Harmonicas

Harmonicas

A Story by NoblePariah
"

It's a bit tough for me to describe stories such as these.

"

Larry slowed his pace to a jog as the toy store came into view. He just received his allowance, and wanted to get the Whee-lo in the window. It was seventy nine cents, but he had gotten three dollars for his allowance, which would still allow for him to get some candy and have some left over to spend at his leisure.

      He opened the shop's door, taking in the scent of candy, oak, and wooden toys. Walking over to Mr. Johnson, he pointed and asked for the Whee-Lo.

After paying, he walked outside and took it out of the package, sending the magnet down and around the metal side rails. He watched as it flowed like magic, elated to finally have it.

A female voice startled Larry from behind him, “Hey kid, why'd you get one of these dumb ol' things?”

“Whadya' mean dumb? These things are so cool.” He turned to face the girl and felt himself blush, the girl was taller than he was by a few inches. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail and her green eyes said she was unconvinced.

“I dunno, it looks pretty lame to me.”

“Do I even know you?”

“We go to school together, dummy...”

Larry thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers and said, “oh yeah, you're in Mrs. Kile's class right?”

“Yeah, she's the one that always smells like feet.”

Larry chuckled and looked down at his Whee-lo.

The girl followed his gaze. “Why did you get that, anyway?”

I dunno, it's neat the way it never falls off. Besides, I didn't see you get anything.

She looked down for a second before hitting Larry in the arm, “I come here all the time. I was going to get a harmonica, but I can't have them where I live.”

Ow, hey! What'd you do that for?”

Cause... it was a dumb question.”

Larry rubbed his arm. “Why don't you get one anyway? Just hide it and play outside. Your parents are dumb not to let you have it.”

Tears began forming in the girl's eyes. “My parents weren't dumb, idiot!”

Larry felt his gut clench with guilt, but he didn't think that what he had said was mean enough to make her cry. Still, he was just about to apologize, when she turned around and ran down the street, taking a corner before disappearing behind a brick building. He stood, dumbfounded for a few minutes. Suddenly, he had an idea of how he might be able to apologize, so he went back into the store.

      “Hey there, sport,” said Mr. Johnson from behind the counter. He was a young man, but he was always kind to Larry whenever he came in. “Something wrong with your Whee-lo?”

      “No, it's great, Mr. Johnson. I was just wondering about that girl who came in.”

      “Ohh, that's Laura BelMonte, she comes in every day, always looks at the same harmonica,” he said gesturing with his head, to a golden brass harmonica. “Why, do you have a little crush on her?”

      “No,” Larry said, through reddening cheeks. “We were talking and I called her parents dumb... I know it's not good to make fun of adults, but I didn't think it'd make her cry. She's kinda weird.”

      Mr. Johnson looked surprised, and said, “ohh, I think you got a little mixed up. Her parents passed on in an accident a few months back. Good folk... It was a real tragedy... She lives over at the orphanage” At the horrified look on Larry's face, he continued, “it's not your fault, kiddo. You didn't know.”

      Larry felt a lump form in his throat as he realized what he had done. An idea formed in his mind and he asked, “ say, Mr. Jonhson, how much is that harmonica?”

      “Two ninety seven, in total,” said Mr. Johnson with a smile.

      “Larry thought for a moment, then said, “I'd like to trade this in, and buy that harmonica.”

"""

      Larry smiled, whistling as he walked down the busy big city street. Today his wife, Laura, would be getting heart transplant. Diagnosed with heart disease three years earlier, her name had just moved to the top of the transplant list.

      Larry got the call at work. A suitable organ donor had just died in the hospital where his wife waited for him in anticipation. Relief prickled tears, though his eyes shone with a smile. She had been too weak to move out of bed of late and had to stay at the hospital.

He decided, in a moment of inspiration, to make a stop on his way to the hospital. A gift. Something to brighten her smile before the surgery. The doctors had assured him that the procedure had a high chance of success, which eased his mind. Despite the debt incurred, after several months of searching through specialists for the very best, they finally found them. Larry was happy to work off the fees.

      He stopped outside a vintage toy store and stared in the window with awe. It was the same one where they had met thirty seven years ago. The shop was the only bastion of old fashioned anything left amongst the crowd of skyscrapers. To his utter shock, it was still open.

Inside, oak and candle smells evoked old memories from his youth. It was just how he remembered it, with two exceptions: The man behind the counter was not Mr. Johnson, but he looked to be related to him and there were a few new scents, though they smelled more like modern day cleaning products. Larry walked over and picked up a brass harmonica, smirking.

