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Old Strings This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


It was missing parts.

It wascracked.

It was perfect.

During my week-long winter breakfreshman year, I went to my grandmother's house with my mom. It was Thursday bythe time the three of us made the trip to the cement-block Resettler's warehouse.On the way, I was thinking more of the homework I had to do than where we weregoing. When we got there, I made a quick tour through the aisles stacked withdishes, linens, glass and other knickknacks. By the time I'd looked ateverything, only five minutes had passed. Meanwhile, my mom and grandmother weretaking their time, analyzing each item and its uses. I wandered back to the mainfloor where the furniture was piled.

The store was very busy and thepeople, flowing like water, crowded into every cranny. Several were grabbingeverything within reach, and in a desperate attempt to keep out of the way ofthese over-zealous bargain-hunters, I retreated to a couch directly in front ofthe counter that wrapped around the main floor. On my way, I noticed a set ofantique silverware, the selection of vintage Bakelite, and a few tarnished pocketwatches. Cautiously, I sat myself on the sturdiest couch I could find and tookoff my glasses. As I pretended to check how comfortable it was, I let my mind andeyes wander. It would be a long time until my mom and grandmother would be readyto leave.

I leaned back, wiggled my foot, and observed the peculiar folks.A guy wearing a brown hat with wooden duck heads sticking off at odd angleswandered around, picking up the porcelain plates to inspect them. A younger ladysauntered by my couch swinging a large pocketbook with such aggression that Ifelt compelled to sit up and tuck my feet under to avoid being whacked. Severalordinary people sifted through the linens and browsed the aisles. After tenminutes, I was nearly unconscious from boredom.

Just as my eyelidsdrooped, a man in a ridiculously oversized red tunic kicked my outstretchedfoot.

"Miss," he whined, "can I assist you in purchasingthis couch? There are other customers who might want to try it." Hescratched his head like a monkey and lumbered off toward the sound of glasshitting the floor. It wasn't that I was afraid of him, but I still stood. As Imoved to get up, my eyeglasses clattered to the floor. When they were back on myface and things had come into focus, my eyes were resting on a wooden masterpiecehanging on the wall behind the counter.

I asked if I could see it upclose, and watched with horror as the woman went and ripped it down. She nearlydropped it on the counter as she left to help someone else.

My hands shookas I picked it up: an antique violin in good condition. I had wanted an oldviolin ever since I became a good enough violinist to tell the difference betweeninstruments. The beautiful wood and hand-carved scroll made up for the scratcheson the body. It had no tailpiece, strings or bridge; there were only three pegsand an old chinrest. A small crack, about an inch long, ran from the edge nearthe chinrest, but I hardly noticed because I was too excited about the flamedmaple on the back.

After a full inspection, I peeked inside the leftf-hole, and saw a label that read: "Copy of Paolo Giovanni Maggini, Made inGermany." I didn't know who Maggini was, but it didn't matter, I had alreadyfallen in love. I ran to my mom, not daring to look at the pricetag.

Three hours later I was sitting happily in my grandmother's livingroom. I turned the violin in my lap as I investigated it for the hundredth time.Some major repairs were needed, and I would have to purchase some parts. My mom,who has refinished many bureaus and tables, advised me to remove the remainingfinish and apply a new layer. I spent the rest of my break attempting toconcentrate on homework, but I always ended up daydreaming about myviolin.

With some hard work, in three months I had refinished theinstrument. It was smooth, scratchless and warm, as opposed to the cold shinyvarnishes on the violins of today. I eagerly looked forward to the day when itwould come back from being fitted and strung.

I will never forget thefirst time I played my violin. It wasn't tuned properly, and the strings werestill stretching into their places. The first notes were disappointingly painfuland I was very unhappy, but over the next few days, the vibrant notes began tofall into place. The sound became melancholy and deeply penetrating, perfect forthe Slavic music I enjoy.

Almost every day since, I've practiced on myviolin, discovering its secrets. I've found things I never knew could exist in aninstrument. The most unexpected discovery was that it has its own spirit, fillingthe black hollow inside, a compilation of everyone who has ever loved it. Thatfeeling sings whenever I touch the bow to the strings.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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