Photograph by Kamira/Shutterstock
By Jay Sumner
(Thank you for voting in our online polls and deciding where the story would go next! The end of the story has been added. Read it here or you can print out a copy and add your own illustrations.)
Daniel considered himself an average 10-year-old boy. He liked to do things most 10-year-olds do. During the week, he went to school. At night he did homework. On weekends, he played fetch with his dog, Crosby. When Daniel’s mom would let him, he loved to play video games…but lately he preferred hanging out with his buddies at the arcade. There he could win actual prizes!
Daniel and his friends like to challenge each other to Skee Ball, and he pretty much always got the top score. But his new favorite was the claw machine. He knew it was kind of a rip off, but he couldn’t help the temptation of taking home a cool model truck he had his eye on.
“Today’s the day!” Daniel said to his buddies as they entered the arcade. “Today I’m going to beat the claw!”
Daniel put in his quarter and went to work. He moved the claw up and down, up and down. Nothing. He tried again. Up and down, up and down. “Rats!” he said aloud. It was as if the truck was magnetically repelling the claw. Ever defiant in his pursuit, he tried again. The claw kept veering to the side, straight toward a pair of funny-looking glasses.
“I don’t want those cheap old things,” Daniel muttered. “I need that truck!”
Ten quarters later, Daniel was ready to give up, but decided to try one last time. He concentrated all of his strength to get the claw in the perfect position. This time, it caught hold of something.
“The truck!” he exclaimed, as he gently nudged the claw toward the trap. “Victory!”
PLUNK! The truck dropped from the machine. Trembling with excitement, Daniel reached his hand in and grabbed hold.
“Wait a second,” he muttered. “This doesn’t feel like a truck,” he said as he pulled the oddly-shaped object out of the trap. Daniel stared down at his prize. “What’s with these glasses?” he said as he lifted them up to get a closer look.
Daniel was befuddled. He could have sworn he’d seen the truck fall into the trap. Now he was out a few bucks, and he didn’t even have anything cool to take home. Feeling more annoyed than curious, the boy tossed the glasses in the trash, grabbed his backpack, and left the arcade.
Back at home, Daniel decided to play his favorite computer game to cheer himself up before dinner. As he logged on to Animal Jam, there was a scratch at the door. Daniel knew it was Crosby. He let the dog in, gave him a pat, and went back to playing in the virtual world.
Usually Crosby would stand by while Daniel played, with his head in the boy’s lap. But today, something else caught the dog’s attention. Crosby wandered over and nosed into Daniel’s backpack. He sniffed around and rooted for something inside. Daniel was too into his game to notice.
A minute later, Crosby was back at Daniel’s side. He dropped a slobbery, wet object into the boy’s lap. Daniel looked down and couldn’t believe his eyes.
“The glasses!” Daniel exclaimed. “But how…?” he began to wonder aloud. He KNEW he had thrown these in the trash at the arcade. “It’s not possible!” he insisted.
Crosby looked up at his confused owner with droopy dog eyes. He nudged the boy’s hand as if to say just give it a try. He whined and yelped until Daniel relented.
“Fine, Crosby. I’ll try them on,” the boy said. “But no laughing when they look goofy.”
Daniel lifted the glasses up to the bridge of his nose, and settled them into place. Suddenly the room began to swirl around him. Daniel jumped to his feet, only to fall hard on a flat surface. Dazed and disoriented, Daniel looked up…
“Daniel…are you okay?” Daniel heard a muffled voice say.
“I…I think so,” he replied through a fog of confusion. “I don’t know what happened,” he said as he pulled himself up off the ground. “I put on these glasses and the next thing I knew…” Daniel said and looked around the room to figure out who was talking to him.
“Hello?” Daniel asked. “Who’s there?” He scanned his surroundings but saw no one.
“It’s me, Daniel,” replied the voice.
Daniel looked around, and then down.
“No, it couldn’t be,” he began.
“I know it seems unbelievable, but it’s true,” replied the voice.
It was Crosby, Daniel’s pet dog.
“But, but…you’re a dog!” Daniel stammered. “You can’t talk!”
“I’m not talking,” replied Crosby. “You can just hear my thoughts.”
“Wait. Really?” Daniel asked, as the realization that he wasn’t dreaming finally hit him. “You mean, I can really hear you? I’m not just imagining this?”
“Nope, I’ll bite you if it will prove that you’re 100% awake,” Crosby joked.
“No thanks, I’ll pass!” replied Daniel. “But how did this happen?” he asked. Just then he realized something was obstructing his view. Daniel pulled the glasses off to focus on his furry friend.
“Do you know, Crosby?”
Daniel looked down but his pup just wagged his tail.
“Crosby?” Daniel asked again. The silent pup jumped up and licked Daniel’s face.
