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There are sentimental sorts, people who save every love note hastily jotted on a slip of paper, every memory-laden matchbook, and then there are hoarders, who throw nothing away at all, lest a rusty paperclip come in handy someday. Jordan Quinn was neither of these types, to be sure. If she hadn’t used a given item in the past week, into the trash it went. She disliked fussiness, hated clutter and was generally ill-placed in a family of nostalgic memento-savers and tchotchke-fanciers. Depending on one’s point of view, that made her either the worst or the absolute best choice to clear out her grandmother’s estate when the venerable grande dame went to her reward. Spindly with turrets and spires, the old mansion teetered precariously on a sea cliff overlooking wild and gray Maine sea swells, and was packed to the gills with dusty antiques, souvenirs and bits of Victorian arcana. Pushing open the carved, creaking front door, Jordan visibly wilted in the foyer when faced with the enormity of the task ahead of her. “What a load of junk!” she sighed, plucking several oversized umbrellas out of the elephant-footed umbrella stand by the door and pitching them into the outsized Dumpster she had obtained for the occasion. Upon consideration, she tossed the umbrella stand in as well.
Jordan’s stamina was considerable, but not unlimited, and by the late afternoon she simply had to take a break. She brewed up a pot of tea and wandered into the untouched parlor where a relic of a gramophone caught her eye. “Oh why not?” she thought “It’s quiet as a tomb in here.” Opening the cabinet, she picked up the first (wax!) disk on the stack. “’Calypso’, eh?” she muttered, fumbling with the machinery of the mystifying outdated device. As the first scratchy notes staggered out of the horn, Jordan sank onto an oversized and ornate chaise upholstered in a milk-and-dark chocolate harlequin satin. Before she could venture a single sip of tea, she was fast asleep.
Awoken by the brightness of a full moon thrusting its round face between the dusty velvet drapes, Jordan glanced over at the gramophone only to see two large fish swimming happily out of it along with the music, that was, amazingly, still playing. A large octopus had cuddled up next to her and was enjoying a cup of tea from her teapot, which was now apparently hosting a fiddler crab. Another cephalopod had taken up residence in her hat and a small Argonaut had apparently abandoned its shell in favor of her teacup. Although simply continuing to dream seemed like the best option, Jordan knew that she was not. She jumped up and removed the record and the sea life disappeared as fast as the music. At that moment, Jordan embraced the wisdom of hiring someone more knowledgeable about antiques than she to undertake the cleanup. However, she also wrapped up the gramophone and the records and took them with her lest someone become curious about what “Safari March” or “Hurricane Sonata” might sound like. As far as anyone knows, they have been sitting in her attic collecting dust ever since.

This original artwork and story are copyright Ramona Szczerba 2010. Copyright to this material is in no way transferable with the sale of this item. The buyer is not entitled to any reproduction rights – neither image nor story can be reproduced without my express written permission. Thanks!

When Ramona Szczerba (a.k.a, Winona Cookie) is not being a psychologist in private practice in San Diego,she enjoys creating whimsical children’s illustrations in watercolor, but also loves working with collage and assemblage. Her artwork and short stories have appeared in several publications including The Steampunk Bible and can be seen at Originals available – check for availability.
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  • linaji
    linajialmost 5 years ago

    fantastic Winona!

  • Mynybee
    Mynybeealmost 5 years ago

    :) spiffy work there! bravo! and thank you for sharing these stories!

    JUSTARTalmost 5 years ago

    great work

  • WonderlandGlass
    WonderlandGlassalmost 5 years ago

    Thank you for another creatively spun diversion from my too-real day! As the grateful conservator of a still-working Edison cylinder phonograph, please ask Jordan, on my behalf, to explore the hidden treasures of her gramophone’s library… there may be treasures there to be enjoyed. Thank you for sharing your brilliance. Peace

  • WinonaCookie
    WinonaCookiealmost 5 years ago

    Thanks, everyone!
    And great to hear from you Wonderland! Hope you had great holidays! Now, tell me: is it a gramophone or a phonograph, and what’s the difference?

  • JELarson
    JELarsonalmost 5 years ago

    Utterly fantastical and wonderfully bizarre! Truly great -

  • ZugArt
    ZugArtalmost 5 years ago

    Very Very Nice.

  • IWML
    IWMLalmost 5 years ago

    LOVE IT! so great. awesome dreamfeel.

  • WonderlandGlass
    WonderlandGlassalmost 5 years ago

    I am not certain, but I believe the difference is in the spelling. {Slap me} Actually, my cylinder machine has the term ‘phonograph’ on it. Most people probably think of a gramophone with a large sound horn (as you have illustrated) that plays flat discs, usually at a speed of 78 rpm. The cylinder player predates that a bit and the sound reproduction is a little less advanced… but I have always enjoyed it. My son is a drummer in a punk band named ‘Downtrodn’ and they actually used a track recorded from the Edison as the intro and postlude on one of their CDs. So nice chatting with you, Ms Cookie, as ever, you have added smiles to my day. Peace

  • Frances Perea
    Frances Pereaalmost 5 years ago

    Wonderful image & story! Love your art!

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