You might have noticed that the title of the book has changed. I decided Pearly needed company on her adventures. Have not updated the cover yet, but it’s on my to-do list!
It felt like The Blessed Spirits had given me my life back, so after this day, a spirit of rebellion rose in me and I decided that things had to change. It happened like this. The Old Man had strung up a new flute on my row. I could tell from the changing light what was going on. This poor flute was not happy to be strung up. He was shivering and shaking with fear as the Old Man bashed him about, threading his body and foot. As his head-joint was tied onto the wire and left to swing a big arc, he gasped at the cold, wide air in terror. I recognised his voice. ‘Yammy?’ I managed to whistle, using the excess of the gust he cast around him.
‘Pearly!’ he cried, terrified and sobbing. ‘Help me, help me, I can’t stand this.’
‘Don’t worry, Yammy,’ I assured him, ‘we’ll find a way to get out of here.’
This was a lie. If there was a way out, we would have found it by now, I thought. But then I considered again. What if I hadn’t tried my very best yet? Was there maybe a way? I thought and thought all night. How could we, together, stop the Old Man in his tracks? Without a breeze, it was not possible to call out, only to grasp tiny amounts of air with which to whisper. I was too light to be able to fight back physically. All of us flutes were too flimsy to be able to hurt a man. Fidel was too small and Clarence, though solid enough, was weak. Then I suddenly thought of that huge tuba. I could tell from his clunking how big he was. He was so big, he must also be heavy. I knew from the direction of the clunks that he was hanging quite high from the ceiling, on a level with us. Soon my plan was ready. I whispered it to Clarence on my left. Clarence squeaked it to poor Pixie to his left. Pixie squealed hoarsely to Fidel who bashed his strings on the curtain-rail thus setting the trombones off. All round the room you could hear whisperings, like a wave, like a magic force.
Then, as moonlight sent its faint rays into the room, we heard a new sound: it was a rather slow squeak, squeak…squeak, squeak. I listened with growing hope in my heart. It was the tuba swinging himself on his string. Over the course of the night, we heard the fibre after fibre of the string snapping. ‘Careful, careful,’ I sent around the room, ‘don’t snap them all: make sure you keep one thread!’
The next day The Old Man strung up a new warped viola, stopped for a coughing fit, shuffled under the tuba, raised his stick and thwacked it, hard. We heard the usual clunk, and then we all heard a much tinier sound: it was the tuba’s last string breaking. It’s like it happened in slow-motion sound. You could hear that last fraying fibre give, with a subtle snap. We all heard the tuba falling through the air. We heard that massive instrument give one last solid clunk, and we all heard the Old Man fall, groan and lie silent.
We spun around sickly in shock for a few days. I detected other human presence, people moving around, murmuring and soft exclamations. The silk threads binding us to the ceiling were snipped. Our pieces were crammed into a bag, all of us jumbled up. My core was with another flute’s head-joint and my foot-joint was rattling around inside poor Fidel’s delicate wooden body. Honestly, I didn’t know where I started nor ended. My head-joint was crammed up against Yammy’s. He was still shivering with grief and pain. I felt most odd, almost like I had died and become one with the universe. Except I knew I wasn’t dead. We were thrown all together in the back of a van. It was bumpy and dark. We were clattering about on top of one another. My core mourned my head-joint and foot-joint. My head-joint missed my core and my foot. My foot just felt kind of queasy. It’s not easy being a flute you know, especially when you have been taken apart.
On that long journey though, I came to realise some things. I remembered Lucy’s teacher, Silvia, saying to her, ‘Always think positive, Lucy. You can do it. Bar by bar.’ I wondered if there was any way I could see this latest development of my adventures in a positive light? It took a lot of thinking but I eventually started to realise that being together with all those other parts of other flutes was kind of wonderful. We had been created, all of us, to make music. At least we all shared a common purpose on this Earth. We might have been created in different years, different decades, even different centuries, but we had all been created by people who needed us to sound beautiful. And even bunged together in that smelly sack, we held it together. I could feel the others holding themselves taut, trying to hang on to their dignity. Our overriding worry was: were we being taken to the dump, to land-fill? Were we none of us ever to be played again?
I could not sense much from inside the sack. It was dark and painful, being clanked around with all the other instruments. Eventually we seemed to be inside, and were dumped on a table or bench, I didn’t know which. We were battered and worn. Nobody spoke as there was no wind, no breeze, no air even. I felt the despair of the other flutes, the pics, the clarinets, the trombones. Our despair was all muddled up with everyone else’s. We felt sick with anxiety that we would never be played again. We became aware of movement, people moving around, the bumping of things all around us that were being moved. People started opening the sack, having a rummage around in us, and then leaving it. People would pick up a bit of flute, say ‘Oh, flutes,’ and put it down again. One woman said, ‘Ooh, these are all in a bit of a state, aren’t they?’
‘Our Gerald wants em though, don’t he?’
The lady with her said, ‘Oh yeah, Gerald can make something out of anything, even old junk, you know what e’s like.’
I wondered what she meant. I thought it couldn’t be good, whatever it was. What did Gerald make out of old junk? Who was Gerald?
We found out soon enough. There were clouds of dust, crowds of people, shouting and a big hammer banging down with a yelling of ‘Going, going, gone!’ I realised that things were being sold and that soon it would be our turn. We were grabbed from the bench, held up in the air. My foot-joint was yanked out of the bag and held up. ‘A collection of damaged, mostly silver-plated musical instruments…’ said the loud man. ‘At least eleven kilos here…old metal and wood.’
As the hammer banged down, the ladies said, ‘See, I told you Gerald would want them. He’ll melt it all down and make us a massive picture frame, or candlesticks.’