It was a sunny, unusually warm Saturday afternoon in February, but Tucker and his little doll were spending it indoors doing some much needed house cleaning. Instead of lazily swinging in the hammock outside, letting the sunlight simmer them into a bubbly happiness as they usually might do on such a day, they remained inside, basking in the friendly rays of sunlight that came through the windows to greet them. The warm solar light was probably more comforting inside anyway, as there was still a pinching chilly air outside despite it being warmer than it should be.
"Little doll..." Tucker was standing in the archway to the kitchen watching his daughter, who could barely see over the sink, rinse some dishes. As she sprayed them Tucker could see airborne droplets of water, as they sparkled in the window's sunlight, getting her dress wet.
"Yeah, daddy?" Casey said with one eye closed tightly to avoid some of her wild spraying.
"Let's do dishes later," Tucker said softly, "there's things to do in the attic. Besides, I'm not sure if I've ever taken you up there."
"OK, daddy," Casey said as she zipped the sprayer back into its place. She grabbed a towel, dried her hands off, then grabbed her father's big, strong, dry hand.
The attic door creaked as Tucker opened it. Dust trickled out of the big, square hole in the ceiling as he did so. Some of it irritated Casey's nose and she sneezed.
"Bless you, little doll," chuckled Tucker. Casey smiled.
"How we gonna get all the way up there, daddy?"
"With this step ladder I brought up."
Tucker held it while Casey gingerly ascended the little ladder. When she got to the top she stretched her arms up as high as they could go. Her wiggling fingers couldn't quite reach the edge.
"Help me dad!" Casey said in a strained voice.
Tucker laughed quietly. "OK, little doll." He grabbed her waist and hoisted her up higher. Then she was able to reach the edge and climb up.
"Wow," Casey whispered as she stood up. It was quiet up there and the air smelled stale. Friendly rays of sunlight poured in through the dirty spherical window at the other end. Bits of dust sparkled in the light as they slowly ascended down toward the floor and floated back up.
"Cool, huh?" said Tucker as he hoisted himself up. Casey's little brown eyes scanned the room; her mind filled with wonder as she looked at all the things she'd never seen before.
"Oh, daddy, we're not throwing any of this cool stuff away, are we?" Casey squeaked as she felt a fur coat that had been resting on an old coat rack.
"I'm afraid that some of it has to go," Tucker said. He looked at his daughter's back as she was silhouetted against the sunlight. She might have been some little strange alien being then as the shapes of her torso, arms, dress and pointy bow in her hair all meshed together in one big black blob. He shadow stretched all the way back to meet him.
Such a big shadow for such a little girl, Tucker mused.
"Daddy, what's this?!" Casey said as she bent down to grab something that was toward the end of the attic. "Cool. Giant CDs!"
She turned to her side, holding a big, dark disc up in the sunlight. "Air...air...rosmith?"
Tucker chuckled. "Aerosmith! It's a rock band I like. And that is not a giant CD." He approached his daughter to get a better look at her find.
"Then what is it?" Casey said, flipping it over and studying it with her nose crinkled and eyes squinted.
My god, she doesn't even know what one is! Tucker thought. She's never actually seen a record! Not on TV...or anything! Man, I feel old now!
"It's a record," Tucker said softly. He went to the stack she'd discovered and held another one up. "It's the way Mommy and I listened to music when we were children. Sometimes it's called vinyl."
"How do you play these big CDs?"
"Records," Tucker corrected her. "Come with me, I'll show you."
Down in the basement, Tucker brought Casey over to his turn table. It has been collecting dust while sitting next to an old television. The record player was part of a silver stereo system that also played 8-tracks and cassette tapes.
"This thing plays these CDs, I mean, records?" Casey said, pointing at it. She had seen the big, funny-looking radio before when she was down there playing, but had never really wondered what it was for.
"Yeah, I'll show you," Tucker said. "See that cord down there? Could you plug it in for daddy?" He carefully lifted the plastic lid and placed the record on the turn table. Lights came to life on the stereo system as Casey did as he'd asked. Tucker grinned as he slowly set the stylus on the first groove.
"Oh no, daddy, is it broken?" Casey whined.
"No, no, Casey," Tucker said. "Listen."
The little girl gasped as thick guitar riffs began to blare out of the speakers, followed by thumbs of base and drums.
"Oh my gosh!" Casey exclaimed, hopping up a little. "How does it work?!"
Tucker picked his daughter up and brought her eye level with the old device. "See that arm right there? It has a needle at the end of it. You put the record under the needle and push 'play.' The sound is recorded in those little grooves. It actually is kind of like how CDs work. But the grooves on a CD are really tiny and made with lasers."
"Go to the next track, daddy!" Casey exclaimed. "What's the next song like?" She studied the buttons and dials. "Where's the 'next song' button?"
Tucker smiled as he put his daughter down. "It doesn't work quiiiite like that, hon." He gingerly grabbed the arm and slowly moved it further inward. When he let it down it began playing the middle of a song.
"Is that how it starts?!" Casey squeaked.
"No, no, honey," Tucker chuckled. "Going to the next song was a tad harder back then. Ah. Here." He put the arm back down and this time he got it right.
"Records are weird!" Casey said as she began to dance. She looked down at her feet as she twirled around.
Tucker laughed. "You think those are weird? I should show you some of my 8-tracks!"
"What are those?!" Casey asked. Tucker laughed again.
"Let's listen to some more of these until Mommy gets home from shopping."
"I thought we were s'posed to do housework," Casey pointed out.
Tucker slowly looked at his daughter's big, round brown eyes, then at the stack of records they'd brought down, then at the stereo. "Work can wait," he whispered. Casey giggled in agreement.
This little work of fiction was inspired by the tale told by a local DJ this morning on the air about how his eight-year-old daughter discovered his old records.