The Cellar

The Cellar

A Story by Shannon

Childhood Magic


"Can we open it today, Grandma?” I ask, even though I’m sure she will say what she always says: “No, not today”. I’m not too disappointed, because I know she is going to tell me another tale.

“Leprechauns don’t like to be surprised,” Grandma whispers, peering over the edge of her glasses at me, with a glint in her eye, while she’s busy mending Grandpa’s shirt.

Granndmmmaa….how would leprechauns get in the cellar? The door is locked.”

She smiles at me, “They are magic and I said they can let themselves in, whenever they want.”

“Why would they want to use your cellar?” I ask.

“Well,” says my grandma, “sometimes they need a safe place to store their gold in between rainbows. So we have a deal. They can use my cellar; I will make sure no one disturbs them or their gold. In return, they give us extra rainbows.”

“Grandma,” I giggle, “Leprechauns don’t make the rainbow, they just put their gold on the end of it. Everyone knows that!”

Grandma again looks over her glasses, this time with a small frown, “How do you know that? Have you ever asked them? Because I have, and they told me: the rainbow appears after the pot of gold. It seems to me they are the ones who would know these things!”

I look at the heavy door, tucked into the corner of the kitchen. It looks like it’s made of wide pieces of wood. It’s narrower than the other doors in the house and has one of those keyholes that you can see through, right to the other side. But when I tried to use a flashlight to look once, Grandma warned me I would scare away the sugar plum fairies, so I haven't tried since.

Grandma has one of those old looking keys to open the door on a rusty key ring, along with a smaller key.


Today, I am helping Grandma kneed the bread dough.  Since I am 8 years old now, I can cut off bits to make buns now too!

Grandma tells me, “A special messenger brought me an antique bicycle all the way from Ireland."

“Why do you need a bike from Ireland?” I ask.

“When I was a young woman, and came to Canada, my sister and I lost each other… .”

“How can you lose a sister?”

“My sister went to another country and I didn’t know where.”

“That must have been sad.”

“It was, but we found each other again, remember Aunt Alice?”

I remember Aunt Alice visiting; she talked verrry funny. Grandma tells me the story of Aunt Alice learning to ride a bicycle when they were about my age. I notice her eyes are all shiny, like she might cry, but she is smiling too, so it’s okay.

Grandma says a gargoyle brought a bicycle to her from her sister. But gargoyles turn to stone when the light hits them, and this makes them grumpy, so we can’t open the door today.


In the end, all the stories lead to the same conclusion every time: we can’t open the cellar door today, because some magical creature has taken refuge and must not be disturbed.

As I get older, the stories change a bit. The creatures, like the gargoyle, bring odds and ends that Grandma wants more often. A photograph, a pin, the old bicycle. I play along; the cellar must not be usable for some reason, so my grandmother started making up stories. She seems to love telling me them. It becomes a game, of sorts, with me humoring her, as she used to entertain me when I was small.


I’m back home from University, for her funeral. Laughter and tears mix, as we all tell stories about our beloved, and sometimes silly, matriarch.

“So, what’s really up with the cellar?” I think to ask.

“What cellar?” my uncle asks.

“Behind the narrow, heavy door in the kitchen that’s always locked.”

“There’s no cellar there.”

“Yes there is. Grandma always told me about it.”

My uncle, realizing which door I mean, gives me my grandmother’s keys, rusty key ring and all. I pause for a moment, realizing I’ve never seen anyone but her in possession of these keys.

I slide the skeleton key into the old brass key hole and slowly turn. The door opens silently and I peer inside to see a tiny broom closet. My eyes well up; there is no cellar.

My uncle puts his hand on my shoulder, shaking his head.

"I thought you knew; Mom just kept her old junk and cleaning supplies in here. She made up the stories because you threw such a tantrum the first time she told you that you weren’t allowed in.”

Losing the champion of my childhood wonder hits me all at once. Clutching the keys to my chest I start to sob.

“What’s the small one for?” I ask, holding out the keys on the ring.

“I don’t know.”

I search the closet with still burning eyes and locate a very small steamer trunk in the far corner. Getting to my knees, I insert the key, which, unlike the closet door, is a little sticky. After a few seconds, the lock clicks and I open the chest.

An envelope, with my name written in a pretty, but simple, script, has been set on the top. Under  are a scattering of seemingly random vintage, antique or just plain old, objects.

Riffling gently through the chest, my eyes are drawn to a deck of handmade playing cards. Each card is painted with a colorful mythical creature. They are all here: leprechauns, gargoyles, sugar plum fairies, unicorns, ogres… all of them. I take note of a charm bracelet with a bicycle charm still attached and a yellowing photograph of a young family standing in front of a wood farm house, amongst all the other treasures Grandma had spun her tales around.

In the letter, my grandmother asks me to care for our history. There, written in her hand, is the history of my family, as told by the objects she carefully collected over a lifetime.

© 2017 Shannon

Author's Note

I have made a few adjustments. If its your second read, let me know what you think.

Things have been going well, so why not add another challenge to the mix - dialogue! Any feedback or suggestions welcome.

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Featured Review

I had a smile on my face every time I read the character of Grandma speaking to you (the narrating character) in this story. This is one of the best short stories I have read, from a sentimental, clever, and intriguing standpoint. I also feel somewhat deprived for not reading it sooner.

