To: the lovely 15 inch viola in school which no one plays (yet)

I suddenly thought about you. You are beautiful. I must say this to all who read this: your translucent chocolate colour, you well-rounded bouts, your luminosity… you are a lovely, lovely instrument. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I’m sorry no one plays you. I think you would have a wonderful sound if someone warmed you up and played you regularly.

Every time we do stocktaking, we take out all the bows and instruments from the cupboard. All the dusty cases with their hoarse, lumbering, rusty violas- and every time I open your case, I squeal in excitement, as if I’d never seen you. Probably no one is convinced of this display of delight, or they just think I’m a lunatic.

I never had the chance to get to know you better- if ever, it had been with that little 14″ kid, with a body possibly too thick for its own good and the scratches and the strings-never-changed. And you are a totally different thing: you have luscious perfect varnish and shiny smooth new strings.

I hope someone finds you, and plays you, and takes ownership of you, even if for a year. I hope that someone is nice to you; I hope she tunes you and plays lots of harmonics and takes care of you. That someone will undoubtedly be my junior, so you may come find me to give me the news.

Although if you do, it will be quite an irregular affair indeed.

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Solo

Minerva took her time going onto the stage. It was her first solo performance with her beloved flute. Nowhere in her mind was the thought that people would not like her to be performing.

In the shadows, an unnoticed man squatted in the curtains. He got out a silenced gun. The girl was over-ambitious and she played terribly, he thought. Or at least that was what Mr. Pallas always said. Cocking the gun carefully, he aimed….The girl played the last note, lifting the instrument from her lips to rapturous applause. He pulled the trigger.

With a little gasp, Minerva fell, instrument clattering The audience recoiled in horror. Some screamed. Others made strangled gasps. Soon a group of paramedics had arrived by Minerva’s side and had begun performing CPR. But after a few minutes, they walked away, expressions grim. The audience knew she was dead. There was a heavy silence.The man smiled thinly. His job was done. Mr. Pallas would pay him generously.