The International Writers Magazine:Adventures with a Cello
snuggled with the cello. She hadnt played yet that Sunday
morning. Outside her first floor window it was bleak; the scruffy
clouds were heavy with rain. A beam of lamplight from the nearest
table made her glow. She grinned from ear to ear, gleefully remembering
last nights fortune, which prevented her from eating beyond
a spoonful of rice, now cold on her plate. The cookie crumbs were
still on the kitchen table, along with two plates. The one stained
and stacked with spare rib bones, with hardly a trace of meat, except
for the remnants of charred skin. That was her mothers plate.
plate was full of rice and two untouched spare ribs. Only a spoonful
of rice had been removed. Before taking that only spoonful she ripped
apart her fortune cookie, her three nights a week ritual. She wouldve
ordered Chinese every night, but her mother would only allow it three
nights a week.
The blueness under Marjories left eye was a reminder not to order
Chinese a fourth night. Her eye still hurt a little, but was much better
than it had been on other occasions. The bruise was a minor affliction;
she desperately needed to know her fortune that day at all costs because
of the man she saw jogging outside her window, who bore a striking resemblance
to her father. Although she hadnt seen him in three years she
remembered him jogging every morning before work. His lean muscular
body was still ripe in her brain. Luckily she had been brushing up on
her music she thought. She would finally be able to play the cello for
him, which she couldnt do the last time he was around; barely
able to hold the cello then it was as big as a big person to her. At
five and half every person was a big person to her. Now she was eight
and a half and could wrap her arms around the cello.
Marjorie couldve prevented her black eye had she gone to Davids
Kitchen when her mother was passed out earlier last night. David always
was generous to her, giving her two fortune cookies a visit, one for
each of her dimples. Last night she was afraid to leave the apartment,
not wanting to get smacked for leaving when she wasnt supposed
to. Instead she ordered Chinese on the phone, thinking her mother was
passed out in her bedroom. Her mother socked her when the delivery guy
came to the door.
Letting her fist unclench, she read the tiny piece of paper in her hand.
Your big wish will come true. The tiny piece of paper, from the fortune
cookie was crumpled from being squished since the start of her dinner
Her mother lay on the couch, her arm hanging off the side. Her lipstick
smeared above her lips, her cheeks smudged with rouge, one false eyelash
dangling, needing only a sneeze to fall.
Marjorie didnt even realize how late it was, usually waking her
mother for work by eight; it was now ten thirty. She kept wondering
if her wish would come true, petting her cello as if it were a puppy.
The doorbell rang and her eyes opened wide. Instantly she thought her
wish had come true. She couldnt believe things were happening
so quickly. Dizzily excited her bare feet froze against the uncarpeted
floor. The bell rang a second and third time. Her mother yawned, exposing
two crooked teeth. Marjorie was frightened. She touched her bruised
eye watching her mother stumble off the couch, her fake lash falling
to the ground. Her mother limped to the bathroom.
By the fourth ring Marjorie opened the door.
"Hello. My name is Linus Hirsh. From Send Your Lost Love a Message,
formerly known as Worth A Hug, but now since were working independently
as well as jointly weve been putting together all kinds of fabulous
packages for you and your loved ones. Congratulations for being chosen.
For our limited time offer. Actually we can offer your loved one for
an unlimited time, but you need act now. Mind you this list includes
but is not only limited to: singing telegrams, personalized teddy bears
with messages knitted onto their sweaters that tell that special someone
how much you miss them. Good stuff like that and if you act now."
The man scoffed at the little person with short blonde hair and couldnt
make out the childs gender. He guessed, with difficulty, that
the young child was either a very cute boy with bushy golden locks or
a pretty girl with short hair. Linus Hirsh saw a little person and no
sale; he frowned at the scarred face on his fake Rolex to see how many
minutes he wasted on his pitch.
"Is your mother or father home," Linus asked peering over
the little girls head while scratching his hairy neck.
Heaving coughs escaped from the bathroom.
"She just got up," Marjorie haltered.
"I suppose I can wait."
He dropped his duffel bag and dug through some items. Marjorie tried
to peak into the bag, but Linus hunched over searching for one of the
companys freebie teddy bears, his beefy arms blocking Marjories
view. His faded tan jacket sleeves rode up by his forearms, revealing
thousands of prickly hairs standing up from the friction of the rayon
"I dont think my mommy is going to be out for a while. Shes
sick today," Marjorie said hearing a familiar muffled flush.
"Geez. I guess Im gonna have to come back."
Linus swiped his bag by the single handle causing the other end to bang
against his knee.
"Id like to get something for someone special," Marjorie
"You would huh," Linus said, his eyes eager for his first
sale of the week. He wet his lips. "For who?"
"Great. We have a whole bunch of stuff. How bout a singing
telegram. Is it his birthday?"
"No. Its a welcome home present."
"Fabulous. We can schedule a singer at any time, but you have to
pay first. We take most major credit cards Where did I put my
He dug through his bag again unable to find them.
"When did you say he was returning?"
"I dont know."
"What?" Linus poked his head inside the apartment, staring
at the door where the heaving coughs were coming from. "Is your
mother going to be out soon?"
"I think so. But shes going to be sick all day."
"Nothing contagious though?"
"I dont think so."
Linus cracked his knuckles palms outward. He picked at his pinky nail,
removing brown grimy specks. "I think Ill come back later."
He turned to leave, again smashing his bag into his knee.
"Wait," Marjorie said.
"I dont have all day."
"I want to send my daddy a hug."
"Figures the lousy twenty-five percent Worth A Hug commissions
are the only deals I ever...," he muttered, "Fine but you
have to know what day hes going to be here in order for me to
make the appointment."
"I have money. Ill be back."
She left Linus by the door and went into her room. Entering her walk-in-closet
she was greeted by the pungent mix of dirty clothes and mildew. Rummaging
through some pants and shirts she forgot where she hid the money since
she quite often found places to hide it. Finally, as she searched her
dirty clothes, a torn sock, rolled in a ball tumbled from the top shelf.
Inside it was her buried treasure, she scooped it off the floor and
pulled out thirty-seven dollars, seventeen of which were singles that
were stuffed inside the torn sock. She had been saving the money for
a special occasion or for Chinese when her mother wasnt home.
When she came back Linus was scratching a paint chip on the door. Marjorie
held the money tightly in her hand the way she had held onto the fortune
the night before. She placed the wad of bills in Linus hand. He
cupped the hot and moist bills. Although they reeked of perspiration
he took his time counting them; only thirty-seven dollars he thought.
"Tell my daddy that I miss him and that Im going to give
him a big hug when he comes home."
"Sure," Linus said. He didnt even bother to give her
The bathroom door opened. Linus fled the scene quickly, Near the end
of the hallway he turned his head saying, "Expect your daddy by
Marjorie smiled. She didnt even notice her mother hobbling to
her bedroom. Marjorie sat back on the chair, listening for her mothers
door to slam. After the twaaack, she scooped up the cello off the floor
and began playing, holding her wooden friend lovingly. Two more days
till her wish would finally come true, to hug the man who gave her the
© John Gorman Jan 2005
John's work has appeared in The Glendale Register, Art and Mind, Thunder
Sandwich, Olivetree Review, East of the Web and elsewhere. His screenplay
"For the Love of Auntie" won at the NY International Indie
Film and Video Festival.
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