December 31, 2008

Last post for 2008!

     ....I think. :)  Hannah Rose at Waiting Rose had a story contest this past month, so I decided to stick my neck out and enter.  Whoops!  Well, I won.  Thank you Rose!  So, here it is.  Happy New year everyone!

The Hidden Violin

Jacob was breathless when he reached his room. “Why does having a lame foot have to be so hard?” his mind lamented. His room was on the third floor, so it was a lot of work to get up all the stairs with his cane. Jacob was not an orphan, but neither of his parents were home. His mother died when he was 3 years old, and at the age of six his father had moved to Spain for his business. Jacob could not go because of his foot, or at least that is what everybody told him. He lived with his aunt and uncle in the outskirts of Grandy, North Carolina. There he went to school and had lived all of his life. He was treated as one of the family, and loved all of his little cousins. He was fourteen, and the oldest, so all of his cousins looked up to him as a big brother. He did not look anything like his cousins, or his aunt and uncle for that mother. They, as well as his Dad had sandy brown hair and hazel eyes, while he had jet black hair, and “sky blue” eyes. He always wondered about his mother’s family, but no one wanted to talk about it.

At the age of seven Jacob had begged to play the violin. He was fascinated with the violin and loved music. His uncle Tim thought it was great, but aunt Lily wasn’t so sure. Jacob had overheard one of their conversations.

“Tim! You know what my brother said, he does not want the kid to play music. Especially the violin, you know why.”

“But Lily, it is probably just a kid thing, he will grow out of it. Just let him try.”

“He won’t grow out of it! The child loves music.”

“Come on, at least it will give him something to do while his friends play sports; that foot will never get better.”

So, he started the violin. He was a fast learner, and when his aunt was going to take him out of lessons, he would beg to do it just a little bit more. Even though she knew her brother over in Spain would command it to stop, she always relented and let him go on. She was secretly very happy about it, and hoped that when James Patten finally did come home, his broken heart would have healed and he would enjoy it along with everyone else.

Seven years later, Jacob was still taking lessons, and he was very accomplished for his age. He had already played at many concerts and would have been first chair in the orchestra if his Aunt Lily hadn’t intervened. But he didn’t mind; his foot wasn’t strong, and it probably would have given him a lot of trouble during those long practices. He knew that his aunt knew what was best.

When Jacob came back from his reverie, he rubbed his foot. It had been feeling better lately. Maybe he could go to his father’s mansion tomorrow. It would be Saturday, and his uncle had been promising to bring him for a while. They would have to get some hired help to clean it out and open it up. Father would be home for his fifteenth birthday, only days away… in fact.. 10 days away. Wow! They had so much to do! He also had to pick some music for the upcoming concert. He also was in the habit of practicing three hours a day.

“Let’s see,” he mused, My Dad will be here for the concert. I hope he doesn’t mind.” The words of his aunt from years ago came back.. “he doesn’t want him learning music, especially the violin…” Why would he want that? Uncle Tim said he loved music.


James got on the plane at 2:00p.m. sharp, just like everything else he did. He had a week of business in Boston, then he would ride down to Grandy. As he leaned back on the seat, he mind drifted home. He was there last three years ago, but a difficulty arose, and he only stayed one night. What would Jacob be like now? Almost 15, he would be taking drivers ed soon. Would still have sky blue eyes like his mother? Of course he would; you can’t change eye color. He looked just like Fanny. Everything about him was just like Fanny: his character, his looks, maybe even her talent. Had he done wrong in forbidding music lessons? After all, he could not play sports like I did. James thought and tried to go to sleep. Sleep did not come. If I had let him have lessons, would he have become famous like his mother? But no, I was too hurt by losing her to ever look at her precious violin, or any violin, ever again. I had it all put in the attic.. Finally he fell asleep as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean.


On Saturday morning, Jacob talked his Uncle Tim.

“Uncle Tim, do you think we could go down to the mansion today?” he asked while shoveling his breakfast into his mouth. Uncle Tim thought about it.

“Sure, I mean, today is as good as any day, and we have just over a week till your Dad comes.” He took a drink of coffee. “Let’s head over there right after lunch.”

“O.K. I’ll be ready,” Jacob said.

Soon after they left, Aunt Lily smacked her forehead. The attic! I forgot to warn Tim not to let Jacob in the attic!


As James Patten walked through the terminal to baggage claim, his mind was on home. What if he came home to stay? He wasn’t needed in Cusco anymore, or in Madrid. Maybe he should just work in the U.S. now? Maybe he should retire early?


Jacob hobbled up the steps of his father’s three story brick mansion to his childhood bedroom. It still had many of the furniture it did before he left it. But there was something missing. Where was his old photo album? His baseball card collection was missing too. Maybe they were in the attic? He would go find out. He had never been to the attic, but it took only a few minutes to find the entrance. His cane clumped as it went up the steps. The door stuck when he tried it, so he pushed harder. All of a sudden, it gave way. Jacob landed on the floor in a cloud of dust. He coughed.

“Are you all right?” he heard his uncle yell from the second floor.

“Yeah, I just fell; I’m fine. Really.” he said. Then he propped himself up and looked around.


James fiddled his way through Saturday morning. Finally he decided to order a sandwich and sit in the park. The birds sang beautifully, almost like Fanny. Why must I think about that now? Getting home as soon as possible would be the best thing for him, but he didn’t know it. He wanted the past to stay in the past, but it was the past that kept him away so long.