Wait a second, Daniel thought. He put the glasses back on.
“I said it’s the glasses!” Crosby exclaimed aloud.
“The glasses?” Daniel asked. “The glasses are the reason I can hear you?”
“Now you’re catching on,” Crosby said. “But there’s no time to waste. We have a lot of catching up to do. Follow me!” said the dog as he took off out the door.
“Wait!” Daniel yelled. “Wait for me!”
Daniel chased Crosby down the stairs, out the door, and down the street. As he jogged along the empty neighborhood road, he began to think. What are these glasses? Are they magic? Daniel suddenly stopped short. The neighbor’s cat Tippy had gotten out again. She was crawling out of the garage and headed toward the street.
“Hold up, Crosby,” Daniel called out. “I have to bring Tippy back to the Nelsons’ house.” Daniel scooped up the black and white tabby. As he carried the cat to the front door, he realized something. He didn’t hear a thing. So he couldn’t hear just any old animal.
Why only Crosby? Why can I only hear my dog’s thoughts?
In all the chaos and confusion, Daniel had completely forgotten about that fact that he was now wearing these goofy glasses in public. He rang the doorbell.
“Hi, Mrs. Nelson! Tippy got out again. I just wanted to bring her back,” he said as he handed the cat back to her owner.
“Thank you, Daniel,” she replied. “My, those are festive glasses you’re wearing.”
“Thanks Mrs. Nelson,” Daniel said, slightly embarrassed.
Daniel turned around and hurried down the sidewalk back to Crosby. He didn’t care if he looked silly. His new power was worth it.
Daniel followed Crosby for what felt like an eternity.
“Crosbbyyy, where are we going?” Daniel asked as his frustration grew.
“You’ll see,” the pup replied.
As Daniel continued to follow his trotting dog, he suddenly realized they were taking a familiar path. “Cros, I don’t know about this.”
“Come on, Daniel. It’s been too long. We need to go,” Crosby replied.
Hesitantly, Daniel followed until a clearing through the woods led them straight to the water’s edge. It was the old fishing pond, where Daniel had spent countless hours as a child.
“Shall we?” Crosby asked.
“Might as well,” responded Daniel, and they took off, racing down the water’s edge, up past the twisted oak tree, and finally to a rickety old tree house Daniel had constructed with his grandfather several years before.
As they reached the tree house, Daniel tripped, sailed through the air and landed with a THUD! He panicked as he realized the glasses were no longer on his face. He didn’t see the glasses anywhere! He felt around in the long grass, and grasped an object. Rats! He thought. It wasn’t the glasses.
Just then, Crosby came trotting over with the glasses gripped between his teeth. Daniel pulled them out of his mouth and thanked the pup for his help. Sliding them back on to his face, he finally began to focus on the object he now held in his hand.
“Oh my gosh, Cros! I don’t believe it!” Daniel held out his hand to show his pal a….
Daniel held out his hand to show his pal the shiny object in his hand. "These are the keys Poppa lost the last time we went fishing together! I can’t believe they’ve been here in the grass the whole time."
"Well, we haven’t been here since then," Crosby said.
Daniel’s grandfather had passed away two years before. Since then, Daniel had recurring dreams where he and Poppa would spend lazy afternoons on the boat, waiting for something to bite. Each dream was exactly the same, Poppa was sad because he couldn’t find his "lucky" reel—a beat up antique reel that had been passed down from his own grandfather. He almost never went anywhere without it.
"Come on Daniel, let’s check out the tree house!" Crosby said as he climbed the stairs Daniel and Poppa had built specially for him.
Up in the treetops, Daniel couldn’t believe his eyes. "It’s exactly the same. It’s almost like we were here yesterday!"
"Well pal, we haven’t been back since Poppa died," Crosby said.
"I can’t believe it’s been that long," replied Daniel. The place was filled with old pictures of Daniel and Poppa, even Crosby as a pup. A flashlight and blanket sat on the table from the last time they snuck up to the tree house to tell scary stories.
"I sure do miss him, Cros," Daniel said sadly.
Daniel was lost down memory lane when he suddenly remembered the keys he had in his hand. He examined them one by one and discovered a tiny key he had never seen before.
"Crosby, what do you suppose this goes to?" Daniel asked.
"I don’t know, but let’s found out," the dog said wagging his tail.
"Good idea!" replied Daniel. "But where do we start?"
"Only one place…" Crosby answered.
"Gram’s house!" the pair said in unison.
"Uh oh, it’s getting dark out, Cros. Better head home for now. We can start at Gram’s tomorrow," Daniel said.
Bright and early the next day Daniel awoke with a start. He looked over at his pal Crosby sleeping on the floor.
What a crazy dream he thought to himself. Only then did he look over to see the glasses sitting on his nightstand.
