The Secret at the Redstone Inn

Day 4 of the Flash Fiction February Challenge. The prompt today is to write a story from the perspective of a kitchen item.

“Let’s move it to the right just a bit more. If we push it all the way to the wall, the trap door will be fully covered. No one will ever know it’s there.”

I felt calloused hands lift me up, straining against the weight, and then all four of my legs landed firmly once more on the stone floor. Only the leg that rested on the loose stone felt a little wobbly.

And there I sat, in the kitchens of the Redstone Inn, bearing a secret I wasn’t able to share.

At first, those humans who shared my secret were careful to avoid tilting me too much on that wobbly stone but then someone stuck a small sliver of wood under my opposite leg and the secret was easier to conceal. The hustle and bustle of the kitchen covered up any other suspicious behavior and soon the secret was completely forgotten.

I knew more about the kitchen staff than they knew about me. Every word of juicy gossip was spilled over me from the lips of the maids, especially when mugs of beer rested on my worn wooden surface. I knew of every cook’s struggle for perfection, every furtive kiss between lovers, and every vengeful plot hatched in the middle of the night over one too many whiskeys.

As the years passed, my strong oaken legs held firm, collecting dust and grime under my smooth table top, softly nicked and worn down to a dull luster. I had been well-built but was in dire need of a good cleaning.

Years went by, more than I could count. The times had changed so many times, I felt like I had sat in that kitchen for hundreds of years. Even I had mostly forgotten about the secret I concealed beneath my legs.

One night a man and woman sat at me, one drinking a strong coffee, the other a calming tea. They were talking in hushed tones and mentioned names I hadn’t heard since…

Suddenly, the man rested his hands on me and stopped talking. It was like he was reading me, feeling the pattern of my grain. His hands stirred up disjointed memories I didn’t know I had. The sun, rain, wind. A squirrel making a next in my tall branches and harvesting my acorns in the fall. The experience made me feel more alive than a kitchen table should. I felt a shudder through my dead cells. To me, it was an earthquake; to the man’s hands, it was nothing more than a hum. But, it was enough.

“Where did this table come from?”

“I have no idea. It’s been here as long as I worked here. Longer than anyone has, really.” The woman ran a fond hand along the edge of my surface. The humming calmed and stopped under the touch of her strong hands.

The man frowned and studied me some more. I could feel the callouses on his fingers and palms. He was older than he appeared, a warrior from the past. Like me, he had many stories and held many secrets.

“I think this table has been here for a very, very long time. There is something more here. Help me move it?”

Together they pushed me away from the wall. A broom shooed away some of the thick layers of dust and grime that had piled up over the years. The sliver of wood that had stabilized my wobble fell away and the man rested a foot on the loose stone tile.

It shifted.

The man pressed his foot on one edge of the stone, forcing the other edge up. After struggling against the weight, the two of them managed to pull the stone tile up and let it clamor to the ground. The woman looked nervously out the kitchen door.

The man, undisturbed by the noise, looked up from the deep, dark hole he had been staring into. “I think we found the rest of the tunnels,” he said with a clever grin.

Together, they descended into the darkness.

Published by Leah Abbey

I write about nature, parenting, and fiction from my home in the San Diego area. I try to keep this blog updated at least weekly. If you haven't heard from me in a while, it's probably because I've been working on my novel. (Or, just trying to stay sane while my three-year-old runs over his baby sister with a toy school bus.)

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