The attic was extremely dusty, and where light streamed through the sun-lights on the roof, it illuminated the dust and made the attic full of thick shafts of dusty sun-streaked air. The air was heavy and rather warm, but not quite stuffy. Jacob stood still for a while, then dug in. There was so much stuff here! If he was ever going to find his old baseball cards, he would have to start immediately. After looking through a couple of boxes, he noticed a green trunk in the corner.

It was a very handsome trunk, so Jacob decided to go take a look. He removed the boxes that were sitting on top and dragged it over to the moth-eaten, overstuffed chair by the door. If he didn’t sit down, his foot would give him trouble the next day. He fiddled with the brass lock. Then he slowly opened the lid. Inside there was a bunch of old photos. Jacob picked one up. There was a lady with jet black hair and sky blue eyes in every one of them. She always had a smile on. In some there was a baby, and in others, there was his Dad. Suddenly it dawned on him: this was his mom’s trunk.

Jacob dug deeper and deeper. There were letters, more photos, and a notebook. Jacob opened the notebook and just stared. There on the pages were hundreds of staffs with all sorts of music on them. There was no composer’s name of the music, so Jacob picked it up and studied it. He had never seen it before. It was most definitely violin music, but it was not like Bach, Mozart or Teleman. No, this was different. It was getting dark in the attic, so Jacob could not read more. Suddenly, he realized how late it was getting. He tucked the notebook under his arm and stuck his hand in the trunk to grab a hand full of photos. Instead of photos, his hand hit something hard. What was that? He felt around and found a handle of some sort. he grabbed the handle and pulled.


James’ mind wandered over old memories of home as he got in a taxi headed for the airport. He would get home a day or two early, but everything was done in Boston. His flight arrived at 5:00p.m. in Raleigh, then he would take a hotel that night. He would go to church and have lunch with a friend, then drive to Grandy. Everything was a day early, but he didn’t mind.


Jacob gasped. It was a violin case. He grabbed the notebook and the case and hobbled down the stairs with his cane. When he got to the kitchen, he was sore. Uncle Tim was there eating his dinner.

“Look what I’ve found!” Jacob exclaimed. His uncle looked up. He didn’t seem the least bit surprised.

“So, you finally found it.”

“What do you mean?” Jacob asked.

“That was your Mom’s violin,” Uncle Tim said.

“My Mom played the violin?” Jacob was shocked. Then Jacob started eating and Uncle Tim told the whole story.

Jacob’s mother, Fanny, was a virtuoso--a famous violinist. She even wrote her own music. That was what the notebook was part of. After she died, Jacob’s father, James, put everything in the attic and never looked at a violin. He was so sad he even wanted to prevent Jacob from learning of it.

“So, as it turns out, you not only look just like her, but you got her talent too,” said Uncle Tim.

The next day, Jacob practiced constantly, he felt as if he was in a dream. He found the favorite composition of his mother, and chose it for his concert piece. At the last minute, he grabbed his mother’s violin and left his.


James pulled into the driveway of his sister’s home, then noticed that all the lights were off. He took his spare key and let himself in. There was certainly no one home. He chanced to glance at the calendar on the kitchen wall and saw the notation: Mattel Theater--6:30, marked on today’s date. He hopped in the car and started driving. It was 6:27.

James pulled into the parking lot and ran into the building. To his surprise, this was a student concert. Since when did Lily and Time take their family to student concerts? As he walked in, he heard a violin tuning. He was about to walk out, but decided that it was about time he faced the past. “But,” he thought, “It won’t be anything like Fanny’s playing. It will be a student piece.”


This was it. He had practiced all day, and it was about to pay off. Jacob pulled the bow across the strings and started one his mother’s songs.

When James found a seat, he listened. Where had he heard this before? This was Fanny’s song! Who was playing this anyway? He squinted at the stage then gripped his seat. Could it be? Was it? Could it be Jacob? Yes! It was. James knew those eyes anywhere. Jacob was playing Fanny’s song. As tears fell down James’ cheeks, loads of regret fell off his shoulders.

Jacob finished perfectly and got a standing ovation. If only his Dad could be here. Would he be proud? Would he be angry? Jacob didn’t wait long. After many handshakes, Jacob hobbled out to meet his “family”. They ran to him. Everyone gave him a hug, then told him his father had been there the whole time. Jacob dropped his cane and ran as fast he could with a lame foot and hugged his Dad. James gave him a tearful hug and congratulations.

“Yes,” he sighed, “this is something worth staying for.”

    Sorry.  In my copying and pasting the indents got lost. :-)

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  1. I read it on her blog. It was fabulous!

  2. Congratulations, Joanna! What a wonderful story. You are a very talented writer!

  3. I just found this from your Mom's blog, and I think it is a very well-written, creative piece of work! Congratulations on your win. I, of course, haven't read any of the other entries, but it isn't very hard at all to see why you won! There's a challenge every November, called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month), that my mom, who is about your mother's age, successfully completed this past November. It involved writing a 50,000+ (I think?) word novel in one month. I don't know if you have ever heard of it, but it sounds interesting if you should decide to take your considerable writing talents any further.

    Again, kudos to you for this short story!

  4. Great job, Joanna! Congratulations on winning the contest!