I’ve just posted a short story eBook on my online store, and I wanted to give you the chance to read the first part on my blog! The story is complemented well by eight full-color illustrations by nikitagarets from fiverr.com.
So, without further ado, let’s meet Lara….
Sitting on her father’s shoulders, Lara could see right to the stage. Levi stood there, drumsticks crossed, ready to tap it out. The singer raised his fist in the air, and her brother’s sticks flew, 1, 2, 3.
Then he slammed on the snare, one beat, and the bass and the guitar entered, loud and furious. Sixteen beats, and Brennan, the singer, drew close to the mike, smiled and sang.
Lara had the song memorized and started singing along, moving her head from side to side. There was the bridge, then back to the chorus, and the song ended slowly and softly, a huge contrast to the way they had started.
That was how they did things, her brother’s band. Lara always called Levi weird. Her parents called it talented, along with some other stuff she didn’t really understand: great musicality, unmatched sense of internal rhythm, and so on and so on. But he had formed this band, and now they were famous, and it was pretty cool.
She had just discovered her own voice and loved to sing while she was at home. It didn’t matter what, just whatever she could think of was what she belted out. Right before coming, Lara had sung the national anthem, mangling the top note. Her parents once again said words the girl didn’t really understand: her range needed some help. Lara just shrugged. Her mother suggested voice lessons. Maybe she could do that. She loved Brennan’s voice. Maybe she could be like that. Only less manly. Actually, not manly at all, since she was a girl.
Yeah. But I’ll be better than him. Girls can sing better than boys. But I still like his voice. And he’s so cute. That helps.
She was distracted from her thoughts by the movements on stage. Levi slung a deep brown leather strap attached to an old marching snare over his head; Brennan brought out his acoustic guitar; the bassist, Roy, picked up his harmonica; and the guitarist, Matthew, set aside his instrument to sing. Matthew had a real nice voice, too. Then, they walked out onto the stage’s left ramp and stood ready to play.
Applause scattered around the arena and fans yelled. Something was about to happen – they could feel it. The little girl looked around. She and her father stood in the middle of the floor in front of the stage, eager young fans surrounding them. The massive ceiling made her feel small. Speakers towered over her. Lights flashed. Everyone was on their feet, even up in the second level. She saw two girls standing near her jumping up and down and screaming in excitement.
Lara shook her head and rolled her eyes, her usual reaction to the crowd’s enthusiasm. She didn’t know why they always screamed so much. Why make such a big deal over her brother and the other three members of the band – all “her guys” – who came to her house for jam sessions? She shrugged. Her dad was laughing. The reaction to the band never failed to make him laugh.
Then they started playing “Sandbox,” her absolute favorite song, and the crowd grew silent. Matthew’s rich voice filled the vast venue. She closed her eyes and began singing softly to herself.
Buried in the sand
Is a treasure trove of thoughts
I hide them and I keep them
Safe in my wooden box.
Suddenly, Lara heard murmurs and shuffles of feet. She opened her eyes. The people all around her were moving, yet her father kept his feet planted. The crowd made a pathway as security guards led the way for her guys to walk through the crowd as they performed.
I conceal what I know
Never shall it all be seen.
This is the lie that I believe
As I dig alone, for me.
She watched them come nearer and stop in front of her and her father.
The security guards kept the floor around them open, and the band formed a small semi-circle of singers and instruments; it was her own private concert, just like at home. She looked down at her father. He was beaming. She looked back toward the band.
Because you come along
And I let you in
You find the hidden treasure
That so long obscured has been.
The spotlight lit up the band and Lara’s shining face. She squinted a little. Just outside the light, she was aware of mouths hanging open, grins, people swaying to the music, hands holding phones to take pictures. Behind her father were a few fans who leaned to see what was going on.
Yet, as they did in the kitchen, the entire band was playing only for her. Matthew serenaded her, Roy’s eyes were bright as he waited for his cue to play the harmonica, Brennan winked at her as he picked, and Levi’s face beamed. He softly stroked the snare, grinning at Lara’s shock and delight.
Must I voice those words?
Oh, the tears for them, you’ve shed
You’ve seen my treasure of great joy
The instruments faded away and Matthew closed his eyes as he sang the final line in a whisper.
Do they need to be said?
He closed his eyes and dropped his head. Lara clasped her hands together and held them to her heart. Then, along with her thousands of fellow audience members, she clapped wildly and cheered. In the middle of it all, Brennan ran up to give the girl his pick, blowing a kiss at her, the roar in the arena thundering even louder at the gesture. Her brother followed him and gave her his stick, winking with a sly grin.
