This is the final episode of Uncle Theo so now I have to decide on another story that deserves to be exposed to the light.
As I have mentioned, Uncle Theo is one of the many stories I wrote between the 1960s and 1980s. I believe this one was written in the 1980s. I only wish I had dated them at the time but I didn’t. Fiction, and possibly science fiction/fantasy allows a tremendous freedom as anything is possible!
My hope is that once I have all or most of these dozens of stories out in the universe, I can write more stories from a different viewpoint three or more decades later.
Although many of my stories are written in the first person, all characters and events are entirely fictional.
Uncle Theo – Part Three – © copyright Roslyn M Wilkins
There were a number of years between childhood and adulthood when I refuted all magic and miracles. I embraced reality and was busy studying the nervous systems of frogs and wrestling with algebra while dealing with the assassinations of world leaders and desperately trying to figure out how I could fit into a world I did not fit into. I discovered that the transition from child to adult was a difficult and serious business that I was not cut out for.
During my eighteenth year, when high school was over and university not yet begun, I rediscovered Ray Bradbury. His stories brought back memories of Uncle Theo and I believed in him for one more summer.
But that summer passed and Ray Bradbury was buried once again along with Uncle Theo under an onslaught of exams, papers and seminars in my first year of university. I had enough to cope with in the real world without struggling with a fantastical one as well.
As the years went by I did think of Uncle Theo once in a while, but mostly as a pathetic old man with a wild imagination. And then, as that long-ago summer became more and more distant and my childhood seemed to belong to some other person entirely, Uncle Theo ceased to exist for me.
I was caught up in the nightmare of learning how to be a grownup. I couldn’t seem to get a handle on it no matter how hard I tried. All my friends managed it so easily. They knew what they wanted out of life—a career, marriage, security—and they went out and got it. I had the same opportunities they did, but somehow was unable to take advantage of them. I was still floundering around trying to find myself while all my contemporaries were busy raising families and running corporations.
I went through periods of deep despair when I wondered if it was worth continuing on with my life. But I did continue. I had no way of knowing, of course, that Uncle Theo would not have allowed it any other way.
So alienated was I from that summer that when my mother’s letter arrived, it took me a few seconds to figure out who she was referring to. Uncle Theo, she wrote, had passed away some weeks before in an old folks’ home in the north of England. She said she had lost track of him many years ago, and if she had known where he was she would have at least made an attempt to visit him before he passed. But she guessed he had been too proud to let on about his circumstances. Anyway, he had given my mother’s name as his closest relative, and the director of the home had contacted her asking about the disposition of the body. My mother had opted for cremation.
Folded up in the letter was a small envelope with “Little Bunny” written in a shaky hand. My mother said this had arrived with Uncle Theo’s personal belongings. She apologized for taking so long to write, but this whole business of Uncle Theo dying had really taken up a lot of her time and she certainly had never dreamed that she would be the one left to deal with it all.
I opened the envelope. It contained a single piece of white paper. On it was written: “In this World is all of Me/Let the Magic set you Free!”
I recalled the glass sphere Uncle Theo had given me that summer. Where was it now? I vaguely remembered stashing it in the back of my storage room. I had intended to leave it behind when I left for California but when I was unpacking, there it was wrapped up in old newspaper just the way Uncle Theo had presented it to me all those years ago.
I wrestled three boxes to the floor from the top shelf. The first contained a family photograph album my mother had insisted I take with me to my new home plus a sheaf of sloppily typed, sentimental poems I had written in better times when I had still had some hope for my life.
The second box was where my childhood teddy bear lived. His arms and legs were attached to his body solely by the auspices of a tattered knitted suit I had made for him many years ago. And there, in the third box nestled between a pair of brass candlesticks, so ugly they had never seen the light of day, was a ball of newspaper. I was disappointed to discover I must have re-wrapped it because the paper wasn’t printed in Drataurean characters, or even Arabic, but in ordinary English, extolling the events of Derring-on-Sea in the month of April when I had left my home country and my parents for an adventure in the New World. I had a university degree in one hand and a marriage certificate in the other. As I discovered, neither piece of paper turned out to be of much use. Nor did the second degree, or the second marriage certificate.
I unwrapped the sphere and read the poem it had harbored all these years. Uncle Theo had promised I would understand its meaning when the time was right. I wondered if his death meant that time had come.
I carried the globe into the living room as carefully as if it was an injured bird. And like a bird, it seemed to take wing when it caught the glare of the California sun burning through the glass sliding doors. The strange shapes and other-worldly colors I remembered from some other lifetime, wakened at last from their dark slumber, flitted over the stark white walls of my apartment.
