‘How could you lose a great big ting like dat’, Grandad said, when I told him, my Cello was gone. It was a full size. A precious instrument I had toiled over since I was four years old. Moving up quarters as I grew in stature. There were several periods when the Cello was bigger than me, struggling to straddle its mighty girth with my scrawny pins the challenge. Many were the times in those hard painful years I would cheerfully have given the thing away. But now I pined its loss. I often contemplated shoving the bow where the sun didn’t shine or up the arse of the teacher that made me play the scales over and over again until she was satisfied I was playing by ear. ‘Me name’s not Van Gough’ I used to mutter under my breath, remembering that he had a good ear for art.
My father was a brilliant musician, played everything he picked up, even the Harp. I wanted to play the Harp but no such luxury at our school. The teacher had remarked ‘Imagine trying to hump a harp around.’ The Cello was bad enough. Ignoramuses would shout, ‘that’s a big guitar’ and laugh their heads off as if they had invented the best joke, never heard by the likes of me before. Peasants, I would snort, so up myself I was.
I arrogantly believed even at 4 that if my Daddy could play anything so could I. I simply needed to put the bow in my hand to hear the instrument sing. When, however, no more than a squeak spat forth on my first draw, it was nothing to do with me. I threw the bow skyward in disgust, but a clip around the ear, stinging and red soon saw me picking it up and returning to my stool to try again. I was mad now, angry as a lobster in a boiling pot. I’ll show you Mrs. It was exactly the response she wanted. Teachers sometimes have to be cruel to be smart.
Mastering the first finger position was a little triumph and the hundreds of hours of lessons and practice finally allowed me to tune the glorious baritone sounds of the weeping Cello. It had always haunted me. Notes that wrapped their bony fingers right around your heart and tugged til it hurt. Elgar was my favourite. Autumnal romantic waves rose and fell in the air, and imaginary tears flowed from my eyes; as I leapt back in time, to sit in fields of lavender while pretty leaves fell about me. No one was ever present when I played, not even in a room full of eager school mates and family. My sister would tease me mercilessly over the contortions of my face. She would often wake me up from my sleep at night peering over me with a ‘strained’ expression. Prodding me til I woke and laughing so hard she could not hold her frame for more than a mere second as a bleary eyed me tried to focus on her latest mockery. If I had not loved her so she may have been on the list of bow recipients for ‘pogue mahone’
Everyone knew me as Sophie the Cello, I tried to educate them into calling me a Cellist, but it was like trying to nail jelly to the wall. No culture at all. I was proud of my skill, and secretly loved the stares as I carried the great big case around with me. Covered in trendy muso stickers, everyone did it. Standing at stations was the best. I often pondered whipping it out for a few coins. I dreamed of escaping in that case sometimes like Timothy Dalton in a Bond movie, rescuing the heroine as they glided over moguls and great stretches of snow to escape the baddies. At home I would drift to these silly scenes when I should have been practicing Paginini’s Caprice, a very, very difficult piece for violin, let alone the Cello.
During one of these dreamscapes whilst waiting for a train, I slipped into a light sleep. Those awful moments when a dropping head returns you to life, and a dribble slides across the chin. Wiping it away with my inner elbow, embarrassed, I tried to remain composed. It was then I noticed my Cello was gone. I stared at the empty space like a fool. I even looked under the seat where I knew it would never have fitted, impossibly big for the gap. I jumped up; perhaps I did not bring it I secretly hoped. Oh God, where is it. I ran along the platform, begging strangers with my face, my Cello face. Where was it? Who would do such a thing, someone must have seen. Please help me.
Just then a black shadow caught my eye, a man on the opposite side of the station had ‘MY’ instrument. He waggled it at me tauntingly!! I fled to the stairs, falling, tripping, and tumbling to get there. Arms flailing and me screaming, I shouted Wait! Wait! Clacking my high heels down the stairs I ran, only to see the middle car swallow him whole.
I banged on the doors, waved at the guards as the thing pulled out. He’s got my Cello!! But no-one cared. No one came to my aid.
I walked to the concert, head hanging low, puzzled, bemused, shocked. I had lost a limb. Or my voice I suppose. I was of no use to the Orchestra. So I headed on past the hall and walked all the way to Grandad’s house. Broken.
A challenge by Cathal I loved his piece. So he told me to write something about my Cello being stolen.
More used to academic writing, I struggle with creative stuff, but am willing to practice, practice, practice.