Phew! He thought, a little bit relieved. It wasn’t a dream!
"Ready Daniel?" Crosby asked.
Daniel looked up to see his dog waiting by the door.
"Sure, let’s go!" Daniel as he hopped out of bed, threw on some shoes, and chased Crosby down the stairs.
Gram answered the door in her fuzzy pink bathrobe. "What a nice surprise! To what do I owe this visit from my favorite grandson?" Gram asked.
"Woof!" the dog barked loudly.
"And hi to you too, Crosby." responded Gram.
Gram’s intuition told her that the dog was saying ‘hello,’ but Daniel knew since he heard the word himself.
"It’s always good see you Gram! " said Daniel hurriedly. "But I am on a bit of a mission."
"Well, come on in, honey, and tell me. Does it have something to do with those glasses?" Gram asked.
"Oh, ah, not really, they were just a prize from the arcade." Daniel said reluctantly placing the glasses atop his head.
"Don’t take them off on my account, I think they’re pretty spiffy," Gram said. "Now, tell me what I can do for you, Daniel, but keep in mind, we don’t have too much time."
"What? Why’s that?" Daniel asked.
"Did you forget?" asked Gram. "We’ve got that family portrait set for this afternoon. I think the photographer’s coming in about three hours."
"Aw, man! I completely forgot," Daniel said. "But this won’t take that long Gram. Crosby and I went to the pond yesterday and we found Poppa’s keys," he said, showing them to her. "But there’s one that I don’t’ remember. Do you know what this key goes to?" Daniel asked as he held the key up for Gram’s inspection.
"Indeed I do," said Gram, "it goes to the safe."
"The safe? I didn’t know you had a safe." Daniel replied. "Where is it?"
"It’s behind the painting above the desk in Poppa’s office. Would you like to see it?" Gram asked.
"Wow! Yeah, that would be cool!" Daniel exclaimed. Crosby wagged his tail in agreement.
Daniel followed Gram up the stairs and into Poppa’s office. She directed him to move a painting aside. Behind it was an old metal safe embedded into the wall.
Daniel didn’t waste any time. He took the tiny key and jabbed it into the lock. It’s a bit rusted, he thought to himself. Suddenly with a soft "pop" the door fell open.
Daniel peered inside.
Wow, he thought. This must have belonged to Poppa.
"What’d you find, Daniel?" Gram asked.
Daniel plucked the object out of the safe and into plain sight. In his hands he held a…
Daniel plucked an envelope out of the safe and held it up for Gram to see.
“Look Gram, it’s a note from Poppa! And it’s for me!” he exclaimed as he examined the aged paper he held in his hand. Daniel lifted the corner and carefully began to unfold his treasure. But as he spread the paper flat against the wall, confusion set in.
“It looks like it’s written in some sort of secret code,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“May I see it?” Gram asked.
“Of course!” replied Daniel. “I sure could use the help.”
Gram held her glasses up in front of her face. She read aloud:
For safe keeping
1245 Walker Street
“Well, you’re darn right, Daniel. This is confusing,” Gram said. “But I know I can solve at least one part for you. This part right here…” she said, pointing to 1245 Walker St. “That’s my bank!”
“Great! And I can solve another part,” said Daniel. “I’ve heard the phrase ‘tightlines’ before. Poppa used to say it. It’s what fishermen say to each other. It’s kind of like…good luck. Because if your line is tight, you’ve hooked a fish!”
“Very good, Daniel!” Gram said. “Come to think of it, your Poppa used to say that phrase quite a bit.”
“But what do you think ‘for safe keeping’ means, Gram?” Daniel asked. “That’s the part where I’m stumped.”
“Well, I have a hunch we’re going to find something very special, very important to Poppa,” Gram replied. “Let’s head down to the bank and check it out!”
As Daniel started for the door, he turned to face Gram. “It’s a good thing I found that key, huh?” Daniel said. “Otherwise we would have never been able to open the safe!”
“Actually your Poppa had another key, dear,” Gram responded. “I keep it on top of the mantle. It just never occurred to me to open that safe after he was gone,” she said sadly.
The bank was just opening for business as Daniel, Gram, and Crosby pulled up in Gram’s old station wagon. Daniel and Gram hopped out.
“Woof!” Daniel heard a sharp bark coming from the back of the car. Just then he realized that his glasses were still sitting on top of his head. “So that’s why I haven’t heard from you in a while…” Daniel jokingly said to his pup. “Gram, do you think they’ll let Crosby come into the bank with us?” he asked.
“Wouldn’t hurt to try,” said Gram.
Daniel pushed through the glass doors to find the bank almost empty. Ms. Tabor, the bank official, eyed Crosby with a disapproving look, before saying, “Oh alright. I guess there’s no one around to object.”
