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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: The Cadence
By Connie Pilston Shoemaker


Tap, tap tap hear the hurried people in the morning as they set off for work and the bus stop on the corner in the steamy heat. But what she hears is the chirping of a bird in a fragrant bush nearby. She smells the hot smell of burning brakes on the truck that just drove by squeaking and squealing. Tap tap they hear as they climb the steps of the bus. What she hears is the heavy sigh of the person on her left who smells of burnt toast. She hears the lady behind her saying the rosary as the clinking beads in her hand belt out a beat like a metronome.

Tap, tap they hear as they disembark at their stop. She hears the sound of laughing children as she walks by the playground which smells of freshly scrubbed sidewalks and pencil shavings.

Tap, tap they hear as they follow in herd-like fashion up the stairs to their cubicles. She hears the sounds of slamming office doors and the squeak of leather briefcases and rustle of overcoats from the men drenched in aftershave. At the office, they hear tap, tap while she hears the hushed conversations of the heavily perfumed ladies and the gurgling of the water cooler. Phones ring, coffee perks . . . nothing escapes her senses while the others blindly go about their routines.

Tap, tap they hear in the rush to get out the door for lunch. She hears the sounds of lunch bags rustling and smells pastrami and onions. She hears watches beep out the call to noon in a duet with the bells at St. Paul’s Cathedral and she bows her head to pray. Walking by the playground, squealing is replaced by soft voices talking in between their bites of lunch. She hears the occasional clank in the metal trash drum of a discarded sack or water bottle. The cathedral chimes at one bring the workers back to the daily grind, to their desks and to their toil and they hear tap, tap. She hears the copiers and the conversations in the cubical down the hall. The sounds of the phones and the squeak of the mail cart as it scrapes its way toward her office then moves past without a pause.

Tap, tap they hear in the evening as they rush toward the door to catch the express train or the bus to the ferry. She hears the tired weary voices of people talking on their cell phones to those waiting at home; delivering their litany of reasons as to why they are late. She hears the rustle of shopping bags and smells fresh bread and fried chicken. The swirl of the hurried press past her impatiently as their steps break their rhythm and she longs for the familiar steps of her home.

Tap, tap he hears as she nears the front door. Thud, thud she hears from the other side . . . it is Max, her beloved companion, whom she’s missed all day. A smile spreads across her face.

When the doctor told her Max had to be off his injured paw for a while she wondered how she’d make it without him. While fumbling for the keys she breathes in the deep smell of lilac and hibiscus. She feels the wind on her face as it gently rings the wind chime by the door. Max begins to pant in anticipation of his friend and she hears the jingle of his tags. By this point in the evening, the crickets are chirping and the mourning doves are cooing their lullabies as the leaves softly rustle in the tree by the porch. She hears the buzz of the bees on the lilac blooms and the familiar creak as she opens the door.

Max bounds to the yard with a leap and a yelp, eager to play in the grass despite his sore paw. Her white cane tap taps through the doorway, Max on her heels, and she ponders the day’s cacophony. Walking to the back porch she turns on the waterfall on the picnic table and settles into the rocker. Creak, creak she hears, rocking back and forth. She hears the cicada and the frogs in the pond out back. She revels in the soothing sounds of God’s Invisible Symphony. Encore Encore hears herself say as she lets out a sigh and strokes Max who is sitting beside her. Thud thud beat his reply.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Myrna Noyes03/15/07
Your intriguing title drew me in and your creative account kept me there to the end! I noticed a couple places where punctuation would have helped with the flow a bit, though. I suspected your ending about a third of the way through, but wasn't sure until near the end! Good job of keeping my curiosity up! :) I really enjoyed this!
Sharlyn Guthrie03/15/07
Great job communicating the differences in perception! I felt like I was walking in her shoes.
julie wood03/16/07
I loved this! I could hear and smell everything--the pasrami and onions, the aftershave, the burning brakes, the lilacs, the "clank" of something dropped into the garbage can...etc., etc. Great use of descriptive verbs like "swirl," "thud," "bounds," "rustle," and "creak."

"Cubical" is spelled "cubicle" and "smell the hot smell" could be replaced with "smell the hot odor" to avoid redundancy. Also, "she hears" might at times be replaced with "she listens to" or some other variation. Other than that, this piece was a total delight to my ears (and nose!).

I loved the subtle way the main character's blindness was introduced. I suspected she might be blind by the hint of so many "hears" and no "sees"...but was not sure until later. This effectively sparked my curiosity.

Very moving portrayal of the main character's devoted guide dog. I could "see" and love him as well, using just my ears!
Jacquelyn Horne03/18/07
What a surprise ending here. I wondered all through this what the tap tap was. Of course that was the point. Well, you surprised this one. Good job.
Esther Phillips03/20/07
I, too, was surprised at the end. I was so caught up in the music surrounding this person, and thinking of how much music we miss in our daily walks. It is all around us. Good job of writing. I enjoyed this very much.
Jeanette Oestermyer03/20/07
What a nice story. I did not realize she was blind until the end when mentioned the white cane.

I enjoyed reading this story.
God Bless
Phyllis Inniss03/21/07
This is just great. The first four paragraphs have a poetic quality and the writing becomes more prosaic as Max is introduced. Very clever the way blindness was kept until the end and the taps were made clear.
william price03/22/07
Connie, as a judge this week I loved your story. If it wasn't for a few speed bumps here and there in the mechanics this would have been tops. Very creative, well told, and had great reader involvment. Super job. God bless.