Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Bookshelf

My father's house is old, dingy, run down, and what most would call cluttered. I call it cozy, broken in, I call it home. The majority of memories; precious and obscure, reside on the great oak bookshelf in the dinning room. A trophy case for times past, but not forgotten.
Not yet.

There is at least one sea shell for every time we've gone to the ocean so far this year. My father said it was astounding; the endless sorts of things the ocean churned up depending on the storm, or the current, or the wind. Once all kinds of dead sea creatures lined the beach. On clusters of sea weed beds, we found dead horse shoe crabs, fish, crabs, and dead seagulls. There were countless bones, a few baleen whale teeth, even a dead sting ray and a small shark corpse. Another time there was trash; hundreds of potato sacks drying on the sand, pieces of scrap metal, and wire from a fence. There were coconut shells, balloons, an old plate, and a tire. And once, there was drift wood. There was your typical soft, dense, pale drift wood; as well as huge dark logs warped by the sea. There were also few tangled branches, from a tree I've never seen. Not even on tv. There was even a tree, a whole entire tree with it's roots protruding out of the sand twisting into the sky, shouting that it didn't belong there. It's giant trunk sprawled out on the shore, the tree was so big it made the ocean look small. We climbed on top of it and took pictures; silhouettes on a tree, back dropped by the ocean at sunset. I found a sea scallop that day. A rare and beautiful shell, smooth and pink like a peach. It sits on top of the book shelf now, the other shells scattered near.

There is not a single book on that book shelf, not even one. But there are stacks of music we've outgrown. The CD that played “the lion sleeps tonight”at least a hundred times when I was five
is there. I don't dance to it anymore. My older brother's techno CD is retired on the shelf now. It served it's purpose back when he was determined to have at least one Cd's worth of music from every genre on his iPod. And the horrible Mariachi CD played and sung along to by my father during countless cleanings of the kitchen is now collecting dust on the shelf. Thank God.

On top of the CD'S lies the little black velvet bag that held my pearls my father bought me for my 18th birthday. He said it was something all young woman should have. Behind it are three picture collages. One for each of us, my brothers and I..when we were little. My brothers' are filled with pictures of boys in little league and soccer uniforms, action shots of water gun fights, forts, and adventures in the woods. Mine holds photos of me blowing bubbles, a little girl with her dolls, time spent with baby bunnies and my pet poodle, snap shots of pool parties with friends.

The vase my younger brother made at camp is on the shelf above the pictures. It's right next to the blue elephant piggy bank I sculpted out of clay in the 6th grade, and more recently besides the canoe I made in 10th. My father is sitting in it, fishing. All of them were father's day gifts. I didn't know what to get him this year. My graduation cards are lined up two shelves below, with wishes of happiness and good luck for the future from relatives and friends. In back of them is the map from our trip to the Smokies where we got happily lost, saw an elk, and couldn't figure out where the mountains ended, and the clouds began.

Old board games rest on top of the book shelf next to the fish food. There's battleship, checkers, and monopoly. My younger brother never beat me in checkers but he always won at battleship. My older brother played Monopoly every night with his friends a few years back. They added in some real money and cigarettes, but it didn't hold their interest for long.

There is a house plant on one side of the book shelf. On the other side is a huge barrel. A copper one, the kind that was used as a washtub for kids back in the olden days. It's filled with beach glass collected over the years; little pieces of greens, broken bits of blues, and chunks of browns. There are even a few whole bottles smoothed over by waves. It always amazed me that the ocean could turn something as sharp and rugged as glass from beer bottles into something so magnificent.

Not far from the barrel is the kitchen table where my father sits now; fumbling with his hands, asking if I'm paying attention. He's telling me that he has to pack as little as possible when he moves. He's got to get ride of all unnecessary crap and I should too, when I move out and go to college. It's efficient. He wants me to help him sort through it all..I look at him for a moment, prying my eyes back to reality and ask,

“What about the bookshelf?”




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