WFOL 2024 Challenge
by Tunnel Muse
Hello, my name is Jason Storm. I am fifty years old and a musician. I am self-taught and play the violin.
I was twelve years old when I lost my parents in a car accident and ended up living with my grandfather shortly afterwards. My grandfather raised me while he ran a small music store and taught children music in his downtime. I would listen to him play and then try to play it myself. I seemed to be able to pick up the music quite easily, and my grandfather heard me play.
“You have a gift, my boy! Where did you learn to play the violin?”
“I don’t know? I just love the way it sounds when it’s played.”
“Well!” said my grandfather, “with a little bit of fine tuning, I can help you on the finer points. How would you like that?”
“That sounds amazing!” I said to him with a huge grin.
So, he taught me after work was done, and even let me work in the music store after school and weekends.
Over the next ten years, we worked together, and I learned everything about music and the business aspects of it. On one of those days when the business was quiet, Grandad closed the shop and we went home, which conveniently was just up a flight of stairs from our store. On this one rare slow day, he mentioned a winter gathering he would go to every year, with the exception of illness, he said. Although he would always try to make the effort anyway, when possible.
This day, we sat drinking coffee, relaxing, so I decided to ask him more about it, since after he had mentioned it, he sat deep in thought, shaking his head slightly. “Granddad, can you tell me about this weekend of yours?”
He sat thinking about what he was going to say before he spoke. “It’s a place of wonder and mystery. A place of fairy tales. Almost…magical!”
I sat beside him in rapt interest, curiosity, and wonder as to what this place could be. I listened intently to what he was saying as he continued.
“To explain, my boy, you must understand how this all began and why, before telling you. It was many years ago, when I was young and my shop was new.”
Sitting patiently, I waited for him to continue with his story.
“My business was small and new, like I said. It was hard work and it wasn’t always easy, but I loved it. People would come in and buy my instruments. Guitars, banjos, and violins. I even had some percussion instruments, as well. As time went on, business was good, and I made a good living on what I really loved…music. I even refurbished old instruments that no one wanted or needed any more.
“Business was so good that I decided to give back…pay it forward.”
Grandad was thoughtful again; his eyes seemed to be looking into another time. Then, shaking his head, he spoke again.
“As I told you, business was good, better than good, and I wanted to give back in some small way. I decided to teach children the appreciation of music and began to give lessons. You’ve seen them come to the shop in the evenings, two times a week, to hone their craft.
“Each child gets to choose their instrument of choice, and then learn that instrument. Some took to it easily, as you have, with an inner God-given gift. Others had to work a bit harder, but they had heart and the willingness to learn. It was wonderful to see them grow.”
He paused for a few moments to collect his thoughts, then continued. “I’ve never really spoken about my life…my past before your dad was born. It was a hard, struggling, wondrous, and beautiful life.
“I was an orphan and, like you, had a gift for music. Some wonderful people took me in and raised me until I was old enough to be on my own and live independently.”
I listened intently to my grandfather. I never knew of him being an orphan and having to struggle. I guess it made me realize that we weren’t so different after all. It made me love and appreciate him even more.
“Well,” Grandad continued, “that’s why I give back, my boy. Now I teach children who wish to learn, no matter their station in life, from then ‘til now. I refurbish those instruments and take them to the children and others who can’t afford to buy them but appreciate the art of music.
“As you probably have been wondering, I go out over the Christmas holiday month. I think you are old enough now to come with me and a few of the other musicians who play with me. We are only a small troupe, but you will understand why.
“I have only one request, Jason!”
He looked at me with a serious expression, but also love.
“I’m listening, Granddad.”
“The place I and the other musicians go must be kept a secret, never to be told to anyone! Understand?”
I had a quizzical expression on my face, and my eyes were wide, staring. “Why does it have to be a secret?!”
“Because it’s where I grew up when I was small. I owe these people everything, my boy, and you must promise me to keep it a secret and tell no one about this place. All right?”
I saw the compassion and concern in my grandfather’s eyes, including a bit of apprehension.
“Look, son, I had to get the okay to bring you. You are not a child anymore, but a young man. I believe I can trust you. Please, Jason!”
“I’ll keep the promise, Granddad, I won’t let you down.”
That was my first time in the Tunnel world. I looked at it in awe and amazement, meeting the loving people who were family to my grandfather. They were warm, caring, and compassionate people. There was no way I could disappoint him, so I kept my word and said nothing about this wonderful treasure my grandfather gave me. In a strange way…another family, even for me.
Now fifty, and my grandfather gone, I continue his legacy. I play my violin along with the other musicians, who are the children of the original troupe, continuing to bring joy to the Tunnel folk and Helpers. I stroll around the room, playing and watching the enjoyment I can bring for one wondrous night, until next year. I pray one day my son will continue the legacy my grandfather began.
I, Jason Storm, violin player, wish … HAPPY WONDROUS WINTERFEST!!!!! to all. See you next year!!!!