Ah! Master looked at me! I looked up attentively, and she looked away. My shoulders slumped as I watched her return to fiddling with some paper, and I sighed silently. More homework, I was sure of it. She had far too much lately. Her tears at night always put her to sleep before I could sing to her, and I was getting increasingly worried. She rested her head on her desk and made puttering sounds with her lips. I could see how bored she was.
She glanced back at me, then shook her head and sat back up. “I have to finish this before I can play, she told herself. My heart sank. She said that each day, but she always completed her work so late, she ran out of energy.
Never before had I seen any child worked so hard in any generation, unless he chose to. Just once, I wanted to tell er that everything would be fine. I wanted to reassure her before I was put away to be given to the next generation. She was so tired and lonely.
Master never spoke of why she had to work so much. I sometimes felt like I could help her, if she just said what was wrong. I couldn’t move, but that had never been a problem before. She used to say I always made her feel better.
I was certain I could do it again, if only she let me.
The wait was long as she finished her work, and the room was dark except for her dim desk lantern. She closed her door and stripped her shoes, long socks, skirt, vest, and her blouse, and quickly removed her underwear. Footsteps approached, and she pulled on her worst-looking nightclothes, then put me away in my case with a zip so fast it made me worry.
From my case, I could hear nothing, and so I slept the night and much of the day, until Master returned from school and pulled me out of my case again. Immediately, she got to work on her homework as I laid in my open case. She seemed in a rush, so I quietly waited. I couldn’t move on my own, and couldn’t see her as she worked, but the familiar scratch of pen on paper filled the room. If she looked toward me, I couldn’t tell.
Several days passed, and all I saw of her was her face as she opened or closed my case. Eventually, time blended together. She opened me lovingly, but always put me away in a hurry after she changed into her pajamas. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, she was intent on wearing her least pretty gowns at night, and bathed only in the mornings.
Regardless of my wants, time moved forward, and a year passed. She began to finish her homework earlier, and spent time with me again. Even if the time was brief and half-hearted, I was thankful, and those few times she let me sing, I did with gusto and love. My reward was a small smile that made my heart feel ready to explode.
As the days passed, she spent more time holding me. She began to talk to me as I sang for her, telling me stories of strange places and peoples. To me, it all seemed a strange fantasy, but it was a fun fantasy.
Eventually, a day came when she didn’t pull me out of my case at all. Time seemed to stop entirely for me as I slept much of the time away, with nothing else to do.
When my case was finally opened again, Master looked much older, and her face had a lot of pain written on it. Something was wrong. She pulled me from my case and held me in her shaking hands. They were larger than before. Slowly, she took a deep breath, and let me sing. I sang for her, as lively as I could, and after a time, she joined in the familiar melody with a broken voice. Her hands almost stopped my song, but I encouraged her to keep going. I was so sure that if she kept going, she would feel better.
I was right, and she began to smile as the two of us continued to sing together. Her words changed and stalled, and I listened as she told me a story that was very painful. I couldn’t comprehend it, but I gave her my love just as much as I always did, and even as he tears fell, I sang for her.
Footsteps approached, and she stopped me suddenly. It hurt so much to stop! She dropped me on the bed as she stood, and the door opened. Her father entered.
“I told you not to get that stupid thing out anymore! It’ll wake your mother! Throw that thing out before I do!” He snarled and shot a glare at me that felt like he stabbed me. Not long ago, he bought me for Master! I remembered that day still! He had been so happy for her to have me.
Master quickly agreed and shoved me into my case again. A tear fell onto me as she did, and although I tried to reassure her, no sound came out.
More time passed in the darkness, until Master opened me and laid me out on a table in the hot sun. I was outside, and a price tag was tied to me. I was for sale again.
Patiently, I waited. I could see into the open door of the house, and as Master went inside, something felt wrong. She was moving oddly. She picked something up and walked to the back door, where there was a small yard.
As soon as she was out of sight, a little boy with a knife ran to me and cut into me to look inside. The damage would be expensive to repair– more than my price tag said.
Satisfied now that my insides weren’t inside anymore, the boys ran off, and an older man ran his hand along me. he slowly picked me up, left money on the table, and carried me away.
I wanted to sing for him, to thank him for saving me from the boys, but he would not allow it, and instead tossed me into a metal bin on the side of the street.