It was in my grandmother’s dusty storage basement that I found the old trunk. It was a fun place to explore-with the sharp, cheap and hastily wired fluorescent lighting and multiple cobwebs it was pleasently creepy for someone with a bit of an imagination.
Crouching like an old man in the corner,the old leather box caught my eye. I bumbled over to it, curious. Pulling it out with an ominous shower of dust, I opened it.
The first was a hefty binder. It was dusty, like everything else, but hardly old. Maybe old bill records, or something. I put it to the side, hoping to find something ancient and interesting. Maybe one of my grandma’s journals, with any luck.
I giggled at the thought of reading about boys and dances, the stuff that mostly occupied my diaries.
But all I found was music.
Sheets and sheets of it, some bound with silky ribbon. I recognized all of the music written with a grand bar staff-the kind used for piano. It all seemed to be handwritten. None it was probably ever published, it occurred to me. Just written, played a few times maybe, and then stuffed down here.
How sad. Though I’d failed at every instrument I’d ever tried, I loved music and to find it stuffed away in a trunk in a basement made me pile the entire stack of music on the ground to take back upstairs and give to my brother, who was amazing at the piano.
At the very bottom I found a metal sculpture of a wolf. It was small, barely larger than a paperclip. As I brought it into the light a howl, high and musical, rang through the air. I jumped and dropped it back in shadow, and the howling stopped.
What a clever trick! I brought it into the light and it sang again, loud and clear. Smiling, I put it back in shadow, wondering idly how it worked.
Finally I turned back to the binder. It was a black, thick thing. Completely bland in every way. But who knew what was inside it? Maybe sketches, or more music.
I flipped through the pages, seeing nothing but words. All written in blocky prose. Curious, I read the first page.
“My dear ice bear tells me that I should write this all down, not let it be lost. At first I was incredulous-so much more could be explained through music.
“I have weaved our story through countless melodies and rhythms. A person need only listen and they can find and entire novel there. But he tells me that some people do not understand that, that they cannot hear that.
“I responded, rather callously, by saying those people were evidently deaf to everything around them.
“ ‘Not deaf. They hear. Differently from us, that’s all. But they deserve this, too.’ His response, as always, clearly showed my lack of wisdom.
“I suppose I can see the sense in what he said. So, here is my story. Some say it was all a dream. Maybe it was, but the fact is this-my ice bear wakes with me every morning. That seems real enough.
“I am better at writing with sounds themselves-notes and beats and rhythms. But if you see differently from the way I do, hear differently, then I will try to write with words, an entirely different sort of magic.”
Intriuged, I read on.