The Desk is a special story to the Mirror by Michael C. Jordan
To the right of the large picture window sits a child’s roll-top desk. Raising the slatted wooden roll-top reveals the flat writing surface. It is decorated by the scratches and dents, names and initials of the children who have occupied its chair. These errant hieroglyphics are testimony to its sixty years of faithful service and bring character and beauty to the light oak wood.
On the front right side below the flat writing surface, two drawers sit one atop the other, and currently contain the treasures of an eight-year-old boy named Matthew. Above the top drawer in a slot rests a board that can be extended and used as an extra work surface or removed completely. The board, once removed, can be used as a portable writing surface, food tray, or for any other important function a child may desire. My favorite use of the board was as a base for the traditional multi-colored wooden building blocks I loved to play with as a child.
To the left of the drawers and beneath the writing surface is an open space which allows a small person to sit comfortably in the matching chair. The chair is of the old swivel type, all hard wood except for the swivel which is actually a large screw. When the chair is twisted, the seat and back portion of the chair can be raised or lowered by as much as eight inches. Sitting and spinning during this process is fun and has delighted every child who has tried it.
The seat of the chair is a plain flat piece of wood that bears many of the same decorations found on the larger writing surface above. The back of the chair is constructed of three vertical wooden dowels, framed by square pieces of wood, and is perfectly suited for various uses: a banker’s window while playing a game of Monopoly, a postal window during the occasional game of post office, or the window of a jail cell by a villain in the imagined Old West.
Within and just below the exposed top portion of the open roll-top are six pigeonholes. These are the special places found in all roll-top desks, whether they are child sized or full sized. Roll-top desks always contain a hidden compartment too. They are usually connected in some way to the pigeonholes. These hidden compartments can be hard to find, and some are harder to find than others; I am sure this desk has one and is not the exception. Although I looked long and hard, I never found it.
I was encouraged to pass the desk, as well as the responsibility of finding its secret, on to my little brother Joseph. Regrettably, I had grown too large to fit into the desk, and he had grown just large enough to fit it. So, I reluctantly abdicated my birthright, as firstborn boy child, and surrendered the desk to him. The mixed emotions I suffered were almost unbearable. Give up the desk without first solving its secret? No!… Yet, by passing it on, could I not become the confidant of the one who discovers that hidden place? I had hope because I secretly suspected my younger brother of being smarter than I. Could he find the place I had so desperately tried to discover? Maybe?… Well, he never found it. I know he looked for it because I watched him. The only satisfaction I gained when he did not find it was my realization that he was no smarter than I.
After his failure to find the compartment, a little girl child came to try her hand at solving the mystery, Kristen, the first-born daughter of my sister Deborah. Could she solve the mystery? Was this the answer? Could the feminine approach, the patient, indirect, less brutal investigation bear fruit?… Yes, she would find it and she would certainly share her discovery with the original crusader. Wouldn’t she?… No, she would not find it, nor would her two younger sisters who followed in her quest to unravel the mystery.
The years passed. The desk returned to me; its secret intact. It sat in a corner of my living room smug in its impregnability. I had the desk refinished in an attempt to end the search once and for all. It was reduced to individual pieces of lumber, but still it did not yield its secret.
My last hope of learning the secret lies with a girl named Holly, and a boy named Matthew; my children. I’m sure one or both of them will find it. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will be discovered. I am confident because, as everyone knows, they are smarter than I and my little brother.
Author’s Note: My son, Matthew, was overwhelmed by deep emotion after reading The Desk. His eight-year-old eyes filled with tears as he accepted the great responsibility placed upon him. While assuring me of his determination to succeed, I first saw within him the wonderful man he has become. It was the greatest feeling of pride I have ever known.