She was going through her late grandfather’s things, helping her family in the effort to arrange what would be kept and what would be gotten rid of.
She was sorting through the contents of the antique desk in his study, the lacquer on the wood chipped at the edges, and the handles to the drawers oxidized black from their original shine. After wrestling with its second drawer, she was finally able to see what was inside.
There was a pile of papers in a faded yellow folder, which she moved aside to review later in case it might contain something important. If they revealed any previously unknown assets, they would be added to the list of things which her relatives would argue about.
Her grandfather was not an emotional man, but she thought that she had known him well enough as a child, though not as an adult. She hadn’t the chance to know him as a person before his memory started to fail him.
In truth, nothing in this study had probably been touched since he had been moved to a care facility by her family after her grandmother’s death. Nothing in this house had been touched in years, but at least her family had waited until he was dead to start rifling through his belongings.
Beneath the folder was a small box, seeming to contain knick-knacks of all sorts. An empty old tin from mints that they don’t make anymore, a fountain pen, a fossilized eraser, and one more item, which seemed to be a small metal disk, engraved with something that she couldn’t read.
She picked up the strange object, wondering what it could possibly be. After dusting it off, she saw that it was a bronze-ish color, spotted with the same oxidation as the handles of the drawers. She traced the edge of the disk until the center popped out, revealing a magnifying glass.
She dusted off the glass, and looked though it onto her hand. To her surprise, she had it turned the wrong way, and her hand looked smaller instead of larger.
As she held it up to the light, it was like a world in miniature through that glass. The edges were sharper, yet, more compressed. The dust on the green glass lampshade was less apparent. It was like the view of the world when you are in an airplane, when cars look like ants, and neighborhoods a series of lines and squares. Eventually your home fades away through the clouds until its just like the speck on the map that it is.
This was a magnifying glass of that world. Of her grandfather’s world. She could imagine him carrying it in his pocket, using it to read the newspaper or a book. It was but an object, but it was something which he had used to see what was out there.
“Are you done over there?” called her aunt, who she could hear coming down the hall.
She stuffed the magnifying glass into her pocket.
Her aunt rounded the corner and stood in the doorway.
She responded, “Yeah”.
“Is there anything important?”
“No, just a few papers and some knick-knacks”.
In case you were confused as to what it looked like, it’s like this (where the magnifying glass rotates back into the center):