The Sunshine Club


Tunnel Writer

Dedicated to my 9- year- old nephew, Xander, who gave me this idea with his daily
6:30am good morning texts

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon Below. All the children were either lying or sitting around in Kipper and Geoffrey's chamber, bored out of their minds.

With a particularly virulent winter flu sweeping through New York City, they were forbidden to go Uptop. No playing in the park, no skateboarding, and no sunshine.

Even the helpers were restricted from coming Below. If helpers had deliveries, they just left them in a designated area, tapped out a special code, and left. Gathering the supplies was the only excitement these days. The seclusion, resulting in depression, was getting to everyone, especially the children.

"I'm bored," Samantha said to no one in particular.

Several others agreed with her.

"I GOT IT!" Eric yelled as he sat straight up.

This got the attention of everyone.

"What if we started The Sunshine Club?"

"Sunshine Club? What's that?" Zach asked.

"Well, we will all write notes to different adults telling them how much they mean to us, or tell a joke, or share something funny. We sign them simply The Sunshine Club. Then we try to deliver them without being seen."

All the children got excited.

"Should we include helpers?" Geoffrey asked.

"That will be a bit more tricky, but I don't see why not."

"I'm writing a note to Vincent," Samantha stated as they searched for paper.

"No fair, I want to write Vincent's," Eric said.

"I know, we will put everyone's name in my pillowcase. You write a note to the name you draw," Geoffrey stated. The children agreed and went to work writing the names of all their tunnel family.

"Should we include Narcissa?" Kipper shivered. The older lady was friendly enough, but many scary stories told late at night revolved around the voodoo Haitian.

"Why not?" Geoffrey shrugged.

"But she's blind and can't read," Samantha stated matter- of- factly.

"Maybe not, but maybe we can give her something," Eric said as he started to think hard. "I know! Next Thursday is Jamie's birthday. William will be making a dessert of her choice to celebrate."

"Cherry pie. It's her favorite,]" Samantha piped in, smiling.

"Yeah, maybe we can take a slice to Narcissa," Eric stated.

Kipper spoke up. "But how will we get there? You know it's against the rules to travel so far out of the boundary line."

"Maybe Vincent can take us!" Zach suggested.

"We can't tell our secret!" Samantha reminded him.

"Unless… we make Vincent an honorary member of our club and make him solemnly swear not to tell," Zach answered.

"Hey! If Vincent is our honorary member, then he can help deliver secret notes to the helpers," Eric said with excitement.

The other children smiled brightly and agreed.

One by one the children drew a name out of the pillowcase and went to work on their notes.

Samantha drew her next name. "I got Narcissa. Since we already decided to give her pie, maybe we should all go when we deliver it."

"We can put it in front of her and yell 'Compliments of The Sunshine Club'," Eric suggested.

"We don't need to yell. She's blind, not deaf." Geoffrey laughed.

For the next few hours, the children were busy drawing names and writing notes. They finished just in time for dinner and then story time before bed. The children went to bed excited about the notes.

The next morning, the children gathered before breakfast with their notes. They found a table together, and hurriedly ate. Most of the adults would be heading off for water pipe repairs or their normal work duties soon. School wouldn't start for another hour, so they all split up to deliver their notes.

"Remember, don't get caught," Samantha stage-whispered as they went their separate ways.

Kipper snuck into Father's library and put his note under the chess board. Next time Father and Vincent played chess, he'd see it. Then he snuck into the pipe chamber. This would be tougher, but Pascal was taking a few minutes to eat. Pascal never stayed away long, so he had to rush. He ran over to Pascal's hand pipe and wrapped the note around it. He ran out just in time. Pascal walked in as Kipper vanished down another tunnel.

Samantha snuck into Mary's chamber and put her note in her sewing basket. Then she rushed to Jamie's chamber and put the note on her pillow.

Eric ran to where Elizabeth's latest painting was. He placed the note by her paintbrushes. Then he ran off to deliver the next note to Mouse. He was busy with his experiment and never noticed Eric crawling into his chamber and placing a note by his tools. Eric then crawled back as fast and as quietly as he could.

Geoffrey tiptoed into Vincent's chamber. He looked around for the perfect place and saw the closed journal on the table. He paused a moment and decided against placing the note inside. That was too invasive. So he tucked the note under the journal, making sure half of it was sticking out and very noticeable. Then he took off for the kitchen.

This would be the hardest. William spent most every waking hour cooking and planning meals. Sure enough[,] William was standing with his back facing him.

Geoffrey looked around and saw a huge soup pot on a table close to him. He tiptoed over and propped the note against the pot. If William turned around right then, he'd be caught. Thankfully, he was busy kneading some dough.

Geoffrey ran off and tried to find the other kids.

That's when they started hearing the talking.

"Who is this Sunshine Club?" Olivia puzzled.

"Jamie, did you write this?" Mary asked.

"I was going to ask you the same thing," she replied back.

The children had to hide their smiles and giggles as the adults were confused by the sweet heartfelt notes.

"Well, it seems like everyone received a note," someone said as the kids walked away grinning.

Talk of The Sunshine Club continued clear until lunch. Adults were sharing their notes, smiling, and trying to figure out who was in this club.

Vincent picked up on the hidden smiles of the children, and realized who the members of The Sunshine Club were. After dinner he pulled out his note and reread it for the twentieth time. He smiled as he lovingly folded it, pulled out paper, and wrote some notes of his own.

He always had the habit of making rounds and checking on the children hours after they'd fallen asleep. He checked on their well being, covering them if blankets got kicked off or twisted, and calming them if they started to toss from a nightmare. He would also make sure all was well before going to bed himself. He couldn't remember when he started this routine, but it had been years. This night, while doing his nightly rounds, he had a handful of notes of his own to pass out.

He placed Samantha's by her hairbrush, Eric's by his glasses that were sitting on a shelf by his bed. He placed Geoffrey's on his shoes. Each child received a note of their own detailing their own special traits and what he loved about each one. Every note was signed "Grateful for The Sunshine Club."

He checked on each child one last time before going to bed.

The next morning, the children were shocked and surprised by their notes. "Who found us out?" Zach asked.

Samantha read her note again and a huge smile came to her face. "This is Vincent's writing."

All the children found Vincent in his chamber.

"We want to ask you something," Eric spoke up.

Vincent laid his book down and gave the children his undivided attention. "What do you wish to know?" he asked gently.

"Since you figured out that we're The Sunshine Club, would you be an honorary member and deliver our notes to the helpers without being seen? It's a secret," Eric asked.

Vincent smiled. "I'll find a way." He nodded.

"Oh, and one last thing. Will you go with us to take a slice of Jamie's birthday pie to Narcissa? She should be included, and she can't read notes," Geoffrey explained.

"We can go Saturday as long as there aren't any emergencies to see to."

The children smiled and Samantha said, "Welcome to The Sunshine Club."


The End.