me to write in some ways; once I’ve finished with the “rough draft” here, I plan to write the story in full, which will probably be novella length or greater.
        I haven’t started reading your story yet, but I am very much looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful memoir. Please continue with a Part 4…. you are a wonderful story-teller. And, your granny, she was such a nice, kind and intelligent lady. She had a great knowledge about child’s psychology. The thing attracts him more he has been restricted access to 😀 I think, for this reason, she played a little drama with you and your brother, for your own good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Aww – I just loooove this grandmother! What a magnificent woman she is 😀 (and I also wouldn’t have a problem with how his grandfather showed his love 😉 that way he can buy himself more books 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yep, I think we may have been psychicly separated at birth… I had an uncle whose wife didn’t like the clutter of his stacks and stacks of science fiction paperbacks. She made him store them in the den with the door closed (like they might get out). When we visited in summers, I would sit in the dark den and read book after book of science fiction’s “greats”….She was a speech pathologist, he was a dry cleaner. It’s him I miss, but it’s because of her I snuck into the den in the first place…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. skat says:

    Shall I just call you “Shanachie” now? I’m glad I waited, because I can read the installments all at once, and I don’t have to wait for satisfaction. Great stuff. Truly.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jac forsyth says:

    Man, that moment when grandma asked what he was reading… Loving this series, mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This reminds me, I’ll need a dinosaur book for the kids library! I had a book about dinosaurs, planets, all that. I loved them. They told me what I’d weigh on mars, the chemicals. I’ll have to google the one the little pilot got.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. inesephoto says:

    Your grandmother was a remarkable Lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. skat says:

    I feel privileged to be let in to this family’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

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