I strongly wanted to know what was in the cellar, and I wanted to believe your Grandma was somehow telling the truth as silly as that may sound. Once I realized there wasn't a cellar, I still wanted to believe that somehow her words could be proven true, again, as silly as that may sound. Once the narrator (your character) found that small trunk/chest, I KNEW that she had been telling the truth in some shape or form and I was so happy to read the ending. I found this story to be very enjoyable, well-written, heartwarming, and cleverly executed. I don't know what you had changed from first version, and I am not sure if you're considering changing it again in the future... However, I think the ending is perfect, and it's everything that I wanted even though I wasn't sure what to expect. You captured my interest from start to finish while feeling many emotions throughout this story. There's so much I'd like to quote, but everything past "Riffling gently through the chest" is what blew me way. Even though I was anticipating something, I still wasn't sure what to expect or how it could be executed. The beginning and end are my favorite parts, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story throughout. Remarkably written and expressed, this is my favorite story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


2 Years Ago

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your reaction. It is extremely validating to have someone.. read more

2 Years Ago

You're very welcome. I am extremely glad to hear all of that.


"The Cellar"
Your Grandmama was amazing and loved you so! To spend time creating such a winsome, sweet world just for you, her granddaughter is beyond compare. She was quite the story teller. I enjoyed how these story times with her were a joint job time.. that is doing something togerher. Helping her make bread and you learning. You learned about give and take and also how to weave a story. Her ancestry was Irish. It seems to me that she brought a interplay quality to her story telling because it was the result of your curiosity concerning the mysterious cellar. Lovely and a smile giver from beginning to end. When I and my four siblings were growing up our parents told us stories that we believed were true...for, smile.. Anyhow. God Bless you much.

Posted 5 Months Ago

Beautifully written. I started with the expectation that the girl would grow up and lose her belief in the magic of the cellar only to learn in the end it did exist. Although, I suppose I lost my belief in the magic of the cellar and found it was there in the end. I felt the emotions of this piece, the rise of childlike wonder, the small disappointment of not visiting the cellar but with hope that a visit was soon to come, the calm of realizing it wasn't real, the mix of joy and tears when the grandmother died, the car crash moment when the cellar is revealed to be a mere closet, the unveiling sun when we discover the closet holds more than we imagined, and the honor of a responsibility. Each emotion came in perfect time and worked together to play a beautiful song in the heart. The dialogue, though simple, does what it needs to and doesn't try to go beyond, setting the stage rather than acting upon it. in the end, a single word. Bravo!

Posted 9 Months Ago

I absolutely love this story. The treasures left by our grandparents are like none other.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you Norma. Treasure has so many meanings.
I thought this story was charming and well written. I appreciate you for sharing it.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you Delmar I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Awesome i too love my grandma. Well done

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you Amaan.
I`ve got to say, as a reader who`s more interested in novels about war, action and suspense, I was surprised to see that I actually enjoyed reading this piece.

Obviously, I started reading this story after you made your adjustments, but as far the dialogue is concerned, it`s done really well. Doesn`t seem like a challenge to you! Which is a good thing. However, there`s something you can do to make the dialouge feel more realistic and alive.

In short, you can describe the character`s thoughts, feelings and/or how they say their line before or after their dialouge. Don`t get me wrong, you`ve done so already. An example I can pull from your text is the following: "She smiles at me, they are magic and I said they can let themselves in, whenever they want." But thing is, don`t be afraid to use it. It can be powerful in its own right if used correclty.

However, I seriously enjoyed reading this story. As an 18-year-old who`s lived with his grandmother ever since he was born, I can relate. Only in my case, the stories wasn`t about our cellar, but the attic.

Anyways, keep up with the writing, Soldier of Literature!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you Daniel, for the positive and detailed feedback. I am glad you enjoyed it, despite the uniq.. read more

1 Year Ago

You`re welcome!
This was heart breaking but heart warming at the same time. This gave me vibes of good Night Mister Tom mostly becasue the relation ship of you and your Grand ma. Jeez I suck at comparing things it's better if you just read becasue it's great. Anyway this was an amazing short story. I absolutely love how sudden the death of the Grand Ma was because it's excatly like in real life. You never know when someone you love is going to die so treasure them like it's their last day.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you for the read and review. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I guess I reference your part of th.. read more
my heritage is Scots/Irish ..... my heart holds the Little people and faeries very close .. so i really enjoyed you G'ma's telling of them
"In the end, all the stories lead to the same conclusion ..." at first seemed a little abrupt of a transition ... the closing that looses Grandma is tearful ..but your ending mixes the joy that sometimes accompanies such things ... i object to gargoyles in the mix as they are not a part of Irish lore ... having their birthing in Medieval Europe if i am not mistaken ... gargoyles have an evil intent in them; unlike the mischievous behavior of Leprechauns ;) Grandma and Grand daughter are endearing characters ..very relateable ... i could feel the warmth and even the smells connected ... i wish i had oportunity to know mine more ..but what memories i do have are even more precious ..thank you for this story that awakens them :)))

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you, E. For your thoughts. I had not considered that most of the creatures were Irish, more
Oooooohhhhh ahhhhhhh I cried your second version is so beautiful xxx.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you, I am glad you enjoy.
My spine tingled not with horror but with joy it brought back my old childhood memories with my grandfather I will certainly read more of you thanks do much loved your story

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave your thoughts. I'm always thrilled when some.. read more

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38 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on May 7, 2016
Last Updated on January 8, 2017




I like to explore the world through the human experience, at once both varied and singular. Reading, writing and meeting people makes one's world larger. I enjoy connecting with people, learning.. more..

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