It’s September again, friends. Last year, I tried to write 30 stories in 30 days for September. I succeeded in writing 30 stories … but it took me 60 days to do it! Let’s see how I do this year!
Sonny’s first choice had been trumpet. He’d known even in third grade that, when the time came the next year to pick his instrument, he would tell Mr. Glaston that he wanted to play the trumpet. He’d fallen in love with the rich, round voice of the horn listening to his father’s records, watching his father’s face every time the trumpet sounded. He’d asked his father once if he’d ever played.
“Me? Never. I had to leave school too early. No chance to learn.”
He hadn’t sounded angry or sad when he’d said it, but Sonny had felt both just thinking of the lost opportunity, of having a dream quashed before it had grown to bud.
Music lessons started in fourth grade, so Sonny knew he’d have to wait to announce his choice. He kept it like a secret that he’d give his father as a surprise, could imagine running to meet his father at the door as he came in from work, barely waiting for him to take off his hat and put down his case before blurting out his news.
When the late September selection day finally came, Sonny didn’t hesitate when old Mr. Glaston called him into the office.
“Trumpet!” he announced before the music teacher finished his question.
Mr. Glaston shook his head. “You’re too late in the alphabet, young man,” he said. “Gave out the last trumpet in the L’s. We never have trumpets left by the time we get to you T children.”
Seventy-four years later, Sonny gently fitted together the pieces of his clarinet, the one he’d bought all with his own money after his first paper route job in junior high.
“What do you have for me today?” his father asked, his voice whispery as onion skin, his eyes closed against the morning light.
Sonny pulled the reed from between his lips and slipped it into position. “An old favorite of yours,” he said. He walked to his father’s bedside and began a theme from Scheherazade, his father’s favorite classical piece. He played softly, waiting for the slight tremble of lips that told him his father was smiling before letting himself go, letting the music take him. He knew the nurses and some of the attendants and other residents would crowd around the door to listen, but he only had an audience of one, watched only for the almost-smile, for the watery glance when his father finally opened his eyes.
“I still got some wind instruments left,” Mr. Glaston told him. “You can get one of those or you can join the choir.”
Sonny looked at the half dozen flute cases on the table, the pair of tubas propped up beside Mr. Glaston’s desk. He pointed at the too-large-to-be-a-flute case on the floor by the desk. “What’s in there?”
“Oh, I must have overlooked that one. Clarinet.” He picked it up. “I could have given this to that boy in here before you. You want it?”
Sonny didn’t rush his father at the door that night to tell him about the clarinet. He stayed in his room staring at the case, wondering if he wouldn’t be better just joining the choir. He heard his father come in, heard his mother tell him about the clarinet, heard no response.
“Your mother tells me you’re going to be the musician in the family,” his father said at dinner.
“It’s just a clarinet.”
“It’s an instrument,” his father said. “You know how I love music.”
“I wanted to play the trumpet,” Sonny said. “You love the trumpet.”
His father had laughed. “I love them all, Sonny. And the clarinet can do things trumpets only dream of. I’ve got the records to prove it.”
Okay, that didn’t go exactly as I’d thought it would, but that’s I get for waiting until 11:30 to get started!
So September’s off and running. Wonder what else will show up on the page this month … I’d love to know what you think. Please leave critiques, revisions, stories of your own in the comments!