Underneath and Around Behind - a teaching anthology of sound based stories

Underneath and Around Behind

A teaching anthology of sound based short stories.


1- Under the snow – long ‘A’
2- Behind the curtain – ‘or’
3- Living below – long vs short ‘e’
4- Driver’s side – long vs short ‘o’
5- Reflections – ‘er’
6- The music behind – ‘c’ sound in various versions, pronounced and non

Underneath and around behind things are the two hiding places we’ll generally come across and from where these stories have unearthed themselves.

In discovering what hides inside each story pay attention to the phonetic sounds in the words. For here too we shall make discoveries, the idiosyncrasies of our language.

‘Under the snow’***
{-Found in Lainie’s journal.}

April 28th.
Waiting for the snow to thaw, waiting for the season to end.
They can’t gauge when this change will take place.
Then today I was awakened by the sun shining through my window frame.
This occasioned a ramble in the hills.
It’s been nearly eight months since I could last see the base of the tall maple trees. Today I went hunting for treasure.
My aim was to gain access to where I knew a cave had been made just before the snows arrived.
I was able quite easily to scale the mountain face I needed to, only breaking a couple of nails along the way. From the top I could see a rainbow over the horizon.
Now was the tricky part, curtailing my way down the other side to the mouth of the cave. I was shaken about making this dangerous trip but wanted to see the contents too badly to bail.
It took precisely 18 minutes to reach the entrance, it was small, and it was dark inside. I had favoured myself by bringing a torch so I was saved from the darkness and could see the treasure s I’d found.
It was a strange array in deed.
I wondered who would build such a cave?
It looked like a miscellaneous fort combined with a Christmas hideaway.
In the far corner, angled oddly, was a baby pine tree with a lopsided angel on top. Candles rested at its base – unlit of course.
In the centre of the cave was the skull of some poor animal, it weighed not very much, a fatality of the winter perhaps?
Then, most out of place of all, I saw a map that looked like Asia covering the whole right hand wall of the cave. Again there were unlit candles placed beneath it.
Had I stumbled across a native’s satanical shrine, a random planning sanctuary or just some crazy kids’ play house?
Whatever the cave really was, it really was worth the wait to see such surroundings and make the journey there and home again unscathed.
If I don’t ache too badly tomorrow I shall take Paige and Wayne and show them what I found under the snow.
If we’re feeling brave enough we might even stay overnight.

So that’s growing up Canadian, eh?
Our next tail is ever so slightly less real; gossip, from backstage at the local puppet theatre.

Behind the curtain***

Every normal theatre company will have issues. None more so than the North Shore Puppets. I am the porter of the Mortar Theatre where NSP are based. Like a fly on the wall I monitor. These are snippets of what the company had to say of their worst fourth night performance on record…
“Did you see Oriole chugging port before the curtain rose?”
“It was only water!”
“What about Orlando? Never have I seen such a boring performance.”
“Yes; that Orca in the foreground of the audience was snoring from go to woe.”
“Our narrator sounded like he was choking on spores.”
“Even the sword used in the doctor’s operation scene didn’t draw a laugh.”
“Well if the properties store provided us with more, better, armory that wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Gordon swore he saw a pack of tortoises take leave before interval.”
“Who doesn’t know an Ornithomimus isn’t a predator for crying out loud?”
“What was Oryx thinking using an oar to harvest the orchard? Could’ve used the doctor’s sword once more!”
“I thought the fortissimo of the worldly storm scene would’ve had some impact, but no…”
“Nor did the allegory of the corner port produce any affect.”
“Poor form all round – perhaps we should just go back to the properties store ourselves?”
“Don’t be such a bore. We should at least try taking the boat ashore, we forgot that tonight. The corner port didn’t have a boat; how could spectators recognize the allegory?”
“Worst company in the world.”
“No, surely not, just a little sore.”
“From the night before?” I ask them at last – orbiting the cast with my eyes. All were silent – not one poor puppet wishing to concede the truth. They then aborted the mission of making excuses for the performance’s fall from grace and left the theatre in a rather ornamental, solemn fashion to sleep and await tomorrow’s show.

