Jen had argued a blue streak the place was safe. She had been inside of the root cellar with her Grandpa when she was younger, and his words still came to her when the conversation came up.
“It’s built to last long after you will be gone, little one.”
Not, long after he would be gone, but long after Jen would be gone. Why couldn’t her parents see that?
She had disobeyed them on a few occasion when it came to the hill.
Once on a dare from her best friend who was certain the root cellar was haunted and that’s why her parents didn’t want her going there.
Another time was when her parents were away and Jen’s older cousin had come to stay with her. Her cousin was so busy texting about how there was nothing to do way out here she had only nodded her head and raised her hand to wave when Jen told her she was going to the hill to watch for U.F.O’s.
She had taken a saddle blanket from the barn to lay on. Stretched out on the grassy knoll, counted stars, found her favourite constellations and happily watched for extraterrestrial movement across the ebony sky.
Her parents had been livid when her cousin snitched on her. Since the cousin was older and supposed to be in charge, Jen had gotten off with a reprimand and a staunch warning to not pull this stunt again. The cousin had been quite happy to know she wouldn’t be asked back to keep Jen company anytime soon.
Again, Jen’s augment fell on deaf ears. Her Grandpa’s words seemed to mean nothing to her parents when she pleaded with her Dad to go with her to check out the root cellar. She had even conceded that if there was evidence to decay inside, she would drop the subject. He finally agreed to think about it, suggested there had been enough talk, and it was time for her to be focusing on her homework.
Her class was studying what goes on that is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. There was much debate in the classroom about U.F.O’s versus space stations and falling stars that were actually a form of meteor. Jen knew from her own experience from visits to the hill, she had lots of material to write her paper. But, it was the discussion that ensued in the next class that piqued her interest more. The teacher, unbeknown to him, had dropped a gauntlet when he had provided dates of the next known mentor shower that would take place.
“If you are in the right place, and it’s a clear night, you will see hundreds of meteors flashing across the night sky.”
Jen knew she had to persuade her parents to let her be on the hill on one of those dates. But how? To get her Dad to check out the root cellar in time she was certain she would need a miracle. She knew better than to keep asking her him about when they could go.
Jen couldn’t believe her ears.
“Thanks, Dad.” Was all she dared say, although it was evident in her smile and tone of her voice she was excited.
She didn’t hurry through her chores. Her Dad was aware of how long it should take her and take any less time would have him wondering if she had done a good job. It was just shy of noon when she came into the house where she found her Dad was taking off his coat. She was crestfallen.
“Thought we’d have some lunch and then go to your root cellar.” Was all he said before leaving her to shed her own jacket.
There was no hurrying the meal and the talk around the table between her parents. Finally, it was time and Jen was surprised when both her parents put on their coats.
“I might as well come, too.” Her Mom said, “Then I know there will be no argument with what we find.”
The outer door creaked open on rusty hinges and Jen and her Mom stood back until the inner door was opened too. Her Dad had brought an old lantern from the barn. Striking a match, the tiny glow illuminated the dark entry of the root cellar. Jen held her breath until the lantern her Dad carried came to life showing the room in its entirety. Nothing looked like it had changed since she had been here with her Grandpa. Closing her eyes, she stood still breathing in the pungent, earthy odour.
“Ceiling and walls don’t show any sign of water coming through or rot. No dirt has sifted through either.”
Jen’s fingers were crossed in her jacket pockets watching her Dad inspect the inside perimeters of the room.
“Clear out some of these cobwebs, oil the hinges, update the bins, and I think we could put this place to use, again.”
Jen still said nothing listening to her parents who were having a conversation as if she wasn’t there.
“I’ll have to check the vent. Make sure nothing has nested in it over the years to block it off.”
“It’s clear! Grandpa used to check it and showed me how.” Jen’s hand flew to cover her mouth.
The cat was out of the bag. The suspicions that their daughter had been to the hill more often than she had been caught doing, was now confirmed. In the lamplight, Jen couldn’t tell if it was a smile tickling the edges of her Dad’s mouth, or if he was getting ready to scold her.
“Well, I’d like to check it anyway.” He said, extending his hand towards the open door. “Why don’t we do that now and get it out of the way?”
The three hundred and sixty-degree turn of events was still sinking into Jen’s mind as the three of them walked back towards the house. Her parents still hadn’t told her she could visit the hill whenever she wanted, but they hadn’t said she couldn’t, either. It wouldn’t be until after an evening meal the next week, that the verdict would be brought down.
“Dad and I have discussed our outing to the root cellar, and our findings. Over the next little while, we will be preparing it for its intended use. You can help by drawing out what you remember from your visits with your Grandpa.”
Jen smiled and nodded. She had made sketches years before about what was in each bin. Still, there was nothing about being allowed to go to the hill that housed the cellar. The meteor showers started on the weekend and that was only a few days away.
“By the way, your science teacher called to discuss your latest paper you handed in. He was impressed with your knowledge and how you had described events that happen in our night sky. Wanted us to know he was pleased there were parents who encouraged their children to be outside at night to learn about such things.”
Her Dad pushed his chair away from the table before continuing.
“He seemed to think we have the perfect place to view such things. I wonder where he got that idea from?”
Jen sheepishly looked at her Dad. Busted by the science teacher with nowhere to go but plow right in.
“He wanted to know where and how I got my descriptions about the sky. Said it was like I was right there. I told him about the hill and how I go there to watch the sky. I said it was the best place in the world because my Grandpa used to take me there to wish on falling stars.”
Two nights later Jen’s science class lay sprawled on the hill, the black sky exploding with meteors crisscrossing all over.
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