Notable: Part One
La, SQUEAK, La, SQUEEK, honk was the normal sound at Julie's
Neohome. Julie clamped her blue Gelert paws over her ears and cringed as she listened
to her red Yurble sister practice her clarinet. "Yuck," Julie muttered to herself
as she walked up to the room she shared with her sister. She swung the door open
and quickly shut it to muffle the noise and save the rest of their family from
"Didn't I sound great? I did, didn't I? I knew
I had talent in something!" Julie's little sister, Mala, exclaimed happily.
Mala dropped her clarinet on the bed and jumped up and down, clapping. "It was
a really hard Holiday song, but I played it so well, didn't I?" Mala was oblivious
to the fact that she stunk at clarinet playing.
Julie looked at the ceiling and rolled her eyes.
"Oh yeah, that was fantastic, Mala. I think you're improving!" she lied. Julie
went over to the desk on her side of the room and began pulling books out of
her backpack so that she could finish her homework.
Running over, Mala hugged her sister around the
shoulders and said happily, "I knew you'd like it! I just knew it!"
Julie gently pulled her sister off of her and
said, "Yeah, well, I think you should stop practicing now." Please stop practicing,
Julie begged in her mind. "Do your homework," She suggested as she took out
her Geometry worksheet and chewed at the end of her pencil, already thinking
about the first problem.
Mala shrugged and went back to her bed, picking
up her clarinet and replying, "I will, I will. Later, though, because I need
to practice my clarinet some more. I just love playing Seasonal music! It's
so much fun, don't you agree?"
Hitting herself on the head with her Geometry
book, she dropped it down on the desk and said with a pleading look in her eyes,
"Can't you please practice later so that I can get some homework done here?"
"Nonsense," Mala told her sister. "Everybody
knows that some music helps people study."
"Let me know when you start playing music then,"
Julie muttered with her head in her hands.
The Yurble picked up the clarinet and began blowing
furiously in it, her fingers moving all over, but not sure what to do. The racket
was immense, and it could be heard clearly downstairs by Mala and Julie's older
brother as if Mala was blowing in his ear herself.
The green Jubjub growled and angrily put down
the book he was reading. If only their owner was home, then he could put an
end to the disturbance. The Jubjub, Bobby, stomped upstairs and shoved the door
open, letting it bang against the wall for emphasis.
"Stop playing, please!" Bobby exclaimed loudly.
"I'm trying to read down there!"
"Don't be silly, Bobby," Mala laughed. "My music
will calm and relax you so that you can sink into your book and be one with
the story," she added as she dropped to her knees and put her arm across her
forehead like it was a theatre performance.
"The only thing that your playing will relax
is a dying Rock Tree that can't wait to get out of its misery!" Bobby yelled,
losing his very short temper.
"Bobby," Julie said warningly. "Calm yourself."
Of this eccentric family, Julie was usually the cool and collected one, although
it didn't always appear like it. Bobby shrugged and glared at Mala, then walked
stiffly back downstairs. Julie addressed Mala, who was looking after Bobby with
wide eyes, and said, "Please, Mala. I love you dearly, but could you stop your
playing for a while? We all need a break so that we can finish our homework
without all this noise going on!"
"So is that what you think my playing is?" Mala
asked in a small, tight voice with tears beginning to form in her eyes. "Noise?!?"
She stood next to her bed, clutching her beloved instrument tightly, looking
pitiful and innocent.
"No, that's not what I meant, Mala," Julie said
regretfully, getting up. "I just think that we should all get our homework done
first," Julie thought for a moment and then added, "in a quiet atmosphere."
"Fine," Mala replied curtly and slammed her clarinet
down on her bed. Walking heavily over to the desk, she jumped into her chair
and began working on her own homework.
The air was tense in the sisters' room as they
worked the afternoon away. Even Bobby could feel it as he walked into their
room to announce that dinner was ready.
