Babylon 5 stories
ISN Anchor Desk - Original Short StoriesAlexander Romain stood in the open doorway of his Victorian home, glancing at the children who had intruded on his slumber.
"Hey, Mister! We’re from the Academy, and we’re selling stuff to raise money for the school!" said the apparent ringleader. His close-cropped red hair was almost plastered onto his head ... despite the heavy winds, it moved not at all.
The children shifted nervously, moving from foot to foot, while the old man studied them. After several minutes, he asked, "What will the school do with the money?"
"Well, Mister, the choir’s in really bad shape. The robes are falling apart, they’re using boxes instead of stands, and if we don’t get a lot of money they’ll cancel it, and the band, and we’ll only be left with sports!"
"You look like you’re about 10, but you sound much older. This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?"
"Yes," the boy replied.
"Why?" he asked.
"Everyone in my family, for as long as they’ve been here in Bakersville, has been in music. I can’t be the one who fails them! I love music ... I love to sing, and play the piano. It means a lot to me."
"You play the piano, hmm?" The boy nodded. "Come inside." The old man led the boys through the sitting room and into a very large, red velvet-draped room with a piano in the far corner. "So play."
The boy looked nervous again, as though he wanted to be anywhere other than this room, but he went over to the Steinway, pulled up to the bench, put his fingers in the correct position ... and began to play.
Alexander stood in awe of the ability the tiny form before him displayed, of the pure beauty he produced. Alexander had himself produced such work long ago, before ... well, before.
Alexander ordered 10 of every item in the catalog, and wrote out a check on the spot, stunning the wide-eyed boys.
"When does your fundraiser end, son?"
"On Friday," the boy replied.
"I’ll make you a deal," Alexander said. The boy looked to the door quickly, as though planning an escape. "Come back tomorrow after school. Play for me. It’s been far too long since I’ve heard the sounds of music in this house. You play for me, and I’ll order more. Deal?"
The boy couldn’t believe it. He was, without a doubt, the highest seller, and this had been his only stop. "It’s a deal."
And so it was that for the next five days, the boy would arrive at 3:15 sharp, schoolbag in tow. Alexander would have a plate of cookies and glass of milk ready. The boy would play for about an hour, and would leave with an order and check for over a thousand dollars.
It was on Friday, as the boy was getting ready to leave, that he finally asked, "Why do you have me play? You could put in a cd or tape, or play it yourself. You’re giving me so much money for an hour. Why? What do you get out of it?"
"The Academy." For a moment, Alexander was caught in his memories. "When it was built, there was no music department. It was a place of learning, of quiet solitude. There was no fun ... no joy ... no laughter. My grandmother was a teacher there, and it was she who convinced the board to allow it. She’s been gone since I was your age, but I can see her face so clearly, hear the sounds of her laughter, smell her perfume." He looked directly into the boy’s eyes and continued, "I am helping one of her ... students. In a way she couldn’t imagine, she lives on through that school, and in you. When you play, I can hear her playing that same piano. It’s like she’s still here."
"Why didn’t you say something before?"
"You didn’t ask. Now, go. Your parents will be worried."
He started walking towards the door, then turned, a smile on his face, and asked, "Same time tomorrow?" The smile on his face was contagious.
"I’d be honored. Same time tomorrow."