Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
TITLE: The day the music died. (ii)
By T. F. Chezum
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“Dad, why does Grandpa have to live here?” Steve protested.
Jim grabbed his keys from the table. “Something with his heart, he can’t be alone.”
“He’s from the hills. He’s not like us.” Steve’s eyes remained glued to the monitor on his desk.
“He won’t be here long.” Jim stepped outside. “He’s probably tired from his trip. Just watch him for today.”
Steve huffed in acknowledgement.
Don walked into the living-room, an unusual object tucked under his arm.
“Grandpa.” Steve turned from his computer. “What’s that?”
He moved the case into view. “This?” He chuckled. “You’ve never seen a violin before?”
“What’s it do?”
A perplexed expression crossed the man’s face. “You play music with it.”
Steve stood up. “Music?” he queried. “Nobody’s played music in decades. It’s a total waste.”
Don placed a hand on his grandson’s shoulder. “Music opens the mind. It soothes the soul and brings enjoyment to one’s life.”
Steve pulled away. “Life’s too hectic, there’s more important things.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Don nestled the instrument under his arm. “There’s always time for music.” He headed for the door. “People need it.”
“What’re you doin’?”
A wry smile tugged the corners of Don’s mouth. “I’m going to the park across the street. I’ll find a bench in the shade, and play my violin.” He winked at the boy.
“You’re going to play it in the park?” Steve shook his head.
“I’m not ashamed of my music.” He looked back at the boy. “Why don’t you join me?”
Steve stood a safe distance from his grandfather as he pulled the bow across the strings. The sound started slow and simple; in short time the melodic nuances began to emerge. The youngster watched in amazement as the expression on the elderly man’s face evolved from deep concentration to total serenity.
“Sounds strange,” Steve muttered. He watched with growing intrigue. After a short time, the tune transfixed his senses; a tranquil smile emerged on his face.
Don continued to play, oblivious to the small group gathering near.
After many minutes, Don laid his instrument on his lap. Murmurs of appreciation and fascination spread amongst the crowd.
An older man stepped forward. “Thank you so much,” he said. A glint of happiness reflected in his eyes. “I had nearly forgotten how beautiful music can be.”
Steve hugged his grandfather. “That was cool.” He grabbed the violin. “Maybe some day you can teach me how to play this.”
The afternoon recitals became routine. Steve stood by his grandfather’s side, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn. People brought blankets to the park and sat with their families in anticipation of the soothing melodies.
After every performance Don tutored the boy.
“I wish I could play.” Steve dropped the bow in frustration. “Like you do.”
“You must be patient.” Don returned the bow to his grandson’s hand. “It’s a talent, a gift, but you must work to obtain it. Now, try again.”
Steve fixed his eyes on the music and began to play. His feeble, jerky movements settled into a fluid rhythm. A moment later he completed the simple tune.
“I did it,” he erupted with excitement
“I’m proud of you.”
“Grandpa.” Steve bounded into the bedroom. “It’s time to go.”
Don lifted his head from the pillow, beads of sweat on his brow. “I don’t think I’ll make it today.” His voice sounded weak.
“What’s wrong?” Tears welled in the boys eyes. “Is it your heart? We can…”
Don shook his head. “My time’s over.”
“If you die,” Steve sobbed. “Your music will die, too.”
“The music cannot die.” The weary man struggled for air. “Even if only one person continues playing it.”
The boy grasped his grandfather’s hand. “I’m still learning.”
“Don’t be ashamed of your talent.” He squeezed Steve’s hand, in return. “You’ve practiced for many months now.”
“My music isn’t as good as yours.”
“Not worse or better, but unique to you.” Don sighed, “It is your time.”
“Don’t grieve.” Don’s breathing labored.
Steve embraced the elderly man. “I love you.” His voice quivered. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll be with you, in your music.” His hand slid from Steve’s grip.
Steve picked up the instrument from beside the bed and clutched it to his chest.
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