Mala looked at Julie with her jaw tight and then
stomped out of the room. Shaking her head, Julie followed behind, dragging her
feet slightly. She felt bad that she had hurt her sister's feelings, even if
it was unintentional. Mala and Julie had always had a tight relationship with
one another, being the only girls in the family.
On the table sat Gruel Pizza direct from the
Pizzaroo, sliced up Purrples from the Health Food store, and Organic Chia Wort
Roots from the family garden. It was a typical meal for this family, no matter
how odd it seemed. "I'm famished," The owner said and rubbed his hands together
in anticipation. "It was a good day at our store down in Marketplace. I sold
quite a few things. I think the Month of Celebration's got everybody in the
buying spirit! And in honor of the season and a good day at the shop, I dug
up some Organic Chia Wort Roots," He told his family proudly. "How did your
Bobby looked at Julie, who in turn looked at
Mala, who decided to turn her attention to a slice of pizza. The owner noticed
the exchange between siblings, and said seriously, "OK, so what happened?"
Nobody replied as they busily stuffed their mouths
with food. The owner put his fork down and leaned on the table saying, "Somebody
better tell, or I'll keep the Kiwi Cookies in the refrigerator for myself."
In truth, the owner was the only one that liked
Kiwi Cookies, so this wasn't exactly a huge threat. In response, though, all
of the pets began motioning wildly, pointing to their mouth then their food
and shaking their head. In translation, this means: "I have food in my mouth
and you always told us not to talk with our mouths full, so I can't tell you
Mala swallowed and chose not to be the one to
mention the confrontation that had occurred, but instead ran upstairs quickly
then bounded back downstairs with a piece of paper in her hands. She handed
it to her owner and then slid back into her chair.
The owner wiped his hands on a napkin then asked,
"What's this, Mala?"
"It's a permission slip, giving me, you know,
permission to play my clarinet in the school 'Seasonal Talent Show' during our
holiday break. Anybody can enter that wants to. Can I play in it, Daddy? Can
Bobby and Julie hid snickers under their hands
as Bobby whispered in Julie's ear, "The only reason that everybody can play
in it is because they didn't know how Mala sounded."
Their owner shot a glare at Bobby and Julie then
turned to Mala and said, "Of course you can! Just like our Julie did a couple
of years back! And I'll be out their in the audience cheering you on!"
"Thanks, Dad!" Mala said, hugging him. She excused
herself from the table then ran upstairs and slammed the door shut, no doubt
getting ready to play that infamous instrument again.
Bobby made a face and said grumpily, "Why'd you
let her do that, Dad? You know as well as we do that she's a really bad clarinet
Dad chewed his food then responded calmly, "She
is not a bad clarinet player." Both Bobby and Julie looked at their dad with
doubtful looks on their faces. He sighed then admitted, "Okay, so she could
use a little practice. But we all need to be supportive and not squash her confidence,"
Dad said pointedly with a special look at them.
Julie and Bobby glanced at each other and stomped
their feet on the ground quietly. Their father always seemed to look right through
their little acts and know the truth.
"And since you two both agree that she needs
a little help and I agree that she needs a little encouragement, I'm going to
let you two help her!" Their dad continued with the voice that he used when
he was knowingly making his pets do something they didn't want to do.
"But Dad, I don't know anything about playing
the clarinet," Bobby whined.
"No, but luckily, Julie does. And you've read
up on reading music. I saw those books by your bed. And you can give her some
confidence by believing in her, right?"
"I haven't played the clarinet in ages," Julie
told her dad, thinking of everything she could to get out of this.
"I know you still know how, though. Now no more
excuses. If you're done with your dinner and your homework," he cringed as a
string of squeaks sounded from the clarinet before he continued, "then you can
go and help her right now."
The two siblings new that this was a battle they
could not win, so they sighed, pushed in their chairs, and trudged upstairs.
Mala stopped playing and glared when they came
in. "What do you want?" She asked. "I know that it's not to hear me play!"
"We're here to help you under the suggestion
and influence of our father," Bobby reported. Mala looked at him, clearly confused,
so he continued. "Look. We want to help you so that you can do well at the school
talent show thing."
