'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 24 April 2015

KBR Short Story: The Bugle

by Melanie Hill

Josh packed away his tuba. He was relieved the exam was over. There were only two small mistakesthat he could recall.

“Well done Josh,” said Mr. Cole, patting Josh’s shoulder. “I have another challenge for you. It’s a short term project but, an important one.”

Josh followed Mr. Cole into the music storage room. It was a treasure trove of brass, wind, string and percussion instruments. They were all calling out to be played. In the left corner, at the bottom Mr. Cole pulled out a small case. The leather was faded and the latches might have been gold once. Inside lay a small trumpet-like instrument without valves.

“It’s a bugle,” said Josh.

“It was my great-grandfather’s. I would like you to play it at the school’s Anzac Day ceremony this year. What do you think?”

Only using his breath to control the tune was harder than hitting the notes with his fingers. Josh’s cheeks were sore. He hadn’t had one practice without making a mistake. There was no way he could tell Mr. Cole he didn’t want to play, but then the day of the ceremony arrived.

His Nan poked her head through the backstage curtain. “Are you ready Luv? I spoke to your Mum. She wishes she could be here but because she can’t, she’d like you to wear these.” Nan opened a green felt pocket and pulled out his Mum’s medals. As if he wasn’t nervous enough.

“I’m wearing mine too,” said Nan, “so you won’t be the only one.” She smiled as she pinned the medals onto his school blazer. “I’ll be in the front, off to the side, filming you.”

“Great,” sighed Josh.

Josh stood on the stage. When the Principal spoke the words, “We will remember them,” Josh brought the shaking bugle up to his lips and remembered what Mr. Cole told him, “The Last Post is a final farewell for all who died in war. You are telling them they can rest, they have done their job.”

Josh’s solemn, sad notes echoed around the hall. The last few hung in the air then slowly drifted away. Some of the teachers wiped tears from their eyes. Josh lowered his head. He was half way, but his hands were still shaking.

After the minute silence, Mr. Cole gave the signal. Again, Josh brought the bugle to his lips and he remembered,“The Rouse is a reminder that the dead are in a better place. It’s a call to the living to start their day.” He would play it for his Mum and her ship’s company. Bright notes blasted from the small bugle. No one seemed to notice the slight warble in the middle.

At the end, a red-eyed Mr. Cole gave him a thumbs up. Josh felt his cheeks heat up. Nan, whose broad toothy grin meant a lot, was pointing to the person in a white uniform next to her.

“Mum!” Josh leapt down the stairs.

She squeezed him and said, “You played perfectly.”

During her 18 years in the Air Force, Melanie wrote poems and stories about her experiences. Now she loves using words to weave poems and invent stories for children. Visit Melanie on Facebook or at her blog, View from the Hill.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.