Miss Julia and the Music Boxes

Pearl Watley Mitchell

© Copyright 2005 by Pearl Watley Mitchell

Miss Julia loved her music boxes. She surely had forty or more and they were gifts from her dear husband of 52 years who had passed away 5 months ago. They were her companionship since dear Frederick was gone and she was alone. Their one child had preceded Freddie in death.

For several weeks, the music boxes had done strange things. Sometimes, one would start playing and Miss Julia would be amazed, but she would just let go and take in the music. She knew she should worry about how it happened, but it was all so peaceful that she just couldn’t bear to turn it off.

Miss Julia’s music boxes were very diverse, mostly from countries where Freddie was stationed in the War. The Japanese music box came from Malaysia. It held a blooming garden with a songbird in the tree. The Geisha girl wore a colorful kimono and her young man was attired in traditional Japanese pants and shirt. The girl looked into his eyes in a manner that Miss Julia had imagined herself looking at Freddie. The clink of the Japanese music made her heart beat in rhythm.

The Mexican music box was bought when Freddie and Julia took a rare vacation. A Spanish Senorita twirled in her full skirt and sandals as the music played. She danced around a sombrero. A caballero, with his sombrero atop his head stood and looked at her admiringly, the way Julia had wanted Freddie to see her. The Latin beat of the music caused Julia's tiny little shoes to tap, and sometimes the music soothed her right into a nap.

A box from India put out captivating Hindu music. The god Krishna with her six arms stood appropriately dressed in Hindu attire, with flowing waves of color in her clothes. The base rotated and the dancing god seemed to be levitating on air as her arms undulated.

There was an African Music Box with three grass huts, a giraffe, elephant and lion. The beat was one of flutes and drums, distinctively African, and she could see in her mind the campfire and dancing natives.

There was a heavenly scene, angels lounging on clouds, baby angels flying around, the sun peeping through the clouds. It played "Amazing Grace" and the lively tune of Scottish bagpipes penetrated the air.

Listening to the integrated rhythm of all the instruments, Miss Julia recalled the music of her childhood. Freddie would come to their big old wooden house, sit in the parlor, and listen for hours as she performed all kinds of music on the piano. His favorite songs were the sound of Native American music. He would sit with his lips curled and whistle a tune much like the flute of the medicine man as he danced around the fire. Sometimes, Freddie would pull out his harp and play with her. In fact, he had found a Native American music box for Julia with an entrancing composition very similar to the folk songs she played.

Suddenly all the music boxes began to play simultaneously as if a huge worldwide orchestra had entered the room. Music from all nations hung on the walls like honey and the air dripped with sweetness. Miss Julia could hear instruments, whistling flutes, trumpets here and there, and various drumbeats. It was as if she were in musical Heaven, the music levitating her to heights she'd never seen. In her mind she visualized angels and harps and heavenly instruments. Miss Julia imagined that this is how the Heavenly Band surely must sound.

Then Miss Julia passed peacefully off to sleep. She didn’t know how long she had dozed, but gently a soft touch awakened her. It caused a tingle in her body. As Miss Julia sat up, then stood up, she looked into the adoring eyes of her dear Freddie. He said not a word, but took her by the hand and led her out the door. The next door neighbor, Mr. Smith, who was mowing his grass, felt a sudden swoop of wind pass by him, but he saw nothing, so he went back to his work,
A few days later, Miss Julia’s neighbors realized that no one had seen her outside for many days. Even the children who visited her to listen and observe the motion on the music boxes could not get her to answer the door.

Finally the children scooted up the road to the Fire Station # 2 and reported the situation to Miss Julia’s good friends, the firemen. In a few minutes a policeman from Station #3 knocked on Miss Julia’s door. There was no answer, so he forced the door open. The group of six children stepped lightly behind him in a line, as he creeped slowly and reverently into the room.

The children were relieved when they spied Miss Julia asleep in the big overstuffed chair where Mr. Freddie took his daily naps. They were amazed at all the music boxes playing at one time. The music was marvelous and relaxing. They wondered how Miss Julia had been able to get them all to play at one time, and strangest of all, they didn’t stop. The music boxes just kept on playing and creating an enormous orchestral concert.

The policeman lifted Miss Julia’s arm and felt her pulse. Then he shook his head. The children were overwhelmed at the music boxes as always, but they had never seen them all play at one time. They watched the Japanese couple twirl on the base, the Medicine Man circle the fire, and the Senorita dance around a sombrero while the caballero clapped his hands.
Suddenly, one of the children commented that two of the angels were gone from the Heavenly scene music box. "Wonder what could have happened to them?" they inquisitively inquired.

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