Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Instrument

This flautist spent a couple months of my fourth-grade year thinking I may well be losing my mind.

I wore my zippered backpack on my back even while riding that dusty, yellow bus with its barely-padded, vinyl, dark green seats. I had an assigned seat mate: Robin. She lived in the cul-de-sac. She didn't much comb her hair or wash her coat: tough as nails, she was, even in elementary school. I carried a book for reading, always, and just tried to mind my own business.

One day, I stepped off the bus in front of the school, and suddenly, inexplicably, the front of my backpack fell open, and all my books and papers and folders and things hit the sidewalk just at my heels. I remember, still, the humiliation: sliding my backpack off my shoulders and clutching it in front of me, stooping in my dress to scoop up my stuff and jumble-cram it into my bag. A few of my papers blew on a breeze under the bus.

I couldn't believe I'd forgotten to zip my backpack, and it wasn't long after that I started to lose things: a pack of school pictures, a library book. I still remember which: Sylvia Cassedy's Behind the Attic Wall. I loved that book.

And then, one day, I lost my flute. I'd zipped it into my backpack, but--when I got home--the zipper was about eight inches open at the top, and the instrument was gone. And suddenly, I knew (don't ask me how): Robin had snaked that flute right out my backpack.

When Daddy got home from work, I told him all about it. "Are you sure?" he asked, and I nodded. "Well," he said, "get in the truck. We'll go get it back."

Minutes later, Daddy was knocking on the door of Robin's house in the cul-de-sac. I stood beside him, my hands crammed deep in my coat pockets against the cold and dark. Robin's daddy answered the door. "I believe your daughter has my daughter's flute," Daddy said. He never has been one to much beat around the bush.

Robin's daddy frowned and called for Robin's mama. She came to the door. "Robin come home with a flute?" Robin's daddy asked her.

Robin's mama looked from her husband to my daddy and back again. "She did," she said, bewildered. "Told me the band instructor was letting her borrow it."

Robin's daddy shook his head. "It belongs to this little girl," he said, nodding toward us. "Y'all come in."

Robin's mama left their dim, little living room and came back with the flute. Daddy and I thanked her kindly and climbed back in the truck. He didn't say another word, just reached over and squeezed my leg right above the knee.

A week or so later, Holly from the cul-de-sac handed me my library book. "I knew you were looking for it," she said, "and I found it at Robin's house. She must really like you; your pictures are all over her room."


**Writing in community with Tanya and friends. Source of image.

17 comments:

  1. Oh BOY. This story packs a punch.
    I'm in tears.

    Just - exquisitely told. Thanks so much for linking up.

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  2. What a story. I love your writing. You have such a wonderful way of baring the souls of your characters. This was touching.

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  3. OH MY GOODNESS! I want more!!!

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    1. Sorry to say, that really is the end of the story!

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  4. whoa! You were a star to someone even back then and didn't even know it!

    This just shows how we view things may not be quite as it really is....

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    1. Thank you for this, Marlece; you're so right.

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  5. um....awesome. you really should continue with this. really

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    1. I'd have to shift to fiction, b/c it ends here!

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  6. ok I want more! did ya'll become best friend? did she ever talk to you about it? did you talk to her? I HAVE to have CLOSURE!

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  7. Brandee,

    Wow, that's deep... Thank you.

    It reminds me of someone I knew growing up too.

    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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  8. Brandee
    This is beautifully told and laden with so much that isn't spoken. And even just a tiny bit scary..
    Glad you still have you flute though! (found you at Tanya's place)

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    1. THAT'S what my HUSBAND said: Single White Female! ahaha

      Thanks for visiting!

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  9. Wow, Brandee. Exquisite story-telling. So many layers. So many. Thank you.

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  10. Still loving this! I plugged this on my FB page and on my monthly link ups - it was SO good!

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