I was lying in one of those pools that the tide, wind and water make, and it would have been pleasant except for the fact that I had been on a night flight to New Zealand to spend Christmas with my parents. It had been years since I’d been back for the holidays, and I was thrilled with my husband and children’s thoughtful gift.
I always thought that flying at night was smart scheduling. Who wanted to fly for thirteen hours in the daytime with hundreds of passengers running to restrooms, if like me they had one cup bladders and a three cup coffee habit? I chuckled, remembering how I had explained acid rain to the kids. I had pointed to white jet trails in the sky and had explained that all those peeing passengers made those trails.
I was out of my reminiscing mind! But now I was lying in a desert island pool. I could feel the burn of a Southern Hemisphere sun on my pale skin. I pulled up on my elbows and rolled out of the pool.
Boom! A coconut fell at my feet. But there were no palm trees. All I saw was a spandex blue sky, sand and sea. Boom! A fat dictionary fell from nowhere. Boom! Again something fell this time I caught it. It was a mask. If it had been a mask and a snorkel that would have made sense, but it was the ancient mask of Agamemnon. Its eyeholes gazed blankly at me out of a face of antique gold.
The dictionary was also old and worn. I laughed. It had been years since I had thumbed through a dictionary. These days I simply googled things on my trusty iPad. The dictionary seemed to demand to be opened so I did. Immediately it flopped wetly to the P's. The first word I saw was, 'Put'. But instead of a meaning beside it there were asterisks, exclamation marks and capital letters spelling; "PUT IT ON!"
Put on the coconut? I wondered groggily. Immediately the dictionary pages riffled as if in a wind to N. "NO DUMMY!" worded the dictionary. Riffling again, this time to T where it spelled, "THE MASK!"
A strange feeling of recklessness seized me and I plucked Agamemnon from the sand and placed it on my face. There was a gurgling sucking sound as the mask suctioned there. My face had become golden! "Great!" I thought. I had become Midas! I wondered if the dictionary would turn to gold if I touched it. So I did touch the old worn thing. The pages whirred as if in a high wind and landed on the page where GOLD was spelled. But again instead of its meaning I saw, "JUST MY FUNNY JOKE! GET IT? I TURNED TO GOLD." I heard a weird wheezy laughter coming from the book's spine. "Oh very witty," I scowled.
Christmas visit or no Christmas visit, I wanted to be far away from here. I missed my beautiful kids and I wanted to feel my husband's reassuring hug. No sooner had I thought this than the pages riffled to COCONUT and beside this incongruous word, "HOLD ON TO THE COCONUT!"
I felt like I was being flung high into the air, jerked by an unseen hook on my collar. I remembered taking my daughter bungee jumping. That would have prepared me for this sensation, but I had refused to bungee on that occasion. I had told her weakly, "They write your weight in black marker on your arm for all to see. And I’d have to be honest about it. What if I went 'splat' because I insisted I’m 120 pounds when 155 is closer to the mark?"
I landed unsteadily. In front of me was a little brown-eyed boy staring at me. He was painfully thin and squatted barefoot with his little arms stretched out to receive the coconut. I gave it to him, and he accepted it gravely.
The dictionary flopped open to WISH....He had wished for a coconut, it spelled. I recognized the little boy's face. He had been featured on the cover of the in-flight magazine I had been reading before I landed here.
"Am I dreaming?" I whispered.
"Yes, in part," it replied after whirling to the Ys.
"Ah," it said riffling quickly to the As. “Agamemnon's mask on you makes the wishes come true.”
"Because," the book replied, "You wished that you could help that little boy."
"Is this real or happening in my imagination?"
"Just because you imagine something does not make it unreal," explained the old volume.
"And the coconut?"
"Ah!" The book seemed to nod. "The coconut was always just a coconut."
Writer Jenny Harp is a New Zealander grandmother who lives in the United States with her husband and loves God, life and family.
CRUMBS BY JENNY HARP