“You play?” asked the man.

      “No, it's a gift for someone special” Placing it on the counter, Larry dug out his wallet and asked, “are you Mr. Johnson's son?”

The man behind the counter picked up the harmonica and scanned it, as he said, “I am, did you know my father?”

      “Yeah, I used to be a regular around here, in fact, I met my wife outside and got some good advice from your father on that topic.” Larry said, digging a five from his wallet and handing it to the man. “How's he doing?”

      “He's passed on now. Has been for a couple of years.”

“I'm sorry to hear that, he was a good man.”

“Thank you,” Mr. Johnson, Jr. replied, handing Larry his change.

Larry left the store after exchanging a few more pleasantries with Mr. Johnson’s son, and walked down the street towards the hospital.

      As he was about to the crosswalk, he stopped as he saw an ambulance coming, not wanting to hinder whoever it was from getting treatment. Because of this he missed the opportunity to cross, but he nervously waited for the next one, as his heart began to beat a mile a minute with excitement. Laura was going to be OK. That fact alone was enough to keep the smile on his face.

      He arrived at the hospital about twenty minutes later, anxious to see Laura, before the surgery had started. When he walked in, he saw a blur of motion as the nurses were running around the OR frantically.

With a sudden horror clenching at his gut, he tried to stop several, unsuccessfully. He ran up to the desk and asked, “What's going on?! Has Laura Smith's surgery begun?!”

      The woman behind the desk peered up and realizing who he was looked saddened, saying, “I'm so sorry sir, but her heart disease has progressed. She had a heart attack and the doctors are trying to stabilize her in the ER.”

A lump formed in his throat. “Why didn't they do the transplant?! She's at the top of the list! Can't they save her?!”

      “I'm sorry sir, she gave up her place on the list.”

      “What?! Why on Earth would she do that?! Why didn't you call me!? I'm her emergency contact!” he said, through heavy panting breaths. His whole world was closing in and he could do nothing about it. This couldn't be happening, not after he had been given so much hope.

      “We did call you, sir. It went straight to voice mail. There was an accident. A young man just arrived in an ambulance. The only thing that can save him is the heart. Your wife refused to let us give her the heart. She said that she wouldn't have that on her conscience. It was the bravest thing I've ever seen.” Standing from her chair and leaning over the table to put a hand on his shoulder. “I'll have someone take you over to the waiting room.”

      The thirty second walk to the ER waiting room felt as if it took years. Along the way, he checked his phone. The battery was dead. He could have been here sooner, but he used all the battery telling relatives the good news.

      The waiting left him not knowing what to do; for a while he sat with his head in his hands, then he switched to pacing around the empty room. Finally, he remembered the harmonica in the bag and he began to play, though he had never done so before. He heard people gathering, probably hospital staff, though none entered the room to actually listen. He played for what felt like days, simply moving the tunes in an attempt to get his feelings out through some kind of medium.

      Eventually, he saw a doctor walk through the set of double doors, and remove his mask. Though his face was still impassive. Larry stood instantly. “Well?! How is she?!” His heartbeat drowned out the man's words. But Larry didn't need to hear them... The man's solemn head shake was enough to crush the entirety of Larry's being.

His whole life, whenever anything went wrong he had her there, to put a smile on his face, to make the world seem just bright enough to bear. Now, he simply wanted to retreat into himself, to scream at the world, faulting anything and everything for the death of his love.

“I'm sorry, I know it doesn't mean much to you now, but she gave her life so a child can live.”

      “I...I need to see her, now,” Larry said, his tone sounded flat from the sheer shock of the situation.

      “Sir, I don't know...”

      “I need to see her.”

      “Ok sir, if you're sure.”

      Dreamlike, they walked through a long, seemingly never ending hallway of elongated shapes, towards the room that hid his wife. The doctor opened the door, peeked his head inside, and said something. A moment later, the nurses solemnly left the room, each giving him a look of sympathy. He barely even registered they were there.

      He entered and waited for the doctor to shut the door. A white blanket covered a figure on the bed from head to toe. Sunlight highlighted the blanketed facial features. He slowly walked over. Tears streamed freely down his face and dropped onto the blanket. He pulled back the covers to reveal her beautiful face, brushed the brown hair aside, and kissed her lightly.

      He reached into his coat pocket and put the harmonica into her folded hands. She looked peaceful, as if he could wake her up at any moment and everything would be fine. For an instant, he considered trying, but dismissed the idea.

