December 16, 2009
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September 15, 2006. Probably one of the most important dates in my life. I sat anxiously in the back seat of my mother’s Grand Cherokee Jeep, my too long eleven year old legs swinging back and forth. Today’s the day, I think to myself. Today’s the day I get my viola. No more used school ones, I chant in my mind, ignoring the fact that I’d only been using the school viola for two weeks.

Finally I see it, the small store squished in between five others with a bright sine that says: Music & Arts Center. My mother pulls up directly in front of it and I snap off my seatbelt and practically jump out of the car. The only thing that’s keeping me from running into the store is my mother’s voice calling out to me, telling me not to go in without her. So I wait impatiently at the door, holding it open for my mother and follow her into the store.

There are instruments everywhere. Violins hang on the wall, their bows a little ways away. Cellos are propped up on racks; nothing compared to their cousin the base. But I’m not interested in those. What I’m here for is a completely different instrument; the viola.

My mother walks up to the front desk where a man with blond hair is standing behind the counter. He raises his head and meets my mother’s eyes. “May I help you?” he asks in a tone that suggests that he’d be happy if we left so he could get back to whatever he was doing before.

My mother says, “Yes. I ordered a Viola for my daughter two weeks ago. The clerk at time said it would be due today.”

The clerk raises his eyebrow and turns to a computer on his right. “What name did you order it under?” His hands hover over the keyboard, waiting patiently for my mother to tell them what to type.

“Caldswell,” My mother tells him. The clerk, whose name tag said ‘Dave’, typed the name into the computer and glanced at the screen.

“We don’t have any violas under the name Caldswell,” he informs my mother.

My mother just says, “Its Ca not Ka.”

Dave retypes it and this time he looks at me and says, “A Frederick A. Strobel viola, sixteen and a half inches long?”

I nod my head and feel a great sense of anticipation. My mother on the other hand, does not feel any anticipation and just says, “Well? Is it here or not?”

I look away in embarrassment at my own mother’s impatient attitude. Dave stares at me with a look in his eyes that say: No worries, I get rude parents all the time, and who knows maybe he does get rude parents a lot. Finally he responds to my mother’s question. “We just got it today. It’s in the back.” He turns away from us and yells for a girl whose name is Chelsea.

The girl Chelsea emerges from the far back corner of the store, bubble gum in her mouth and a fashion magazine in her hands. She gives Dave an irritable look and asks, “What?”

Dave gives her his own withering glare and tells her, “Go into the back room. There should be a viola on the desk in there. Bring it out here and give it to me.” He says the orders as if he is speaking to a little child.

Chelsea gives him one last glare before stomping into the supposed back room.

Dave turns back to us and says, “Manager’s daughter,” as if that explained everything and it did. A few minutes later Chelsea comes back out of the room this time with a larger black case in her hands instead of the magazine.

She shoves the case into Dave’s hand and without a single word, turns around and marches back into the back room. Dave opens the case to check (or at least it’s what I assume he’s doing) the instrument. He closes the case and hands it to me and says, “For you,” In a teasing tone.

Expecting it to be heavy, I am surprise to find out that it’s extremely light.

I set the case onto the counter and open it cautiously. Inside it is a mahogany colored viola, with four strings. I stare at it in wonder. At the end of each string is red fabric and on the bridge it says: Made in France. I take the viola out of it’s case and hold it up just like how Mr. Stephen had shown me.

My mother tapped her foot impatiently as if to say, “Great you got your instrument. Now lets go.”
Dave says, “That’s one of the prettiest violas I’ve ever seen, and coming from me that’s something.”

My mother responds, “It better be pretty. That thing cost five thousand dollars.” I’m afraid that if I open my eyes any wider, they’ll fall out of my skull and roll away.

Dave catches my expression. “What’d you expect? That viola had to be specially made for you because of your long arms.”

I choke out, “But my friend Mattie’s instrument only cost one thousand and she got it from here too.”

He shrugs his shoulder. “Probably an older model,” He pauses, “are you going to name it?”

My mother just looks at him like he’s lost his mind. I, however, say, “Our conductor, Mr. Stephen, says that you should name your instrument so that you can bond with it.” Now my mother is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind too.

Dave nods. “So what’re you going to name it?”

I think hard for a few minutes. I want it to be a name that I like, however, I really don’t want to name my viola Sherman even though it’s an awesome name. I think of Mr. Stephen who said he had a distant cousin named Marik.

Marik. Marik. Marik.

“Marik!” I exclaim.

Dave grins and says, “Good name.”
I’m about to say ‘Thank you’ when my mother grabs my arm and says, “We need to go.”

Reluctantly, I put the viola back in it’s case. My mother all but drags me out of the store and I turn around and yell, “Bye Dave!”
He looks at me with a bewildered expression. Probably wondering how I know his name. I see him glance down at his name tag and I roll my eyes. Boys.

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