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Janet Graber

Under the Stairs

When the air-raid sirens wailed my mother and I sheltered in the cubby-hole under the stairs. In a trunk stored there was a heavy black book with a soft leather cover. Mum said it smelled like frogs and snails and puppy dog tails because the book had belonged to my daddy when he was a little boy. I didn’t know how to read but I recognized it was a book of fairy tales because there was a black and white illustration at the beginning of each story. My favorite picture was of the big bad wolf with a pointy nose lying in bed with a granny’s mop cap jammed between his ears. While the bombs thudded and boomed my mum read to me. Very loudly. Using lots of funny voices to make me giggle. I followed the sounds of the words by tracing  the letters with my fingers. We had read all the way through the book from beginning to end by the time we didn’t have to go under the stairs anymore. Best of all, I could read Little Red Riding Hood all by myself by the time my daddy came home from the war.