The Book On The Top Shelf
Galen misses his mom, and longs to reach a book on the top shelf of the book case.
Every morning before going to school, Galen would stand in front of their bookshelf in the living room. He would focus his sights on one book. The book was titled “The Greatest Explorer that never was”. It was kept on the top shelf. His mom would always read it to him when he was feeling sad. And lately, he’d always been feeling sad. He would stare at it and try to think of a way to get to the top of the shelf and retrieve the book. He’d thought about asking his dad for help but his dad had been spending more time in his office. He was on his own for this one and he was okay with that. He saw it as a challenge he needed to overcome. This was his test.
At school, he would draw up plans on how he would do it. First, he planned on using the ladder they had at home. It was kept in their shed. He was sure that this plan would work. So when he got home, he executed the plan.
He threw his bag on the couch in the living room and ran to the shed. There, he found their ladder. The success of his plan hinged on that ladder. He had his hands on the ladder and tried to carry it. Immediately, he realized that the plan was a failure. The ladder was too heavy for him to carry from the shed to the living room. This wouldn’t do. So, he left the shed defeated and went back to his room. He took out the notebook that he’d written his plans on. He crossed out using a ladder. He went to bed that night determined to come up with a new plan that would work.
His next plan was to use his mom’s old trampoline. Using it would allow him to jump high enough, reach the top of the shelf, grab the book, and land on the ground. He dragged the trampoline in front of their shelf. He looked up at the ceiling then at the trampoline and then back at the ceiling again. He did this about four or five times before deciding that this plan, like the one before, wouldn’t work. He was worried that he would jump too high and go through their ceiling. It was back to the drawing board again.
Galen started coming with other plans as the days went on. Some of his plans were stacking up chairs to use as a make-shift ladder, making a grappling hook to pull the book out, and taping the ends of a mop and a broom and use it to nudge the book out of the shelf. But these plans didn’t seem to work. After the unsuccessful mop and broom plan, he stayed up late that night making a new plan. He eventually hatched a new plan for the next day. He felt good about this plan. He had a feeling in his gut that it would work.
Galen decided to execute his new plan early in the morning. It was Saturday so he had all the time in the world. His new plan, which had a higher success rate than the others, was to scale the shelf until he got to the top where he could just take the book. He didn’t think scaling the shelf would be hard. He’d just have to hold on to the sides a little tighter so that he wouldn’t fall off. When he got the book, scaling down would be a challenge. So, he decided that he would just jump. He just needed a soft landing spot. He ran to the guest bedroom and took out the mattress. He ran up to his room and got his mattress as well, just to be sure. He placed it in front of the shelf. Finally, he was ready. He took a deep breath and began scaling the bookshelf. It wasn’t the easy climb he expected. It was hard holding on to the edges with his hands and the tip of his toes. Both his hands and toes began to hurt. He was about to let go which signaled the end of the plan. He closed his eyes as he slowly began to let go. Before he could let go, someone grabbed him and raised him up. He felt his body moving upwards. He opened his eyes and was now face to face with the book he so desperately wanted. He grabbed the book and held on to it tight. He crossed his arms and pinned the book on his chest. He was then slowly brought back down to the ground.
Curious to see who his ally that helped him overcome his challenge was, Galen turned around. He was surprised to see that it was his dad. He stood there silent. His dad ruffled his hair and then made his way to his office. He followed his dad to his office. His dad’s office was a room across the kitchen.
Galen stood by the door. His dad hadn’t closed it all the way so there was a slight opening. He’d never been to his dad’s office before. He never really felt close to his dad. He always remembered him spending time in his office while his mom would spend time with him. But now, his mom was gone.
Part of him knew that his dad was sad. He knew this because he was sad too. Sometimes, he would cry in bed because he missed his mom so much. He knew that his dad missed her too.
He held on to the book tighter, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. Before his dad could say anything, he let himself in. His dad was sitting on a chair by his desk. He just stood there silent. His dad smiled at him but his eyes looked sad. His dad held out his hand. He walked closer to his dad and handed the book over to him.
His dad looked at the book’s cover. The letters of the title were shiny. Below the title was the author’s name. It was his mother’s name. Tears ran down his dad’s eyes. His dad quickly wiped his tears with his shirtsleeve and set the book down on the table. His dad picked him up and sat him on the chair next to his. He took the book, gave Galen a smile, and began reading it out loud.
As his dad was reading the story, Galen had this feeling that his mom was there, listening to the story with them. He couldn’t help but smile. Deep in his heart, he knew that his mom would always be with them.
© Glenn Francis F. Faelnar 2020
Illustrations purchased under license.
Love, Family, Loneliness
1. Have you ever missed someone very much? How did it feel?
2. Why do you think we can sometimes miss people?
3. In this story, Galen feels like his Mom is there when he reads the book she wrote, and that they used to read together. Why do you think he feels like this?