Never work with animals or children – they’ll slaughter your story’s chances of capturing the audience awake. Next we’ve another fictional tale, but of a far more serious nature. If only it were that we could read our animal brothers’ minds…

Living Below***
{A weasel’s report on where home is for mountainous forestry district creatures and how it comes to be.}

Wells – we live in wells – well not all of us, the beavers don’t, they build dams, but that’s another story.
Tree wells to be exact. That’s a deep cavernous pit below the surface of a tree’s roots.
As a team we eagerly band together in the warmer months to seek out a well that caters for our families needs. We claim it and extend the inside – to create storage space and free room for sleeping. During the winter it is a necessity for us to live full time under our chosen tree.
Weasels become uneasy in the cold and without any shelter to relieve us we weaken. Safety in a harsh snowy season is imperative. Granted the warm, dry climate of these dwellings also fosters the perfect home for our fleas – but; it’s all part of the circle of life so we leave them alone, learn forgiveness and try to forget.
So you see, back to the story, while it’s warm families meet to seek a home and retrieve all the victuals we’ll need for what’s termed ‘hibernation’.
We greet each other eagerly; daughters, brothers, parents, who’ve near not seen one another for maybe a year, but then, the salutations being ephemeral, we’re quickly to work, the elders employing each team member with a task or duty:
- Gather nuts, or nut based products,
- Find berries, or likewise,
- Get us some sweet treat, honey or something…
It’s rather elementary but we set to our tasks with military like efficiency.
On our journey to finding an appropriate well we keep an eye out for somewhere we’ve not been before – to ensure safety from possible stalking predators – somewhere discrete, and by a stream or other water source is desirable as then whilst we’re working there’s a direct source of hydration.
So, ideally, we’ve established the location of our well and now the team’s our foraging. They generally do a good job, however; on occasion, the children especially, tend to bring back items that are of no use to us. Packets of peanuts, wrapped chocolate bars – weasels have no opposable thumb – what are we going to do with packaged goods?
Eventually our well’s full inside and the rooms are burrowed out. We bury our goods and then are given permission to take leave for a not negligible period of time and rejoin one another when the winter weather hits in force.
At this time we’ll secrete ourselves in these newly made homes, eat until we get severely fat and bloated and then sleep through the coldest time of the season – generally, approximately, three months. It’s imperative also that there be a source of water close by as when we first awake we needs must relieve ourselves of our bounteous feast and then we are really rather thirsty.
We’re never bothered n our wells unless some fool of a human falls and gets perilously stuck – they are such strange beings, I swear there was one who tried to take some of our food once. Frostbite overcame her quite quickly and back on went the gloves.
Other than these annoying, albeit, entertaining incidents it’s sweet dreams under our chosen tree.

There are a plethora of animals as live in wells, it’s not just weasels, there are squirrels, chipmunks etc etc… Let alone the inhabitants of rock wells, the list’s endless. Let us now diverge ourselves back to the world of silly human things…