"Yeah," Julie cut in. "I know how to play the
clarinet, so I can help you. And Bobby can give you…erm…encouragement. He can
teach you how to read the notes quickly or something too, I guess." Never mind
that Julie could teach Mala everything herself. If she had to go through this
miserable experience, then he did too.
"Why would you want to help me?" The red Yurble
asked as she sat down on her bed and crossed her arms over her stomach. "You
said so yourself that I'm a hopeless case."
"We never said you were a hopeless case. We only
said that you played a bunch of noi-" Bobby was cut off by Julie elbowing him
in the ribs.
"We're here to help," Julie repeated firmly as
she walked over to Mala's bed. "We're sorry that we hurt your feelings. I know
that I wasn't very good when I started out either, but I learned and you will
Mala knew that she wouldn't be able to get rid
of them until they were satisfied that they had given her a sufficient amount
of help, so she nodded, resigned.
"Right. So, let's start," Bobby said and waddled
over to the bed. He hopped up and began teaching Mala all of the notes, sharps,
and flats. He explained the musical terminology and made her tell him the counts
Meanwhile, Julie looked over the clarinet and
greased the corks. She cleaned the mouthpiece and polished the keys. Remembering
her beginner books in the closet, she got them out and looked over them, deciding
where they should start. Julie wanted her sister to be the best performer in
the talent show.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Do I look okay? Do you think my clarinet is
polished and shiny enough?" Mala blabbed as she nervously scampered around the
room picking up her music and a hair tie. It was the day of the concert and
Mala had been up since five in the morning.
Julie laughed and said, "Come here and let me
fix your hair for you. Your new dress looks fabulous. Green is a nice touch
against your red fur, especially for the Season. And calm down, you'll be fine!"
"Yeah, especially because you were tutored by
the best," Bobby said with a grin as he entered the room and leaned against
the door. "And don't worry about your clarinet. I cleaned it myself, so it's
"Thanks guys," Mala said, giving her brother
and sister a hug. "You'll be there today, right?" She gazed at her siblings,
close to begging.
Bobby and Julie laughed, reassuring their sister
for the hundredth time that yes, they would be there. "Break a leg!" Bobby told
her encouragingly. Mala smiled, picked up her clarinet and music, and skipped
out the door.
The next thing that could be heard was a CRASH
and then a clatter as Mala cried out.
Their owner rushed out of the living room shouting,
"Are you alright?"
Bobby and Julie looked at each other, raced out
of the room and then down the hallway yelling "Mala!"
They found their sister lying in a heap with
clarinet pieces spilled all over the floor and an open instrument case sitting
upside down next to the steps.
"I didn't mean that you should actually break
a leg," Bobby muttered under his breath at the top of the staircase. Julie kicked
him gently and gave him a glare.
They hurried down the steps and knelt down next
to their sister. "Mala! Are you okay?" They asked in unison.
Mala sat up, looking dazed and replied, "Yeah,
I'm fine…I think. Where's my clarinet?"
The rest of the family was silent as they stared
grimly at her. Julie went over and gathered the sections of the clarinet, then
set them in Mala's lap.
Looking up, Mala said, "But the pieces aren't
broken are they? All the keys are still in tact, right?" She quickly picked
up the two pieces with keys on them and examined them centimeter by centimeter.
She cried out when she saw at least five keys that were bent out of their original
position. "What am I going to do Daddy? Can you fix it Mala? Bobby?"
They all shook their heads grimly. Mala dumped
the broken clarinet pieces off of her lap and sniffled as tears began spilling
from her eyes. The family looked on helplessly, knowing that there was nothing
they could do. The music shop couldn't fix it so quickly when the talent show
was only about an hour away.
Suddenly, Julie sat up straight and bolted up
the stairs, heading to her room. She threw open her closet and began rummaging
around, until she found exactly what she was looking for. She sprinted back
out into the hallway, but slowed down as she went down the stairs to avoid another
She handed the object to her sister saying, "Here."
To be continued...