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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · History · #2199888
Things don't mean much. The real secret was . . .
Writers Cramp contest co-win 9/5/19 prompt: 1919 was a big year for the world. Choose a little-known event that happened that year and write as if you were there.
Your genre is HISTORY

The calendar on the wall caught Mavis Pink’s eye. “The year 1919? I didn’t know they made these back then. Why does September 19th have a big red ‘X’ on it?"

Mavis senior blushed brighter than her favorite pink lipstick she wore. “I suppose you are old enough to learn our family secret.” She crossed her well-endowed heart, kissed her fingertips, and got down on her 19-year-old daughter’s level where she sat on the attic floor.

“Promise you won’t tell it without checking with me first. Do or die.” It was an adage used from the time Mavis junior was a wide-eyed child of three building her earliest memories. Mom wasn’t joking around. This was serious stuff.

It made the young woman offer the same cross your heart motion like an echo of the first one crossing her path. “Really? Tell me.”

The sounds of the rest of the family doing their thing down on the first floor seemed to fade into obscurity as the two women of the tribe eyed each other soberly. “It was a Friday, under the sign of Virgo. Woodrow Wilson was president then. “

Even the sound of her mother’s voice grew distant, dissolving into times past as the years flew back to that sacred moment and deposited young Mavis then and there.

Light shown through the attic window. The new wood of the house added its scent exploring her nose. “The first day the family moved in here.” That wasn’t the secret to be revealed. It was just the setting for such. A clutter of things popped up into view. The old spokes and wheel of an ancient bicycle shined new, leaning into the past she now shared.

“I’m here.” She whispered the marvel like a chant that made it so. And she was. “I hear voices down below.” The stir of family talk was lazy with the long process of moving in.

“What will happen if I join them?” The rustle of her skirts became busy with the task. Mavis Pink studied them with interest. Where had her jeans gone? “I remember. Women didn’t wear the pants of the family back then. It would be too risque.”

She folded her pleats, managing not to dislodge her balance while easing through the trap door to the ladder down below.

“Mavis? Got it all done up there?”

She turned, feeling her heart drop down to her stomach where it twisted into knots. The man she faced was the exact image of 'grandther' Mo in his younger years. The woman beside him was Mavis seen in the black and white photo taken a year after the great war to end all wars ended.

All the Mavis women looked the same. This was common knowledge, commented on by neighbors and friends. It was no secret at all. The young girl’s nose twitched. Her eyes gleamed. She could feel the presence of mystery in the air and welcomed each breath. “Yes, papa. There’s no more room except for enough sitting space to see what’s there.”

The words coming from her tongue startled her enough to make her blush. “I feel a little overheated, mother. May I go into the parlor a moment to rest?”

She had to ask quickly. The seniors of the family had to be respected. The younger set never spoke unless spoken too first. She had to get her request in quickly while the conversation was aimed at her. Manners were strick and enforced with papa’s strap or mum’s paddle on the behind of any lackluster performance. “Yes, Mavis. You do look peaked. Pinch your cheeks girl and use the piano. Playing a tune will freshen your spirits and our own.”

There it was, centered against the wall across from the fireplace. The piano was the honored guest in any home that could afford one. How often the family gathered there to harmonize and bond their weary spirits together after a long day of scrubbing clothes, toiling, making their own meals, and relishing the hour at dusk when these duties could be put aside.

Mavis slid to the bench, fingers nimbly caressing the ivory keys, every one in tune with its neighbor. Why? No-one had played this thing in years. It didn’t even need to be plugged in, now did it? Why had they let it languish so. The sounds were brilliant, the music her own to fit her mood. Laughter escaped her throat.

“Play ‘Oh What A Pal Was Mary’,” entreated the voice calling down the hallway. And she did as if it was as popular as it had been in that far gone year. The secret was just the next moment away at the end of the song.

Mavis let her hands rest on the keyboard as she felt a new presence whisper into the room. “Mavis? Meet Mavis.”

There stood her great grandmother in matronly pride, showing off the newborn baby who would be Mavis’ grandmother in years to come, now born on the 19th of September, 1919. Mavis took the babe in her arms, feeling the warmth of family love surrounding her. One sister after another, then brothers as well came in to view the birth of a new generation.

All it took was a blink of the eye to find herself back in the year 2019, sitting on the floor of the attic watching the dust stir in beams of dull light from the window. The secret was her, within her. She felt her baby kick and she smiled, rubbing her belly. “Shhhh. I’ll tell you when time is ready. We are the secret ingredient. We ourselves. Isn’t it grand?”

“Are you still up there daydreaming?” Her grandmother called from down below. Of all the events of the year 1919, this one meant the most. It was time to cuddle the secret close and help it grow. There was love to be shared and made history down below.

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