The Harp

Follow a boy's journey to play a harp.

Follow a boy’s journey to play a harp.

Sam Vargas, Creative Writing

This short story is inspired by The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Jimmy was walking to school that crisp fall evening. It was the first  of October, the beginning of his favorite month. He loved the orange  leaves, the smell of pumpkin pie, and the nice sweater weather that
was apparent everywhere he walked. It wasn’t cold enough to snow, but  it wasn’t hot enough to sweat. It was perfect. He walked towards his  school, which was only five blocks from his house.

Once he arrived, he  walked into his eighth grade homeroom class and sat next to his  friends, Karl and Luke.

“Hey Jimmy! Happy October!” yelled Luke.

Luke was always the energetic one, even if it was a Monday morning.

“Luke. Please. Keep it down. I have this raging migraine,” snapped Karl.

Karl was always serious and focused on his work.

Between Luke and Karl, they were the perfect balance for each other.
They knew they relied on each other and were always together. Their
friendship started the instant they were born. Their families lived
next to each other and were great friends. Luke and Karl were attached
to the hip. However, this often made Jimmy feel lonely.

“Haha, thanks Luke! And calm yourself, Karl,” joked Jimmy. He sat down
next to Luke. Karl seemed too tired to talk to this morning. “So
what’s up?”

“Not much. Apparently Mrs. Parker is planning some huge announcement
this morning. If you ask me, it’s probably some lame stunt to make
this year ‘fun’. Nothing more than some boring routine she will make
us go through.”

At the thought of something out of the ordinary, Jimmy instantly
became excited. He didn’t want to show it in front of his friends, but
he was in desperate need of something different in his life. Everyday
was the same exact routine: wake up, eat, go to school, homework, eat,
shower, sleep. Over and over again. He needed something – anything –
exciting.

The bell rang, which signaled the beginning of the school day. Mrs.
Parker walked up to the front of the class and everyone fell silent.
She carried a large personality, which wasn’t hard for her large body.
“Okay class. Good morning! Settle down, settle down.” Even though
nobody was talking. “I have a very special announcement!” Everyone
groaned. “Now I know how much you guys love music, right?” No one
liked music class. “Well at the end of the month… we… are… going
to have a Halloween recital!” No one said a word. All the eighth
graders just stared at her, dumbfounded. If looks could speak, theirs
would say, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’

Jimmy took this even worse. He expected something exciting and exhilarating.
He had no idea how to play any musical instrument whatsoever! He put his
head on his desk and groaned to himself, ‘Good thing no one cares
about this recital.’

Unfortunately for him, as the days went by, all the kids signed up for
the instruments they played, and became a little bit more excited for
the recital. It was a chance for them to show off their skills and
amazing talents. People could play all kinds of instruments: the
guitar, piano, flute, violin, and drums. The excitement for the
recital was getting to everyone! Mrs. Parker had actually thought of
something fun and interesting for the grade. However, even more
unfortunate for Jimmy, he was the only one who hadn’t signed up for an
instrument yet. And it was now the twenty fourth of October with the
recital was scheduled for the thirty first.

“I have no idea what to do for the recital!” Jimmy exclaimed to Luke and Karl.

“The violin? That’s always a classy instrument,” said Luke.

“Yeah, like he’s going to figure out how to play that in a week. Sign up
for the recorder!” advised Karl.

“The recorder is lame. At least learn the harmonica,” rebuked Luke.

“The bagpipes?”

“No, the piano.”

“The oboe.”

“The kazoo.”

“The whistle.”

“The triangle.”

“The cymbal.”

“The harp.”

“The cello.”

“The-”

“YES! I’LL DO THAT INSTRUMENT!” Jimmy shouted excitedly.

“The cello? I was kind of joking, that’s pretty difficu-”

“No no no not that. The harp! That seems like such a simple
instrument! I can definitely learn that in a week,” stated Jimmy,
interrupting Karl.

“Hahaha, I win,” Luke bragged to Karl.

“Thanks guys! Now I have to go home and start learning!” Jimmy signed
up for the harp and started walking back home. However, on his way, he
realized that he didn’t even own a harp! He walked into his room and
opened his laptop. ‘I have to find a cheap place to find a harp in
this town!’ he thought. He scrolled through Google and all of the
shopping items, but they were way too expensive for him. Two hours
passed when Jimmy decided to just give up. He was about to close his
laptop for the day, but something caught his eye.

“Free harp! Just print out these directions and we’ll give you a nice
new harp!” Attached was a picture of said instrument. It was golden
and clean. It was big and solid.

But most importantly, it was free.

That was all that mattered to Jimmy. He looked at the clock. Five
o’clock in the afternoon. He had enough time to get the harp. He had
to hurry, just in case someone else wanted it. He printed out the
directions and ran out the door. He looked over the paper with
instructions. It said to start at Burdick Park. That was only  eight
blocks from his house. He headed towards his future harp. As he was
walking, he looked over the directions. As he tried to make sense of
it, he realized something strange.

The directions told him to go into the park for the harp.

It was a strange place to be holding a free harp, but he was
desperate. He had no time to realize how suspicious this was. He
walked into the park and followed the directions.

“Go to Freeman Statue.” He walked to the statue.

“Walk 90 steps North.” He walked 90 steps.

“Go towards the palm tree.” He walked towards it.

“Jump up 2 times.” Jimmy smiled and followed the funny directions.

“Go walk 20 steps east.” He walked.

“Look left and walk towards the cabin.” Jimmy frowned. There was no
cabin in the park. He basically walked around the park and didn’t even
notice one. Nonetheless, he looked left and to his surprise, was a
wooden cabin. It was sheltered under the trees and you could barely
see it.

‘Huh,’ thought Jimmy, ‘maybe I never noticed it because it was so dark.’

The directions told him to go inside. He walked towards the cabin. The
wind blew in the park. It was beginning to chill. Orange leaves blew
past him as he neared the cabin where the harp was being held. His
hand went towards the golden doorknob and grabbed it. He twisted the
cold knob and pushed the door. It creaked open. Light shone through
the empty cabin. Nothing was there.

Except, of course, for the golden harp. His search was over. He could
finally do well in school for the recital! Jimmy ran towards the harp
to play some chords. The floorboards creaked underneath him, but his
excitement to touch the golden harp overwhelmed his senses. He was
about to touch the harp for the first time, when he felt a cold hand
on his shoulder. He turned and screamed at what he saw.

And then he was silenced.