Driver’s Side***
{A discontented father’s account of the long road home.}

Not so long really – only, feels long. The kids, Joan and Beau, they’re not the best going for a drive. They are quite obstinate and resolved in their mission to destroy the ride home for me from any vacation.
First off there’s the loading of the Toyota. Our routine conversation goes on something like this:
“Why are we going home so soon? I don’t want to go.”
“I vote not to go and stay on longer.”
“Stop moaning. Have you got your coats?”
“Got mine on.”
“Orlando borrowed mine – that ok?”
“Fine. Joan, shut the open windows, Beau pass me my phone. Right, door’s locked, let’s go.”
“Oh! Can’t we stay ‘til tomorrow?”
So I’ve my coffee in my hand, radio on, and am trying to zone out the excessively vocal interlocutors behind me.
“That’s my water bottle – give it to me!”
“Give me back my comb!”
“Swap, on three.”
“Kids, stop the constant crowing please. Let’s play spotto, hey? Tell me three things each to go on the list.”
“Blown tyre.”
“Wattle bush.”
“Idiot, where are you going to see a computer along the roadside?”
“Fine, mote.”
“Have either of you ever observed a mote out here?”
“Oh man, ok, a hole – they’re known to exist out here.”
“Good; though, rather general. But, whatever, hey? Now, play properly, go!”
They’re then ok on their own for a while. I can listen to songs on the radio with the knowledge that until they’re down to one last object…
“How do you know that was a mole? Looked like a rock.”
“You’re wrong; I know it was a mole because I saw it move.”
“Did not.”
“Did too.”
So I pull over to settle the dispute.
“Joan, could you clearly show Beau where the mole was?”
“What! Are you insinuating that I made up that I saw it?”
“No – don’t speak in that tone.”
“I got a photo of the spot, it was a rock!”
“Show me. See Dad, it’s there, silhouetted in the fold of the hill.”
“You can’t claim to see something so small as a mole in shadow that big.”
“Not talking to you anymore.”
And so the game’s over, with Joan sulking the rest of the way home. They’re quiet again and I can drive and pay them no notice.
Finally we get home; the kids are tired and just want to go to bed. So I’m left alone, to unload, and then to enjoy a good bottle of wine, well portion thereof. I thank god, as I sink low in my soft, comfy chair, that I’ve the backbone to survive a journey with those two.

No questions asked, being behind the driver is always best; the unfortunate sod in the front can’t let their attention go from the road long enough pay you too much heed. Sometimes the poor driver must just want to stick their head in a bucket of water to drown out the noise.
That’s almost where we’re off to now – we’re going under water.


Under the surface of the pool lived an urchin clam who yearned for freedom. Freedom from his inferior shell, freedom from his rocky shelf, freedom from the waters churning about him. The freedom to learn, like the oysters, to earn a future for himself.
Being as how Irving was alone in the world, an urchin, the first born and last to survive of his brothers and sisters. He now had to make his way alone and in his present situation could learn only the crafts of the seaside gutter.
Irving would’ve given the world to turn around one fine morning and have everything returned to the way it was before that awful storm.
Up on the shore looking and observing his reflection on the surface of the water was Earnest Byrnes, a young lad searching for a companion, searching for a purpose. Byrnes, in his turn, also yearned for freedom. He wished he was a bird and could just fly away – but he needed another bird with him, guiding.
On examining his reflection and seeing the stern, searching gaze that looked back at him, for a moment, he saw further, he saw what lurked under the surface. He saw Irving and the look and manner of the clam attracted him beyond words.
Earnest leant over and gently levered the creatures shell from its post, drawing it to him.
He had never before been attuned to another quite as he was when he felt the power of that small creature’s spirit in the palm of his hand. They spoke without words – reached an understanding.
Irving, for his part, knew he’d been recovered by this giant of a man (thirteen year old Master Byrnes) to learn through him all he desired.
Earnest wasn’t exactly sure what he’d found, he merely recognized the drive in him was the same.
Being curious, as children of his age perpetually are, he lifted Irving’s lid to get a look inside. What he saw was amazing. There, underneath the rustic outer casing was a brilliant pearl; no bigger than the ball bearings in his go-cart’s wheels, but undeniably a thing of beauty and value.
Irving couldn’t see inside himself of course – he needed this lad to do the searching and with rapture he heard him exclaim:
“Well, bugger me, he’s an oyster.”
Being served that ace the ‘calm’ grew bold and proud – he had just now, in an instant, learnt’ what would’ve otherwise been hiding from him all his life.
Earnest Byrnes carefully extracted his deserved prize and the tiny oyster begrudged him not. Then he laid this miracle of nature back on the ledge in the water he’d so yearned to leave and the boy walked away.
Our lives are a series of rooms, and who we are in those rooms with ads up to what our lives are. The boy and the oyster had impacted each other’s lives immeasurably in less than thirty minutes.
Young Byrnes’ exploratory thirst was rewardingly quenched and the oyster now knew himself worthy to observe and fulfill his yearning to learn with the others under that glassy turbulent surface.

