Violin for Timothy
During this dull winter afternoon the young boys heard the
distant familiar clanging of the large iron school bell, and many of them felt
their hearts lighten considerably. The sound was followed by a hasty scraping
of wooden chairs and the shuffling of many feet, as they hurried towards the exits.
The square brick school building looked quite peaceful on the outside, until the
doors burst open, ushering a colourful mass of students on the grounds; the all
boys school stood now quite empty and desolate, weeping silently perhaps, crying
itself to sleep waiting for the next school day to arrive and release the old
walls from their isolation.
Only one young Neopet slouched slowly towards
the gates, carrying a brown leather briefcase and wearing a brown cap on top
of his black hair. He hesitated at the border of the barred gates, pondering
whether he should cross into the other world, the one that separated him from
school. The young shadow Gelert stood balancing on tiptoes, as if preparing
to take a huge dive. Indeed he inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and set one foot
on the grey sidewalk pavement. He opened one eye, grinned to himself and walked
resolutely out of the school grounds, balancing his briefcase, held limply in
Anyone who had been watching would have found
this odd beyond words, and many rumours circulated implying the young Gelert
was touched in the head. He was often found conversing deeply, waving his arms
in excitement, defending his dreams and theories; the odd thing about this was
that when people took a closer look they saw he was in fact muttering fiercely
to himself. He had no friends, yet he was perfectly fine with this, which only
increased the rumour of him being 'abnormal'. When Timothy reached his eight
birthday he was widely avoided by everybody, save for his family; only one person
had the immense gift of drawing his attention back to reality: Old Tom, the
Timothy walked at a steady pace trough the deserted
streets leading him home, but he glanced around him quickly before turning right
into one of the larger and more crowded streets. He kept his ears perked while
walking through the heart of the town, searching for a specific sound. And then,
as he walked by 'Ferdinand's Flowers for all Occasions' the sweet notes reached
his ears and he broke into a run, following the melodic tones like a dog searching
for an unattended steaming roast. Panting he came to a halt in front of a tea-room-like
establishment. Next to it, leaning against the brick wall, stood an old Kyrii
in a patched shirt. Timothy smiled broadly.
Old Tom had his eyes closed, concentrating his
senses on his only valuable earthly possession: his violin. Sitting down on
a bench across the street, Timothy closed his eyes and was wordlessly immersed
in his world of knights and countless heroic acts. For that was where he always
disappeared to when he was bored or when he muttered to himself. A safe world,
where villains were punished for their crimes and good people needn't suffer.
A world very unlike the one he daily thrived in, where talented people like
Tom were reduced to standing on a street corner and begging for some Neopoints.
Although Tom didn't seem to mind too much. "That's
life," he would say in a gruff voice, "and I have my violin. Those people who
buy anything their bulging houses can hold will never be as happy as I am."
Timothy would have happily shared any neopoints he had with the old Kyrii, who
had the power to make him dream like no-one else could. The trouble was he didn't
have too much to spare himself; he didn't really care. The other boys used to
mock him for his battered briefcase and his weird cap, but Tim couldn't have
"You can't buy talent, my boy, they're just jealous
of you," Tom told him the first time they met. He had been six years old and
that day he had run from school in the middle of a lesson, crying wildly, bumping
blindly into anything and anyone. Yet no-one bothered to stop the small crying
Gelert, no-one save for Tom who caught him by the scruff of his neck. "Watch
it boy," he said kindly. "I wouldn't have been responsible for my acts if you
had knocked this out of my hands," he said, brandishing his violin. Timothy
who had been struggling against his captor stopped fidgeting instantly and stared
open mouthed at the violin. He outstretched a finger towards the smooth wooden
surface and to his great surprise the old Kyrii let him touch it.
As he listened to Tom's music, Timothy remembered
how his heart had swelled when he held the violin in his arms, cradling it like
a small child, afraid it would shatter if held too tightly. Yet Tom had never
let him play it, "Not yet," he used to say. "She will be used to you once, the
day will come. Patience." He repeated the same thing every time he caught Timothy
staring at it longingly. He was envious of the Kyrii in a way; how such an old
crumpled Neopet could radiate such energy and passion was beyond explenation.
The last note struck and the sun bathed castle
he had been picturing vanished. Stretching languidly, Timothy got to his feet
and greeted Tom with a wave. Tom flashed his toothless grin - scaring a passer-by
out of his wits - and flexed his fingers, tired from a day of playing.
