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Allegro Presto

Edith Barber, years 5-6

Sitting solemnly in his chair, he slowly butters his toast, hands shaking, barely able to hold the knife  securely. Dappled morning light shines down on his kitchen table revealing the neatly arranged  condiments and the blue plastic table cover, largely untouched. On the right side of the circular table  stands a singular oak chair. Also upon the table is one lace placemat which holds his cutlery, old and  antique. The sparse belongings of the kitchen all have a place, tucked away neatly and organised in  drawers, not a dish in sight. 

After he finishes his toast, he slowly hoists himself up, a prolonged action, completely reliant on his  walking frame, before shuffling to the sink and hand washing his plate with great effort. He picks the  crumbs off one by one, and slowly rubs a cloth along the rim of the plate till it shines. A pungent  smell emerges from his teapot, like lavender and garden clippings. He pours the tea into a china cup and sips it slowly, still standing at the sink, looking through the lace curtains out into the yard. There  is a quiet hum from the refrigerator, as he finishes his tea.  

The chime of the grandfather clock echoes down the hallway, past hanging framed photos of distant  memories. The grand chimes strike nine times and fill every room in the house. The lounge room with nothing but an ancient television and a Lazyboy armchair, where he sits in silence and  despondency every day. The formal dining room where the cabinet filled with precious crockery  from Maude is left untouched, unblemished and unused since she left. The smell of mould and  mothballs reek through the house and he was simply relieved no one came to stay. It had been that  way forever. He readjusts his immaculately made bed in his antediluvian room. There are no  cushions or fancy decorations, just a bed, a cupboard, and singular hanging pendant, its tired blue  shade a reminder of the past. 

In due course, he makes his way steadily to the front door, before staring out through the screen to  the letterbox. ‘It could do with a lick of paint’ he thinks to himself, though when was the last time he  was caught painting? Maude would be mad with this. With nothing else to do, he trots to his  armchair and lowers himself down with a sigh. 

The day slips past, as he sits despondently. A regular, reliable ticking comes from the Grandfather  clock and it chimes every so often. Resting in his armchair, the old man hopelessly stares through the  window, or across his familiar room, wherever he looks, he only sees blue. Shadows lengthen and  haunt his room, making it seem obsolete. Blue hues dance across his room and fall in heavy shadows  across the drab carpet. He sits glumly in his armchair and slowly nods off. Blue. Blue is all he sees. It’s  even in his dreams. It’s all he’s seen since forever. 

He is awoken by a noise…. a saxophone it seems. The sweet tune reverberates into a crescendo  before adjusting the volume to mezzo forte. The mellifluous piece, an unusual intruder, echoes  through his house like the Grandfather clock. The saxophone plays ‘Careless Whisper’ sparking a  memory. It carries the tune so well and persecutes it with passion. 

Fully intrigued now, he gets up and walks to the front door: an effort. He follows the splendid sound.  Carefully and methodically he makes his way down the front steps of his little house. He can’t  remember the last time he ventured far. He continues to follow the tune, the one that enticed him 

to wander outside. It’s magical. Absolutely magical. His new neighbour, the one he has been  observing from his kitchen window, is standing on her doorstep, playing music for him! She gives a  little wave in between the notes. He is gripped by a smile. It spreads slowly across his face and he  cups his hands into a wary clap or is it a wave in return? He sways uneasily on his legs to the music,  abandoning his walker.  Suddenly, colour seeps into his world and he notices the simple dazzling vibrancy in his front yard as  he sways in time to the music. The mauve hydrangeas which Maude planted long ago: he observes  are fully bloomed and bright. The late afternoon sun tinges the sky a brilliant pink and small patches  of sunlight glint off surrounding windows. The oncoming twilight creates an excitement in the air  which seems to come alive with insects and encircle the old man, still on his front path, swaying. The  late afternoon sky now turns a shade of vermillion before allowing the stars to shine luminously. He  notices it all while swaying to the music. Neighbours’ faces appear at windows or front doors, also  intrigued by this soothing melody. Splendid colour leaks into his once blue world, as the music  continues. His grin widens.