Happily, Crosby trotted behind Gram as she approached the counter.
“We’d like to get into our safety deposit box please. Number 315,” Gram said.
“May I have the password please?” Ms. Tabor asked.
“Tightlines!” Gram and Daniel said together.
“This way,” Ms. Tabor responded, opening the door for Gram, Daniel, and Crosby to step behind the counter. She guided them down a narrow hallway lined with metal boxes with tiny numbers. Finally they arrived at 315. “I’ll be out front if you need me,” Ms. Tabor said as she made her way back through the door in which they came.
“Daniel, I’m going to need your help on this one,” Gram said. “The three numbers here on Poppa’s note are the combination to the lock. Can you please open it?”
“Sure…” Daniel said, beginning to get nervous with anticipation. His fingers were shaky, but he was careful turning the dial. He wanted to make sure he got it right on the first try. “30…..17…..” he said aloud as he twisted the knob. “9” CLICK! The lock popped open.
Daniel carefully opened the box. Inside there was something wrapped in a soft cloth. It was a round object that felt familiar in Daniel’s hand. He picked it up and slowly unwrapped it. When he realized what he was holding a flurry of emotion rushed over him.
“Oh my gosh, Gram! It’s poppa’s ‘lucky’ reel!” Daniel exclaimed excitedly. Crosby let out a happy bark.
“Hush, Crosby!” Gram said sharply. “You’ll get us kicked out!” Gram turned back to Daniel. “I think he meant for you to have it,” she explained. “Aside from you and me, that reel was the most precious thing in his life,” Gram said with tears in her eyes.
Daniel cradled the object and pressed it against his chest. He didn’t know why, but something just didn’t feel right. Looking at Crosby, Daniel knew his dog felt it too. “Oh dear!” Gram exclaimed. “Look at the time! We need to go home and change for the family portrait!”
Later that day, the family gathered in the living room to have their picture taken. The photographer directed them to take their places, with Gram in the center and Crosby seated by the arm of the couch next to Daniel.
“1, 2, 3, say cheese!” The photographer instructed.
With one quick flash, the picture was done. Then another. And another. Finally, when the photographer seemed happy with the bunch, he printed out proofs on the spot so Daniel’s mom and dad could select their favorite.
That night Daniel was sitting on the couch thumbing through the photos. Crosby walked over and dropped the glasses in Daniel’s lap.
“Oh wow, sorry buddy,” Daniel said as he put the glasses on. “I just realized I haven’t talked to you all day!”
“Oh, no big deal,” Crosby replied. “I just thought they might come in handy when you’re looking at the pictures.”
“What? Come in handy?” Daniel laughed. “Have you tried these things on? They make everything you see a weird color, and they’re kind of cloudy.”
“Come on, Daniel,” Crosby said. “You never know until you try.”
“Alright, Cros. Only for you,” Daniel said as he began flipping through the photos one more time.
“Slow down, Daniel.” Crosby insisted. “You’ll never see anything with or without the glasses if you go that fast!”
Daniel slowed his pace. He paused to take a closer look.
It couldn’t be, he thought.
Daniel took off the glasses, then put them back on. He took them off and put them on again.
“No way,” Daniel whispered.
When Daniel wasn’t wearing the glasses, everything in the pictures looked as it had during the photo shoot. But when he put them on, Crosby was missing from the photos, and there sat Poppa on the couch next to him.
“Crosby, how did you…” Daniel began.
“I don’t know, Daniel,” Crosby said. “I just knew the glasses were meant to tell us something.”
Daniel peered closer at the image of his grandfather staring back. In his hand he held his “lucky” reel.
“I think I know what we’re supposed to do, Cros,” Daniel said.
The next morning Daniel woke up bright and early. With Crosby by his side he tiptoed out of the house and made the long trek across town to the cemetery where Poppa was buried. Next to Poppa’s grave, Crosby dug a small hole and Daniel placed the reel inside. As they covered it with dirt, Crosby leaned over and licked his owner’s face. Suddenly, everything felt right with the world.
That night, as Daniel tucked himself into bed, he said one last goodnight to Crosby, removed the glasses and placed them on the nightstand next to him. He closed his eyes and dreamt of he and Poppa out on the fishing boat, but this time Poppa was elated because he had his “lucky” reel.
Daniel woke up that morning knowing he had done the right thing. He wanted to tell Crosby all about his dream. As he reached for the glasses, he felt a different yet familiar object in its place. He picked it up and brought it closer to his sleepy eyes to get a better look. The glasses were gone. In their place was the model truck that Daniel had tried to get out of the claw machine in the first place. Daniel chuckled a bit to himself as Crosby let out a good morning bark.
“I know, boy. I love you too, “ Daniel said.