I sensed his presence in the room even before I saw him. Uncle Theo stood no more than five feet away from me in his red and white striped polo shirt. He was young and robust, his orange moustache thicker than ever. The green flash of his eyes seared into mine and emblazoned my brain with images of silver birds, golden forests and luminescent seas. My feet left the floor and my body was lighter than the air. I was transported to another galaxy where color was substance and light was form. I soared above the highest mountains of what I knew was Drataur, feeling colors, hearing emotions and seeing sounds.
Uncle Theo was flying beside me.
“I Knew I could Count on You to be Here,” he said. I was thrilled to hear the capital letters again. “You must Carry on for me Now, Little Bunny.”
I was beginning to understand. “All those years in the nursing home…”
“I needed a Safe Place to leave my Body while My Substance Traveled. There are Planets and Galaxies out there with such Beauty you could never Dream of!” he exclaimed as he spiraled downwards, executed a double somersault and flew back up on my other side.
“Isn’t this Fun? You Try it!”
“Oh no, this is the first time I’ve ever flown,” I exclaimed. Just looking down was making me dizzy.
“Well, you have Plenty of Time to get used to it. Light Years and Light Years of it.”
“But why me, Uncle Theo?”
“Didn’t I teach you anything that summer?”
“Apparently not. My whole life’s been a failure. Nothing ever worked out for me. I don’t know how to carry on for you.”
“But that’s exactly the Point, Little Bunny!” He reached out for my hand. “Let’s Float Down and Sit for a While.”
Next thing I knew we were back in my living room, he on the sofa and me on my rocking chair.
“Nothing ever Worked out for you Because you are Special. Not like your Friends. They are Ordinary—They don’t have the Gift.”
“The gift? You mean the globe you gave me?”
“Not Exactly, but in a Way. The Globe is only a Symbol of what I Gave you—of what you’ve Had all Along really.” He walked over to the table where I had left the sphere. He picked it up and ran his fingers over the surface. “You tried to be like Everybody Else but that wasn’t the Plan. You were going about Life in all the Wrong Ways. You always dealt with Life in a Rational, Logical Manner. But Imagine what would have Happened if you had Allowed Magic to Play its Hand…” The globe was a bright green sun, so bright I couldn’t look at it. It filled the room with its greenness. “…if you had Wished Upon a Star or Thrown a Coin in the Fountain or even Rubbed an Olde Lamp once in a while…”
“You’re making fun of me now, aren’t you? You’re being a little childish!”
“I hope so! Being Childish—or a better word would be Childlike—is what it’s all About. Being Open to the Wonder—thinking of the Future like a Five-Year-Old where Everything is Possible.” He put the globe down. The bright yellow light calmed to a pale, shimmering cream color.
I was upset. My life had been such a struggle. “Why didn’t you tell me all this before and save me all the grief?”
“I tried to. That Summer Night, sitting on the Park Bench, I asked you not to Forget how to be a Child, not to Forget the Magic.”
“I didn’t understand what you meant then. I was only ten.” No, the truth. “I didn’t really believe in you.”
“There were things you had to Discover for yourself, Little Bunny, through the Pain of Living.”
“That’s not very fair. I hurt a lot.”
“You think I didn’t Know? You think there weren’t Times when I wanted to Step in and Rescue you? But I couldn’t. It doesn’t Work that Way. I had to go through the Same Things myself. Oh yes. I went through the First Part of My Life bumping into Walls and falling through Trap Doors, just like YOU!”
The sun in the California sky was waning. My white walls were turning grey. But I didn’t want any artificial light invading our space.
“I was Presented with the Gift and Introduced to Drataur. I wasn’t Born there, Nobody is, you have to be Invited. But now it’s Time for me to Leave Drataur and Join the Others as one more Voice in the Hum of the Universe. And so I Pass the Mysteries of Drataur on to you. And when your Time comes to Pass the Magic on to Another, when you have learned all there is to Learn of the Chanting Birds of Saltir and the Quizzical Dailils of Grxxl 3 and the Wafting Grasses of the Tiger Moons and so much More, your Voice, too, will Join the Choir of the Cosmos and you will be Free. But for now…”
Uncle Theo’s arm had transformed into a silken wing. It was translucent and fragile-looking, but when he touched my arm I could feel the power seething within the membranes. It was pouring out of him and into me. I felt his strength and his energy. And at that moment I knew I could indeed continue.
We were once again flying through the atmosphere of Drataur. But with his newly formed wings, Uncle Theo was too fast for me and I lost sight of him. Then a purple cloud drifted by and temporarily blocked the light from the Twin Suns. There was no goodbye. He was gone.
I was back in my apartment. It was dark outside. The sounds of the traffic hurtling by on the freeway just a quarter mile away pounded on the night air like surf at the beach.
I sat with the sphere cradled in my hands. This was to be my memory of Uncle Theo. His world was contained within it. I rocked back and forth, back and forth, staring into the globe as the glimmer of green within grew stronger. And I knew it was up to me now to find my own Magic.