As I left school, I clutched my backpackand walked briskly. I felt carefree because the junior high cross-country season had ended and this was myfirst free weekend since school had begun. I had great plans at my grandparents' house. I could hardly waitto be there.
I waved good-bye to my friends as I climbed into my mother's van. When we pulledinto my grandparents' driveway, I could already smell brownies baking. Grandma and I sat in the kitchen,talking and eating brownies.
One thing I loved was exploring their attic full of old pictures, toysand other treasures. This time, I spotted a purple, flowered trunk without a keyhole. I strained my armsand lifted the lid. It was very heavy and closed with a crash. Grandma came rushing up thestairs.
"Is everything all right?" she asked. "I heard a crash and thought youmight have hurt yourself."
"I found this trunk and thought there might be somethinginteresting in it."
We sat on the floor and began looking through it. We found pictures,presents and old jewelry. Grandma's eyes twinkled as I pulled an old, raggedy doll from thebottom.
"You found Annie, my doll," she said, touching it gently with her wornhands.
"Was she special to you?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," Grandmasaid. "When I was little I used to tell her everything. She was given to me during the GreatDepression. I was very young, but I remember money and food were in short supply. My mother fixedcornmeal mush and beans for supper almost every night because that was all we could afford. Father losthis job at the mill and times were hard.
"We had love, though, and at least we were notstarving." Grandma smiled and went down to start supper. I held the doll and imagined I was living inthe Great Depression. I was sitting at an old oak table with two girls and a boy. A man entered and sat withus; a woman put beans and mush in the center.
"Eat your supper, Beatrice," said thewoman. "You know money is tight and we should be grateful for everything wehave."
Grandma's name is Beatrice, I thought, and the puzzle pieces fit together. The dollwas special and had taken me to another time. I ran down the stairs to tell Grandma.
"I toldyou Annie is special," she said. "She is full of stories about our lifetogether."
"Were the other children at the table your sisters and brother?" Iasked.
"Yes, they were Janine, Barbara and Junior," Grandma replied. "We usedto have such fun, especially Janine and me. We loved to play, of course, and we fought a little, too. She wasmy best friend. In the summer, we would make mud pies and play bakery. I guess we used our imaginationsto escape the hard times."
I stroked the doll's hair.
"Beatrice, you can makethe sign for the bakery," said Janine. "We can sell pies and use the money to buy somethingbesides beans and cornmeal."
They laughed, thinking about people eating mudpies.
"I enjoy hearing about your childhood, but being there is even better," Iremarked. "I am so glad we found your doll."
"Annie is special, but she iscontrolled by your imagination. We have had many adventures together," said Grandma. "Whenyou leave on Sunday, I want you to take her. Annie is still the same age she was when I got her. She has along life ahead of her and I want you to share it."
I hugged Grandma and held Annie tightly aswe headed to the kitchen for supper. The doll was a treasure, but the real treasures were the storiesGrandma told. As I walked past the window I was sure I saw Janine on the porch, calling for Beatrice tocome out and play.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.