This short story was originally published in the Fall 2013 Central Ontario Edition of The Curious Consignment Shopper.
I feel the chill of autumn in the air on this late summer’s day. My father’s demise came too soon, before we could repair our relationship, so here I am, in his house, in his attic, packing it up and clearing it out. My three sisters are all downstairs trying to help, but they are mostly overcome with sadness. Being the only man, I feel the need to throw my feelings aside and just haul boxes.
My six-year-old daughter, Ava, has also come along to “help.”
“Daddy, why are there so many books?” she asks.
“Grandpa didn’t use a tablet for stories. He never got into it, and instead of going to the library, he just bought a book every time he wanted something to read.”
“Oh, will you read me a story?” Ava asks.
I rifle through the old man’s collection of hundreds of books to finally find a short illustrated story about a little lost dragon.
There is something familiar about the smell, the texture, and the words. The attic smells a bit like a library, and it reminds me that this was once home. I feel an overwhelming sense of happiness and warmth as I read the final words of the story: “…and the little dragon would always find his way home again.”
Ava smiles at me and asks: “can I keep the dragon book?”
“You have lots to read on your tablet, sweetie,” I reply.
“It’s not the same,” she says in a bit of a whiny voice.
A huge smile comes across my face. I remember the simple time when my father read me this exact same book. This tangible object, which has lasted longer than any tablet ever could, represents my greatest memories, and now my child wants that too.
“Yes, of course, my sweet Ava. You can keep the book. It is different! It’s better.”