Number 22 in the street, the sturdy dark stained house belonging to the Jones family, stood on a prominent hill surrounded by what appeared, to a house-proud eye, to be roughly similar houses. Though No 23 did make Number 22's heart flutter.
Houses 23 and 24 were her family. She regarded the Jones family as nothing less than marauding interlopers who when they had noisily left the house at some ungodly hour for work or school, meant at least she had some peace and quiet.
This gave her time to wink at Number 23, a fine specimen of a house in her view, and to indulge her wilder romantic fantasies about 23 as a possible life partner!
Yet there was a massive fly in the ointment that disturbed her.
She'd heard about Mr and Mrs Jones, as she derisively referred to them, in her loud (yet unheard by the human ear) afternoon conversations with Number 24 - more of a maiden aunt of a house than any real competition for Number 23's affections. She heard that they were, God forbid, thinking of demolishing her house and replacing it with something called a duplex.
'Well,' Number 24 told her in a thick wooden voice, with just a hint of malice, 'at least there won't be any chance you'll end up like me!'
Yes, completely empty upstairs, was Number 22’s first thought.
WHO AM I?
Twisted and bound together, I was made of cotton and nylon rope. Bound at one end, with a metal clip done up at the other, I was packaged inside plastic then shipped and placed on a shelf.
I stayed there for weeks before finally being picked up by a young couple. They brought me home and unbound me from my plastic prison.
In front of me was a four legged furry beast with a constantly moving tail and boundless energy. I truly began my existence at this point. I had purpose. I kept the beast from roving too far from the couple.
At first it was easy, because despite the furry beast's energy, he was weak and unfocussed. It changed as the moons passed. He became stronger and it became a contest between us as he tried to break me, to garner his own escape. Yet I held to my purpose, keeping him in place as he stopped at every bush to sniff.
His tail always moved excitedly when he saw me; perhaps he relished the contest as much as I did. The beast was honourable because although he had white knives in his mouth, he did not use them to break me - and break me they could have. I had seen him chew and tear through harder substances than myself. It was a match of strength.
As the moons continued, I felt my own lines start to wear, my strength beginning to wane. Though not as much as the beast. If he were in his prime, he would break me as I am now. I have grown old and weary.
Our final contest was little more than a show. The couple, clipped me onto his collar one last time and he didn't make any attempt to strain my own aching joints. We went to the place of bleached floors and clean walls.
A man I didn't recognise approached the beast, a needle in his hand, and pushed some liquid into him. It was over in moments. The beast’s head lolled to the side.
The couple unclipped me from his collar and took me away from the beast, my nemesis and friend.
Now I lie on the mantlepiece, unused and gathering dust. Every so often I see the young couple glance at me, water filling their eyes.
Once in a blue moon they will take me off the mantlepiece and cradle me before putting me back in my old place.
I had won our challenge but I am now left without purpose, and the gradual decay of my filaments is too slow for my liking. I would have liked one more contest with the beast as he was in his prime. One good lunge and I would have been finished. But it's the way I would have liked it to finish. Instead I sit here, collecting dust, no more than a physical reminder to the young couple of their departed beast.
by Robert Carrick
I spend my life in pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m a trombone and that’s just how it is. Here in the darkness of my instrument case with its plush blue lining I’m comfortable, even though it smells of stale beer.
I am the sum of my parts. My slide is in its slot in the side of the case and my mouthpiece is stowed in the compartment under my bell.
All very neat, but I wish I could get out more. The last time my owner took me out we played a show at a craft brewery called Yulli’s Brews in Alexandria. He put me together and placed me on my stand on stage left, in front of the vats and wooden beer barrels. I was in full view of the audience.
It was standing room only in front of the stage, and there were even people up on the mezzanine. It wasn’t all about me. For that gig, I had the pleasure of the company of two other brass instruments, an alto saxophone and a trumpet. It was a real horn section and when we played together, we created a wall of sound. What a buzz.
I was hoping we would play there again but then came another COVID-19 lockdown and now I’ve been in pieces for weeks. My ownerI gave Wix the dredit for pics, but yours is from where? even seems to have lost interest in taking me out for a blow. You would think he would remember to apply a little slide oil now and again. Maybe even buff me up with Brasso.
Hang on, I’m in motion. I think we’re in the back of the car. I can hear the jangle of the tambourine and the clink of beer bottles as we go over speed bumps. He’s opening the case. I can’t wait to be back in the limelight again. It’s so bright out here. He’s putting me back together and he’s even wiped clean my chrome-plated inner slide and added a few drops of Super Slick. Hey, the sax and the trumpet are here too. It must be band practice.
It would be nice if everyone could be bothered to tune up for a change. He’s putting his lips on my mouthpiece and blowing hot air down my tube to warm my cold brass. Now that’s what I call embouchure. I hope he lets some condensation out of the water key. I can’t stand gurgling on the first note. That studio manager couldn’t care less about making a mess on the carpet, since it has more stains on it than the floor of a public bar.
Wow, the band is at last in full flight and they’re rocking out. At last, he’s holding my bell up to the microphone. My moment has come. Now I'll say how I feel.
To my dear old tenor CONN.
Copyright to the SSOA authors above; photos Wix.
This SSOA emerging writers blog is made possible through a City of Sydney accommodation subsidy.