      He glanced away as he reached for the chair behind him, but as he did so, something caught his eye. He creased his eyebrows as he recognized his wife's handwriting on a small note atop a plain brown box on the table. He picked up the note and read it. It simply read, I Love You. “I love you, too” he said out loud.

      He opened the box and sat in the chair, staring at its contents for several minutes. Inside the box was a Whee-lo. He laughed, just once, she had made him smile one last time.


© 2013 NoblePariah


Author's Note

NoblePariah
Newly furnished second draft

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Reviews

This makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time! Wonderful job! :')

Posted 5 Years Ago


Absolutely incredible write. I don't know what else to say.

Posted 6 Years Ago


NoblePariah

6 Years Ago

Thank you very much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
A wonderfully sentimental journey. Most amateur writers rely on action or suspense to captivate their readers but you used other more complicated and rewarding tools. Very well written. Although, had no idea what a Whee-lo was until I googled it... haha. Well done.

Posted 6 Years Ago


NoblePariah

6 Years Ago

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Ha, I had a Whee-lo as a kid, but I never knew what it wa.. read more
I wish I had known what a Whee-Lo was before reading the story. I googled it and think it was an awesome toy for him to choose. I would suggest a description of the toy, but it would definitely bog down such a short story.

I found one detail... In the sentence: An idea formed in his mind and he asked, “ say, Mr. Jonhson, how much is that harmonica?” the word 'say' should be capitalized.

Aside from that, all I can offer is praise.The scents you evoke make me want to go to an old fashioned toy store. If only we had one here, the last one closed years ago.

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you, I started trying to describe a Whee-lo, but it was kinda tough for me to get the right de.. read more
Hello! You recently entered this piece into my contest "What is your most powerful story," and I wanted you to know that you are a finalist! I don't know if you are going to be one of the TOP finalists (I wish I could choose more than three now!) but I wanted you to know that out of 60 people you are one of the top 12 (that means that you're REALLY good)! Congratulations!

PS. This was probably my favorite story. Fantastic job!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Again, I must thank you for your kind words and for reading, I'm very glad that you enjoyed the stor.. read more
Not bad for a first draft, remember .. story is driven by imagination, if you live it as a dream, you can have a well-realized realm

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you, but if one lives the story as a dream, real life may become convoluted and all stories ar.. read more
Khaled A Khunaifer

7 Years Ago

That's where inspiration comes into place ..
Hey there N.P., Nice first draft. I can see that it is a bit rushed. I know how it is when the story reveals itself to you as you are writing. That is the fun and exciting part of creation.The important thing is to not interupt the flow. Having said that, the next thing I need to do is Work through the editing phase. I am a novice at editing, Therefore many mistakes slip through. The great part about the review process is that other people can see things we have missed. If they point those issues out we have an opportnity to learn and grow as editors.
I like the story very much. It has a touching theme and an emotional impact. I presume that is the intent? Well Done my friend. There remains a need for more editing and proofing. One thing; I'll explain it this way: I just learned about repeated words and just wanted to say that I just need to think about that as I review my writing instead of just re-reading. Oh s**t I just did it again. Just saying that - just - is passive and just appears weak though I just wanted to make a point. Just drove that into the ground, just a bit. LOL

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you, I definitely intend to edit this at some point, it's more that every time I sit down to d.. read more
VALORMORE DE PLUME

7 Years Ago

You are entirely welcome my friend.
Oh that is an amaing write...loved it :-)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you much!
Loved this story, full of emotion actually had a bit of a lump in my throat at times.
One tiny little thing I noticed, right at the end: "It simply I Love You. “I love you, too” he said out loud." should it start with it simply said?

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you much, I'm glad you liked the story. Thanks for picking up on that, especially whereas it's.. read more
Very good for a first draft; I thought I saw a couple of mistakes--:their" when the word should have been "they're' "to" for "too". Nothing in the text; no style mistakes certainly. I was so happy when I saw your name on this; it's been months since I read any work by you. I'll check and see if there's anything else I haven't read.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


NoblePariah

7 Years Ago

Thank you, I always look forward to your input. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, I kind of rushed thro.. read more

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Added on April 3, 2013
Last Updated on October 9, 2013
Tags: sad, loss, harmonica, toys

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NoblePariah
NoblePariah

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I am a writer trying to better myself in the craft. I'm 22 and in college, pursuing a degree in creative writing. Please don't add me and send me a read request without reviewing a piece of my work. .. more..

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