So that’s one means of discovery and hiding – a life unknown – what if you were too mould your face to be exactly as you wanted – make a mask of it – the feelings, memories and experiences you could keep to yourself. You could lock behind the façade in an endless host of mystery for the public. How perfect. Or maybe not…

The music behind***

In the black of the night his saxophone plays on etching a music of sadness and splendour fascinating the darkness.
Christian took to music when an experiment of his went shockingly wrong – magic does not always work for good.
He was a shy boy, independent, but like all kids he had a penchant for experimenting, playing and creating with ‘toys’ unknown. He came across clay once in his parent’s ancient, untouched garage, he started to mould and make odd little critters and such and then an idea occurred and struck him forcibly. What if he could create a mask on himself? Use the clay to build extensions of his facial appendages, change what could be seen and disguise him from the public?
To work the lad went quickly and with surprising success. The nose, the mouth, eye sockets, his cheeks, all new, all dull, all fake. There was an old camera in the garage, Christian took a picture. And so he would remain.
He thought he’d been lucky to find the clay and camera but, for a bucket load of bad years, that’s a long time for a child, he was stuck. The disguise was impenetrable and you cannot argue or reason your way out of a dramatic change like that.
At school he was not recognised, at home he was ignored. Someone for the world to pass by, take pity on and forget this Chris became.
The years dragged on and time and his makeup face sucked the life out of everything.
Routine becomes the norm; it’s unfavourable to say the least, in a place like that. Prohibited, confined – how could anyone live in such a way?
Christian did. In himself, his place of torment. Cloistered.
He lived a secluded life in which no one really knew him, he couldn’t reveal himself.
A mask is a dangerous thing with scary consequences.
Whack yourself in this boy, becoming a man’s shoes and take a look in the mirror. You can see nothing – blankness stares back at you. It’s part of our nature, narcissism, whenever we can we sneak a peek in a looking glass, check ourselves out and so changes are observed. Christian’s mask grew as he did but the years were not displayed. He was hidden under a boyish game – a magic trick unfathomable. He couldn’t concoct an image of his former self and didn’t know what he’d become.
In an attic locked away from a world that never saw him he would create bittersweet erratic music on a saxophone that he’d uncovered beneath the beams.
He owned nothing except a couple of books, the clothes on his back and the camera that had locked his fate. He didn’t even own an identity – he would creep out and steal his food unnoticed. That made him weep.
Also found in the attic was a hammer. Christian had kept this for he knew one day he’d need it.
The day came when the man was twenty two, a decade after he’d applied his covering, he couldn’t handle being so alone anymore. He took up the hammer and cracked. His face. One strong blow and it was done and he was out.
The people below heard a crash on the floor and went to ascertain the cause.
The smack Christian gave himself left him broken and reconstructed again. He awoke in hospital to an unpretty face. Permanently altered but real. He could see his expression again.
He smiled and he cried and the magic was gone – the camera the hammer’s next victim.
Now he serenades the night in exultant celebration for catching glimpses of a person not a mask.

Underneath and Around Behind - a teaching anthology of sound based stories

  • Artist

Artist's Description

To interested parties…

A note on the text thus far;

I’ve written this almost as if it’s to be a textbook. The narrator between stories is that of a teacher, kind of. It is the sections of the text between stories.

The first story I think is simple, basic, enough, the second however; you may need to edit, but the way it’s been written is very easy for you to do so. If you’ve never been backstage after a performance, it’s very noisy with everyone talking at once and partaking in a plethora of conversations. A fly on the wall would just pick up disconnected fragments here and there, so, you can pretty much write anything that goes with the focal sound. It doesn’t have to make sense, just use your imagination to think of what the show as a whole could’ve been.

Also for story two here’s a definition you might need:
Ornithomimus (meaning ‘bird mimic’) was an ostrich-like dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period. It had a toothless beak, long legs, and hollow bones.

Where ‘tail’ is written as such it is an intentional error, a reference to the next story.

Each story uses different letter combinations to make the focal sound and both pronounced and unpronounced versions of said combinations.

When reading these it is with the phonetic effect of an Australian, not an English accent.

Lainie is a real name; she was one of the Creekside gondola liftys when this anthology was composed.

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