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A Grown Man's Shoes

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Mr. Eldon sat at his organ in a concert hall. It was a magnificent instrument, vast and
foreboding, with tall towering pipes, rows of black and white keys, and hundreds of small knobs
called stops on all sides. This splendiferous organ was the talented musician’s true home, and he
allowed no one but himself to touch it. When he played, he was a king on his throne.
Mr. Eldon himself was an older man of fifty-six with bold lines of silver that ran through
his inky black hair. He was tall and thin and wore a dark suit with a bowtie around his neck.
Everything about his appearance made him look shadowy and mysterious except for his shoes.
They were special shoes for the organ: lighter on top and wider on the bottom to make the foot
pedals sound their best. Mr. Eldon prized the shoes so much that he spent hours a day polishing
them so that they looked as though they were made of liquid silver. The shoes shined so brightly
that when he walked, they seemed to shimmer like the most precious jewels in his royal crown.
On this particular night, he was twisting the sixth of many stops, tuning it so it would
solve his problem. Tonight, during the Fall Choir Concert, the girl would be gone, and he would
keep what she had no right to ask for.
It had all started a few months before. The girl, Nova, had just become the youngest
member of the choir at sixteen years old. Mr. Eldon saw immediately that her musical talent was
almost equal to his own. However, as time went by, he found that Nova was exceedingly
ambitious, opinionated, and controlling. Before she came, he made the important decisions for
the choir, his kingdom. In the past, this had always worked out for the best, so who was this girl
to question him? Who was this child daring to challenge a man with thirty-six years of
Nova constantly asked to change everything. She always complained that the songs were
worn out and too traditional for the modern world. She gave her own, new suggestions that Mr. Eldon felt were outrageous: too fast and overly excited, hardly what he called music. Besides, his
ideas had always been good enough for him and for the choir.
But there was the real issue: the choir. They actually liked her nonsense! They were
dazzled at her “fresh look on things” and said that “a change would do us good.” In these
instances, Mr. Eldon was always forced to consent to Nova, or else he would lose their
confidence. Each time this happened, he would look at Nova’s face and see a gleam of triumph
in her eyes. He felt she wasn’t ready to have this power over people. Mr. Eldon was troubled by
what he sensed as growing dissent among his choir, dissent that might eventually lead to the end
of his reign if he did not do something to stop it.
He finished turning the stop, then pulled it carefully. All of the lights in the concert hall
went out, and a whooshing sound could be heard from above. Then, an instant later, the lights
came back on, but a rope was hanging over the stage- with a loop on the end. Mr. Eldon was
ecstatic: it worked! He was not as pleased as he would be later however, when that loop was
around Nova’s pale neck.
A door opened on the other side of the hall, and Nova walked in. As a ghost of his
gruesome fantasy, he was surprised to see her, but he kept his composure.
“You’re a bit early, aren’t you, Nova?”
“Oh, I guess so. But I wouldn’t miss this concert for the world.”
Nova started walking up the center aisle. She was of average height, with pale skin and
curly red hair like fire. She strode up to the organ with the attitude of not only someone who
knew what she wanted but how to get it, but the attitude of somebody who already saw herself
on the throne.
“What are you doing here so early, Mr. Eldon?”
“Just making sure the old girl is ready to go. I have something special prepared for
tonight.” He patted the organ lovingly.
“Ooh, what kind of something?”
“It’s a surprise. You wouldn’t want me to spoil the surprise, would you?”
“I guess not.”
Nova kept her eyes fixed on the organ, as if somehow the old girl was saying more than
her musical master. Mr. Eldon saw her staring and she hastily looked down at his shoes.
“I see your shoes are extra shiny tonight.”
“Of course, I’ve got to look my best.”
“Yeah, you’ve got to look your best,” Nova said under her breath.
“What was that?”
“Nothing.” She paused, then said:
“Break a leg tonight, Mr. Eldon.”
“You too, Nova. I know you’ll be amazing as always.”
“Who knows, one day I just might be in your shoes!” She laughed girlishly, but Mr.
Eldon could discern a hint of menace in her voice.
“We’d better head into the choir room to get ready.”
“You go on ahead, sir. I’ll follow you down in a few minutes.”
“All right.”
Mr. Eldon walked quickly through the side door. He was unsettled by the conversation,
but he decided not to let it get to him. What could the girl possibly know about his plan? Still, he
turned around and saw her looking carefully at his precious organ.
* * *

The hall was packed. It was halfway through the concert. The choir was wearing bright
yellow robes, and their melodious voices echoed all around the excited listeners. The music from
the organ was mellifluous and lovely to the crowd, but something didn’t feel right to Mr. Eldon.
The keys seemed to be resisting his touch, and in his ears the chords were dissonant and
clanging. He shook it off as nerves, however: the girl had to be stopped, or she would take the
crown before she was entitled to it.
The sixth song was being performed. Nova was singing her solo. It was time.
With one clever hand he pulled his secret stop, knowing what would happen.
But nothing did.
He was scared: it should’ve worked. He pulled it again. Still nothing happened. The
lights never flickered, the rope remained in its hiding place high above the stage. Mr. Eldon
panicked. He looked over at Nova blasting her high note, and she glanced at his face and winked.
Slowly, Mr. Eldon pulled the stop a third time.
Darkness took the hall for a brief moment, but instead of the rope falling on Nova, the
organ fell on Mr. Eldon with a crashing, cacophonous sound. The crowd was absolutely terrified.
When the lights came back on, it was worse. The old girl toppled over the choir director, and the
pipes collapsed and shattered on the ground, the keys were strewn everywhere, the stops rolled
on the floor. Chaos ruled over the scene as people ran screaming while the remnants of the organ
spread through the rest of the hall. Despite the disaster, Nova kept walking with determination,
the same way she had walked before, her scarlet hair bouncing with every step she took. Mr.
Eldon’s legs stuck out from the wreckage of his precious organ, his home for many years, with
the silvery shoes untouched by the disaster. She reached down to pry the shoes off of Eldon’s
dead body-
And woke with a start in her bed. It had all been a dream. Nova was frightened beyond
belief- she never knew she could be capable of this. She looked at her clock: three in the
afternoon. Her nap was hardly peaceful, but she felt rested enough for the Fall Concert that
night. She did feel uneasy about her nightmare: perhaps the plan wouldn’t work, perhaps it
would all come crashing down on her like the magnificent instrument. After all, she was only
sixteen and wanted to fill a grown man’s shoes, even if they were only for the organ.

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