A bell tinkled as the door of the tea-room opened,
causing a pool of warm light to flood the sidewalk, and out came a steaming
mug of coffee followed by a green Wocky in a brown dress and white apron. "Thought
you might like a warm-up, Tom. It's dead cold today," she said handing him the
mug and tucking her hands under her arms, screening them from the biting cold.
Tom smiled knowingly and took a sip. "Back again, are you?" she asked Timothy.
She sounded reprimanding, but in truth she was grateful that someone else cared
about Tom as much as she did. She brushed a lock of brown hair out of her eyes
and smiled down at him. The musician handed her back the cup with a grateful
nod and she hurried back inside to continue her shift.
"A nice person," Tom grunted as he tucked his
violin in its case. "They don't make them like that any more." He looked at
Timothy and patted his head. "Although you seem to be on the right way to become
one," he added as an afterthought. He took off his cap in a mock-greet, winked
and turned the corner, heading for somewhere Timothy supposed to be 'home'.
November went by in a haze of adventures involving
knights, swords and fair ladies, when each school day Timothy would visit Tom
and listen to the dulcet tones of the magical piece of wood he so harmoniously
played. The weekends of the month turned out to be cold, dull and grey and especially
void if music. If ever his parents hated anything, it was noise, in the widest
possible way of conception. If breathing loudly was a felony, Timothy didn't
have a hard time imagining what would happen if he invited Tom over, and he
knew Tom would refuse.
November sneakily turned into December bringing
icy wind, frosting and snow. Nevertheless Tom kept playing outside, all day
long. "Keeps me warm," he grunted through a cough, as his breath fogged. "I'm
feeling she's almost ready for you, boy," he told Timothy one day. "You'll be
playing her soon." Timothy had smiled and had felt his fingers burning with
anticipation, as the wood seemed to be calling him.
He returned the day after this extraordinary
revelation, wondering whether it would be that day. Yet as he turned
left towards the tea-room there were no knights to battle, no fair ladies crying
for help. In fact there was absolutely nothing meeting his ears. Confused and
outraged Timothy broke into a run and came to an abrupt halt as his eyes searched
the red brick wall for Tom's silhouette. He edged closer, peering around him,
convinced Tom would jump out any minute now and allow him, Timothy, to play
the violin. But nothing came as the cold wind whipped his face and snowflakes
landed in his hair and eyelashes. For a moment he wondered if he had fallen
asleep in class and if this was just a weird dream. Hesitating, he walked forward
and touched the wall with his gloved hand, hoping perhaps Tom would materialize
out of thin air if he did this. When nothing happened he stood with his back
against the wall and he swore he could still feel the heat of a previous body
imprinted on the stone. Then he waited, just waited. Minutes, hours, ages.
Timothy jerked awake when he heard a small bell,
he opened his eyes and expected to see Tom playing as the friendly Wocky brought
him a drink. He did see the lady in her eternal brown dress and apron, but no
Tom. She hurried over to him, wrapped him in a blanket and ushered him in the
Tea-room. Tim blinked at the dazzling warm light and felt the heat of the crackling
fire rush trough his veins. She sat him down and forced him to take a sip of
burning hot liquid, which turned out to be chocolate.
"You poor dear, how long have you been standing
out there?" He opened his eyes blearily, seeing for the first time she wore
a nametag that said 'Elleonore', and shrugged in response to her question. She
bit her lip and he saw her eyes were puffy and oddly bright. Struck by sudden
panic he shook off the blanket, sat up and asked: "Where is Tom?" He hated to
hear the panic-stricken sound of his voice.
Elleonore bit her lip again and dabbed at her
eyes with a handkerchief. "Oh my dear," she stammered, "Tom died this morning."
He felt as if he had been slapped across the face and Timothy felt oddly numb
all of a sudden, his throat didn't burn anymore, and he felt neither hot nor
cold. One thing he knew for sure was that something was wrong with his ears,
maybe they didn't function well without music, because he knew he could not
have heard right, he knew that lady -Elleonore- could not have just said that
As he regained control of his basic functions,
he fixed his eyes on Elleonore's large amber ones, asking her to repeat, to
explain. "I'm sorry," she sobbed and got up quickly, disappearing behind a curtain
near a bar. The young Gelert just stared at his gloves, moving a finger once
in a while to make sure this was all real. His heart plummeted as Elleonore
set Tom's battered violin case on the wooden table in front of him. He gulped
and stared at her, she nodded kindly.
His hands shaking, Timothy undid the clasp and
a note, a napkin rather, fluttered out. He reached for it and unfolded the napkin,
his eyes prickling with tears. There were only a few words written on the white
surface: She's ready now.