Lara knew why he gave her such a look. She had a dozen picks and drum sticks at home. She could play with one any time she wanted.
But she looked back up to thank him anyway and held out a thumb, index finger and pinky.
He returned it.
The crowd erupted again, and some fans near the top rows began chanting the band’s name as the musicians ran back on stage, racing into the next piece. Brennan returned to the microphone, Levi to his drum set, Roy to his bass and Matthew to his guitar.
Lara looked down at the pick to see her name inscribed on it. Then, she gazed at the stick, which the entire band had signed. They again had inscribed her name and added “Treasure Trove of Thoughts,” her favorite phrase from the song.
Her mouth dropped open. She looked back up toward the stage where her brother was now focused on the music.
“Here,” her father yelled up to her, “do you want me to hold those for you?”
Lara handed them down, and he put the pick in his front jeans pocket and held the stick at his side, twirling it mindlessly between his fingers.
Best birthday ever, the new eight-year-old thought dreamily, as she put her chin in her hands and leaned with her elbows on top of her dad’s head.
“Ouch!” he exclaimed.
“Sorry, Daddy!” She recoiled, almost falling off, but he caught her, and leaned forward to put her back upright.
“How was it?”
Her mother yelled from the living room as soon as they walked into the house. Holding a book in her hand, she leaned in to the hallway to hear all about it.
As she hung her coat and scarf, Lara couldn’t stop gushing about her favorite song and the surprise from the band.
She wouldn’t be able to see Levi again until a few days from now, when the band finished their tour with a visit to a city a few hours away. They would all then return home for Christmas. But she didn’t hesitate to text him with her mother’s phone.
“THAT WAS AMAZING!!!” she typed slowly. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!”
Levi replied, “You’re welcome : – ) Hope you like the stick” along with a selfie he had taken in front of the other smiling band members, giving a thumbs up.
Lara fell asleep that night smiling.
The next morning, her mother showed Lara official pictures from the concert, fantastic images of Levi giving his sister the drum stick and their good-bye gestures. The drummer had sent them via email, promising to print them out and frame them. Impatient, her mother immediately printed them out and pinned them on the bulletin board in the hallway so the pictures were visible to any house guests coming over to watch sports with her husband.
When Levi came home for Christmas, Lara couldn’t wait to give him his present. Somehow, her parents held her back so that she wouldn’t give secrets away too soon.
At last, it was time for him to open it. When he saw it, one corner of his mouth crept up. He looked at her, let his crazy grin spread across his face and then turned the gift around to show the family.
She had used her best crayons to draw a picture of the guys playing in front of her. The semi-circle, the crowd, the harmonica, the winks, the hand gestures were all there. Her mother had made sure the artist signed the drawing and had taken it to be framed so the band could hang it up.
And then came the best part of all. While Lara knew deep down and had been told a million times that she was supposed to believe giving was more promising than receiving, she still loved receiving presents more. The bigger the better.
As Levi explained what her gift was, she knew this one was going to be big.
We’re playing a gig here in town, our manager just booked it as a surprise. For the hometown crowd. The only people who are really going to know about it are family and friends here in town. We’re keeping it secret until after the concert. The day after the concert, the rest of the country will know, and they’re going to be jealous.
The little girl giggled.
But, since it’s a small event, I thought – and Mom and Dad say it’s okay – that you could do something with us. And since you like to sing, my Christmas present to you is that you’re going to be the one to sing “Sandbox” during the concert.
Lara sat stunned. Then she leaped forward into her brother’s arms. She didn’t say a word and gave not even a nod. She didn’t have to. He already knew.
The concert was in June, so she had to keep it a secret for a long time. Her parents listened patiently to her excitement as Lara rushed around the house after school, almost every day exclaiming and singing and practicing. They had given her a long lecture about how no one could find out about the concert, so by necessity, she let it all out at home.
But on the last day of school, she finally couldn’t take it anymore. “I have a secret!” she told her three best friends.
“What is it? What is it?” they asked impatiently.
“I can’t tell you, it’s a secret! I’ll tell you what it was later.”
One of the girls told her mother, who was curious enough what the secret was, especially knowing the secret-holder and to whom she was related, to call up one of her best pals, who was a friend of Brennan’s mother, who didn’t know either what the secret could be but said she would call up her son. He didn’t say a word, so she called the band’s manager, who was single and had always had an interest in the woman.
Unfortunately, Brennan’s mother was intensely wrapped up in sharing her life on the Internet. Her blog post about the secret delighted her thousands of social media followers, an audience that adored her son’s band…..
I hope you enjoyed the beginning of this story! To read the rest, visit “The Quiet of Sound.”