by Samantha Beatty
inspired by Patricia Tuzzolino’s demo-lesson
(and Chris Van Allsburg’s Mysteries of Harris Burdick)
Late one night, Clarissa got changed into her pajamas choosing a tank top as the summer heat was quite suffocating. She snuggled into her twin sized bed. As each part of her body relaxed, she enveloped herself with her baby blue blanket. Rolling to her left side, she reached into her white bedside table and pulled out the mysterious book her grandfather had given her. She felt the worn binding and the antique smell reminded her of her grandparent’s house. He had warned her about the book, but Clarissa didn’t listen. She was not one to follow rules- she looked at life as individual adventures.
She switched on the small lamp that sat on the bedside table. The light offered a small glow illuminating strange shadows on the wall. Clarissa didn’t notice the odd shadows as she was too enthralled with the inscription on the inside cover of the book- The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.
She ran her fingers over the printed words. She turned the page with trepidation and began to read. She suddenly realized the book was a palimpsest. She stared at the strange pages within the book her grandfather gave her two years ago. Again her fingers glided over the writing and she wondered about the original writing underneath. Suddenly, Clarissa noticed that wherever her fingers touched the book small branches with leaves were growing out of the middle of the book. They were delicate, thin, and fragile looking. With a look of horror on her face, Clarissa finally made the connection- it was the second year she had the book and the inscription read- the second year it creeps. It was true. The petite branches covered in leaves continued to creep out of the center of the book like vines.
Clarissa was struck with terror and amazement. As one branch finally broke free from the center of the book, so did a shadowy female figure. This shadowy being looked down at her and smiled. While staring at this woman, Clarissa experienced a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that maybe she knew this woman.
Another branch escaped the book, the vines and beginning of a tree began to overtake Clarissa’s bed. Along with this branch, another shadowy shape entered the light. Clarissa instantly recognized her as her grandmother. Clarissa was stunned into silence. She stared curiously at the ghost of her grandmother as the branches continued to emerge from the book now forming quite a large tree. Every time a branch materialized out of the book another ghostly figure appeared.
Clarissa was unsure of how much time had passed, but eventually the tree stopped growing from the book. She now sat on her bed underneath a large oak tree entwined with ghostly beings from her past. Each one a branch of her family tree. The higher up in the tree, the deeper her family history.
And in that moment, Clarissa thought about the inscription- the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.