Once Upon a Stradivarius

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
How often do our thoughts become our reality or does our reality impact our thoughts?

Submitted: July 15, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 15, 2011



Tom cradled the violin gently in his lap and traced the ancient tailpiece with one finger while staring out at the pond. A red-haired girl, maybe about twelve, ran past and sent a tiny frog leaping from the shore to the safety of deep water.  Tom watched the little creature, barely out of its pollywog phase, and envied that it was just beginning its life.

Ignoring the pain in his arthritic wrist, he stroked the instrument that he had carried with him since joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra nearly fifty years before.  

“We’ve been through a lot together,” he whispered.

He had decided to become a classical musician in junior high, a time when neither of his parents believed he would take it seriously. Tom smiled at the memory of that first violin which, no matter how many times it was tuned, always skewed the C low. By high school, his parents had finally realized how serious he was and had purchased a custom violin from the music store on 5th Street.

Tom leaned down to pick up a poorly aimed Frisbee but decided his back was sore enough already. Besides, his swollen wrist probably couldn’t have thrown it more than a few feet. 

The young frog watched with curious yellow eyes as Tom instinctively protected the violin when a boy in a red tee shirt gave him a weird look before grabbing his Frisbee and running off.

Julliard had been an amazing experience. Neither Tom nor his parents had expected him to be the top student, not just of his class but of the entire decade. He remembered the trophy and wondered if he could even find it in his dusty attic. It was also at Julliard that his parents had somehow scraped up enough money to purchase a beautiful instrument with a gleaming black body that could sing almost as well as his Stradivarius. If only he had learned martial arts a few years earlier, he might not have had to smash that Strad-copy over the head of a hoodlum while walking home one night.

Flexing his arthritic hands, he wondered how much good his black belt in Ninjutsu would do him now. In the twilight of his years, it almost didn’t seem to matter.

He closed his eyes and ran his thumbnail across the violin strings. The notes were as clear and beautiful as they had been that first week at The Symphony. He could still hear the raucous clapping as the audience rose to its feet to watch him perform a Beethovenic solo…while also playing the harmonica. Even the conductor had stopped to watch—

“What are you doing, Tom?”

Tom opened his eyes to see a skinny blond boy with severe acne approaching.

“I told you to leave it alone!” The blond boy snatched up the violin and stuffed it into the cloth case beside the bench.

“That’s no way to talk to Boston’s finest violiner,” Tom said.

“We’re called violinists not violiners, you idiot,” the boy quipped. “And if you touch this again I’m going to tell your mom. “

“No respect for your elders,” Tom announced getting to his feet. His aches and pains were suddenly fading away.

“The bell just rang,” the blond boy said. 

Knowing he’d already been late twice this quarter, Tom raced toward homeroom. Along the way, he scooped up a rolling basketball and tossed it…to a past teammate who had been kicked out of the NBA for drinking too much Red Bull.

“Lebron called last night,” Tom said. “He’s refusing to play unless I sign on with his team.”


The End

© Copyright 2017 Tim Greaton. All rights reserved.

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