It’s one thing inheriting a time machine but quite another learning how not to die in it!
Robert was a happy-go-lucky kid. He hated being called “Bob” or “Dick” so his parents call him “Robby”. You could also call him lanky. Beanpole legs and skinny torso lead up to the most alive green eyes you ever saw. He was always smiling and tossing his mop of straw away from his face.
He was an only child even though his parents tried for years afterwards to have more but none came. So, they doted on him. Affection was free. He got lavished with attention but not with worldly goods, they didn’t have the means. Anyway, parents believed that kicking a ball outside with the neighbor’s kids or rowing his 3rd hand little canoe on the Eastwood Lake was what a boy should be doing. And he was all the better for it. Fit. Thin. Grateful.
Rowing back from a day of fun and swimming off the tiny island in the center of the lake, he noticed a strange car pulling out of their driveway.
“Come and sit Robby” his mother patted the seat next to her and nodded as he walked in. “We have some important news”. He waited apprehensively. “My father has died. It was unexpected, and I wasn’t aware that he was sickly”. Unshed tears shone in her eyes but she managed to keep them in check.
He would never forget the day his grandfather died. First, he was shocked to hear he had a grandfather. Shocked he had died without getting to know him. And even more shocked to hear what mother had to say.
“Grandfather?” he asked.
“Don’t interrupt me” stern eyes said.
“My father and I didn’t see eye to eye. He didn’t approve of your father and so we didn’t have any contact. I tried several times over the years to revive the relationship, but he was stubborn”. She nervously picked her fingers.
“He’s left everything to you Robby. His entire fortune, his land with a substantial rose farm attached and his car collection”. Mother let this sink in a little. It was a huge responsibility at 16 and I didn’t know where to start. My confusion must have shown on my face as my father leaned over and squeezed my shoulder reassuringly.
2 weeks later we had packed up, dad left his dead-end job and we were on our way. My excitement was tinged with sadness that I had never met my grandfather. He was successful financially but lacked empathy towards his family. I felt like had missed out.
The homestead was magnificent. Well cared for and surrounded by fields of roses being tended to by friendly workers. On arrival they came to greet us, doffing their sun hats to show their respect. My mother knew the housekeeper and hugged her with tears in her eyes. Walking into the grand entrance hall I wondered where this adventure would take us.
From then on, every afternoon was an adventure. First, I explored the house from attic to the deepest, dankest corners of the basement. Treasures abounded, and I learned about my grandfather from boxes, books, journals and photographs. I loved it. And I grew to love him. He was an inventor first and foremost. Then an explorer, a naturalist, an archaeologist and an author.
Once I had conquered the house – I started on the other buildings on the property. The barn, stables and many little out building held more treasures. Then I came to his workshop. Hidden in a thicket – you could just see the little red turret on the north-east corner. Several tiles were missing, and the white walls were uneven and lined with little rivers of sand. Every now and then some moss or other hardy plant struggled out of a crack or hole in the walls. It was intriguing.
I had found the only locked door on the property and my determination to get in was limitless. My mind ran amok with what it could contain. Farming equipment most likely and rose seeds. But imagine if it held bicycles or even better – a motorbike. I eventually squeezed my way in through the coal chute trying to stay clean. It was more dusty than filled with coal anyway. The room was cavernous, and I could see right up into the roof beams. Dust fairies floated through the sunbeams which ran from the broken tiles and pooled on the floor. One flowed onto the only thing in the room. I felt disappointment. Why was the door locked and there is just about nothing in here? Sighing I wondered over the to the tarp covering a lump about the size of a small car, shoes crunching old leaves and dirt. I pulled the tarp off and was just as confused as I was when it was on.
It looked like a brightly coloured tractor with no wheels. A large, round blade stood behind the seat, intricate colours swirled into each other. “Some kind of wind machine” I said out loud. Intrigued I dusted off the seat and sat down. No steering wheel or handlebars were on the dash. Just a lever and some knobs with dates on. You could select the year, month, day and time. I wondered what it could be. It couldn’t move but then why the dates. Little did I know that I had found the greatest machine I would ever own.
My mother called me for dinner. I was reluctant to leave my discovery, but I knew it would be safe. It had stood there for years and now was mine to explore…
To be Continued….