“How’s Annabelle feeling, sweetheart?”
“Dad, she’s sick. She is running a fever over 101. I have her covered with a blanket, and I’ve made her favorite soup. I’m worried…”
“I’ll come that way. You know what would make her feel better?”
“A story. Let me speak to our princess.”
Rebekah Hawkins walked down the hall to Annabelle’s room. She cracked the door open and peeked inside. Annabelle was propped up on her pillows staring out the window.
“Hey, Belle. Pop-Pop Abram wants to talk to you.”
“Hey, sugar bear. How are you feeling?”
“I know. Would you like for me to come over and read you a story?”
“Mommy read me a story. I don’t like it. The girls always have to get rescued.”
“I take it you’ve never heard the true story of Goldilocks.”
“The true story?”
“Yes. The truth is locked away in a vault, that was built into the inner wall of Mount St. Helen.”
“Yep. Her story is legendary, and the government was afraid that someone might hunt her down and kill her. So, they buried the truth in the most dangerous place they could think of.”
“I haven’t heard that story, Pop-Pop.”
“Would you like me to come over and tell you the story?”
“Okay. I am on my way.”
Abram hung up his phone and walked out to his barn. In the back corner sat an old black trunk that was partially covered with a rat-chewed blanket.
He swept the blanket aside and unlocked the chest. Inside the chest was memorabilia from his time at war. He took out his leather-bound journal, old photographs of he and his friends, and his unit guidon.
Then, he set out to visit his granddaughter.
Annabelle pulled the blanket tight to her chin and leaned back. Rebekah leaned over her and kissed her forehead.
“Pop-Pop is on his way here, mommy. He’s gonna tell me the true story of Goldilocks.”
“The true story? Hmm, I don’t reckon I’ve heard it.”
“Pop-Pop said that the truth of Goldilocks is locked away in a vault inside of Mount St. Helen.”
“Oh, my. How does Pop-Pop know all that?”
“Because I was the one tasked with locking it in the vault,” Pop-Pop said from the doorway.
Rebekah turned her head quickly to hide her grin. Annabelle leaned up and looked at her grandfather. Her brown eyes wide, they twinkled with delight.
“Come on in, dad. You can sit next to her here.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Pop-Pop, you locked the truth away about Goldilocks?”
“I did, but that’s not the story I am here to tell you about, right?”
“No, sir. But I would like to hear the one about you locking the truth away sometime.”
“It’s a national secret, you can’t tell anyone. But you get better, and I will see if I can get permission to tell you about it.”
Rebekah fluffed Annabelle’s pillows and put a bowl of chicken noodle soup on the nightstand, along with a glass of sweet tea.
“Make sure she eats, dad. She needs to keep her strength up.”
“Okay. You got that, kiddo?”
“Okay, so let’s see. Ah, we will start at the beginning.”
Annabelle nodded and took a bite of her soup, Abram gave her a wink of encouragement and launched into his tale.
“It was a dark time here in America. Britain served as an overlord to us. “Pay more taxes,” they would yell. Life was hard. One day, the colony decided to rebel against the Crown, and war broke out.”
“I don’t want to hear about war, Pop-Pop. Boys play war, I want to hear about Goldilocks.”
“Just hold on for a second, and let me lay out the backstory, Belle. I promise, we will get to Goldilocks shortly.”
“Eat some more of your soup. Anyway, war broke out. The colonies rose up in defiance, and among them was a blonde-haired girl named Goldilocks.”
Annabelle ate some soup and watched her grandfather. “He doesn’t look like he could climb into a volcano and survive…maybe there’s more to him than what is on the outside…”
“Goldilocks was born in the colonies, and it was the only life she’d ever known. As a young girl she played in the streams, played hide-an-seek with her siblings, and hunted with her daddy in the winter.”
“She was a tomboy,” Annabelle said knowingly. “I’m a tomboy too.”
“Ah, so you are.”
Annabelle slurped the remainder of her soup and washed it down with the sweet tea. Pop-Pop handed her a napkin, and she wiped her mouth.
“Anyway, Goldy Hawthorne, known to her friends as Goldilocks, was fifteen when war broke out. By the time the war had started, she had spent years in the wilderness hunting and fishing, trapping and adventuring.”
“Are you sure she was a girl,” Annabelle asked with her nose wrinkled up. “That sounds like stuff a boy would do.”
“She was a girl. Back then people did all sorts of stuff that people frown on doing nowadays. There was no ‘this is man stuff’ or ‘this is woman stuff.’ It was only stuff, and everyone pitched in to help.”
“Should I continue?”
“Goldy knew all the trails and shortcuts. She knew the sounds of the forest better than anyone. One day, General Washington came to her town. Everyone crowded around the great man. Goldilocks had gone into town to visit an elderly couple her family went to church with. Her mother and father were there as well.”
Belle sneezed interrupting Abram’s story. Her breath came out a wheeze. He stood and placed his hand on her forehead.
“You’re burning up, child. Let me get you some medicine. We’ve got to break this fever.”
Abram walked to her closet and pulled out another blanket. Rebekah came in with cough syrup and a spoon. She poured the purple liquid into the spoon. Belle wrinkled up her face at the sight of the purple ooze.
“Open your mouth, Belle. I know, it’s horrible tasting, but it will make you feel better.”
“No buts, Belle. Say ‘aaah’. It will be over in a second.”
Belle opened her mouth and shut her eyes tightly. She swallowed and wiped at her nose.
“You’re brave, sweetheart. Just like Goldilocks.”
“Thanks, Pop-Pop. What happened next?”
“Well men and women crowded General Washington and asked him to make a speech. So, he climbed on a hitching post for horses and said they were looking for infiltrators to spy on the British Army.”
“She was a spy, Pop-Pop?”
“And how. That day in town, she raised her hand to volunteer, and she was sent to Richmond, Virginia for training. She spent the next six months learning how to spot couriers, and how to recognize various ranks of the British Army.”
Abram stopped as Belle shifted on her bed and found a comfortable position. Her eyes drooped and a slight snore escaped from her. Abram leaned over and kissed her on her cheek.
Then, he walked out of the room and pulled the door shut. Rebekah stood in the hallway.
“I’m worried about Belle, dad.”
“I know. If the fever doesn’t break soon, we should get her to the doctor.”
“If she’s not better when she wakes up, I’ll call Dr. Frey.”
“Okay. Let Belle know, I’ll come back and finish the tale of Goldilocks.”
“Okay. She seemed interested in your tale.”
“Well, you will know one day how it is, sweetie. When you get old, you cherish the time you get to tell tall tales.”