Theodore, a red-haired nine year-old, cut across the playground before the start of school, stepping in front of me and tugging on my tie to pull me close for a whisper: “Did you see it?” See what? “The note that Jake and me put in your mailbox yesterday. Did you read it?”
Theodore blinked as I said no, I had not read the note. Even as I confessed as much to this particular red head, the other one popped out from inside the building to say: “He hasn’t read it yet. It’s still in his mailbox.”
“Wait a minute, boys. Would you both mind backing up a little bit? Let me get in the door first and I will read it.”
“OK. Don’t forget” one said as they both dashed away.
Once in the office, I pulled a stack from my mailbox to find a smudged half sheet upon which sat a penciled sentence. I read it out loud: Meet me and Jake on the playground at 10:20 – before recess. My secretary stopped typing, and looked at me winking: “A mystery?”
So it seemed.
At 10:20, I stepped onto the lower yard. Fog touched down on the asphalt. Calm reigned. Perhaps the meeting might not occur? But then, two familiar voices pierced the peace.
“Principal, come on!”
“Guys, now tell me where we’re going?”
“The auditorium! We found it!”
“You found what?”
They tugged me by the coat sleeve, talking as we walked, tag-teaming me with essential facts. Theodore had discovered the key first. He then told Jake and only Jake. Now, I was third in line to receive access to the knowledge.
They led me up the back steps to the stage. “Behind here.” said Jake as he pulled back an old, maybe ancient, blue velvet curtain. There, I saw for the first time, an obsolete phone screwed to the wall. Half an inch of dusk sat like a hat atop this plastic artifact.
“Pick it up!” one boy barked. I did, but I handed it to Theodore who put it up to his ear.
“That thing’s gross. Do you hear something?”
He said nothing, so I took the phone and placed it against my ear. I, too, heard nothing. I handed the phone to Jake, he listened into it for a moment, and then hung it up. They looked at me with truth in their eyes and asked, “What do we do now?”
No laughing matter. They knew the ways boys can that they had found a portal. It had become my job to advise them on how to get it to work. I had no desire to crush dreams. I thought fast and spoke:
“Gentlemen, if you have found real a portal here, they don’t just stay on all the time. You have to find out when it works.” Both heads nodded. “When you figure that out, we can come back. All of us will have to be ready. We need to get this right.”
Juicy stuff hides in mysteries like these. I watched the boys walk back to the playground, leaning close to one another, whispering. Prospects and possibilities wove spells within them. I knew that kindred medicines like these can make a strong mix, carving openings like a wizard’s knife. Only a matter of time before that same knife would cut through to dreaming’s other side – a realm where sparkling keys dangle in mid air. I counted myself lucky to be along for the ride this time through!