The Harp

By Seth Huber

The tree was plastic. Purple plexiglass icicles were on the ceiling.
Thirty blinking little lights were on the fence. A light broke off the top
of the fence and fell on a wooden elf with a crash. That was when Bob
noticed the Christmas display.

Bob had dark gray eyes and dark brown hair. So did his dog, Jack,
except Jack also had big white splotches in some places. Bob was
parsimonious and selfish. And he hated Christmas a lot.

"All it is is a reason for stores to get lots of money," he would say
about it. "Woof woof woof, woof-woof," Jack would bark, and Bob
would know that his dog was agreeing with him. But Jack usually really
meant something like, "Hey, can we go eat some chicken bones?".
Bob was looking for something to get for his little four-year old
daughter who still believed in Santa and magic and all that rubbish. He
picked out white socks and underwear. As he paid for the uninteresting
presents, he noticed an exasperating little jingling sound outside. Bob
took the clothes and left.

Outside it was chilly and dark. Tomorrow would be the longest night
and the shortest day-the winter solstice. Bob felt drawn to take a
quarter out of his pocket and give it to the man jingling the bell for
poor children who could not get presents.

The old man looked kindly at Bob, then said, "I need you to do me a

"Yeah, what? I'm not going to give you any more money, you know,"
Bob told him, with a contemptible look.

"No, I need you to go to the woods and find my golden harp. It
would mean so much to me," pleaded the man.

"Forget it. I'm not looking for your dumb old harp," sneered Bob. And
with that he drove home.

The next day, Bob went for his daily stroll with his dog, Jack, in the
nearby forest. He just got there when Jack started barking very loudly
and pulling Jack toward an unknown territory of the forest.

"Be quiet, you silly old mutt", growled Bob. But Jack continued to
drag him towards a peculiar clearing that he had never noticed before.

There, his dog stopped. Bob then heard the very faint sound of a
harp playing. Since he had nothing to do, he walked in the direction of
the music.

After a few hours, Bob came to a tiny stream that was flowing across
his path.

Since Bob was parched, he said to himself, "This water looks
remarkably delicious to drink." He was just about to put his hands in
the water when Jack bit his pant leg, pulling him back away from the

"Jack, let me go! I'm thirsty," yelled Bob at his dog. He was about
to place his hands back in the water again, when all of a sudden, a
tremendous amount of water came rushing down, turning the gentle,
little stream into a vast, rushing river.

"Thank you for pulling me back, Jack," praised Bob. I guess we're
going to have to turn back".

But when he turned around, he saw that where he had just come from
was also blocked by the river. He looked around and discovered that
he was on a slowly shrinking little island.

Jack again bit his pant leg, but this time he pulled Bob towards the

"No! NO!", screamed Bob, but, while yelling his second "no", he fell
into the river--well, not exactly 'in', but on top of it. Bob slowly stood
up and realized that he could walk over the "water"-it was just an

After about ten minutes, he discovered yet another problem.

He found a witch sitting on a vacuum cleaner, eating a peanut butter
sandwich. He could tell she was a witch because of the wide-brimmed,
cone-shaped black hat, the long nose with the wart on the end of it,
and the little black cat hiding under the folds of her raven robe.

The witch became aware of Bob and said in a scratchy voice, "What
do you want?". Bob stuttered for a few seconds, staring at the vacuum
cleaner, then said, "Well, I'm looking for....for....a golden harp."

"Oh, it's just a little bit further on this path, then a wee bit to the
right. And stop gawking at my vacuum cleaner. Brooms are

"Well, um, thank you," uttered Bob, "Goodbye".

Bob set forth down the trail and the witch yelled at him, "Are you
sure you don't want one of my apples?" Bob hollered back, "No, thank
you!", because Bob knew his fairy tales and to avoid witch's apples.

After about twenty minutes, while following the witch's directions, he
saw the harp.

It was resting on a slab of rock, nestled among ferns, being played
by...well...nothing. It sounded like golden sundrops falling into water-if
this could make a sound-while making beautiful music. And it was
really golden. It was the color of Christmas garlands, and kings' crowns,
and angel's wings.

Bob bent over to the harp and felt its warmth. He wasn't sure if the
radiance was from the harp itself or from the music it was making.

It was just around midnight by now, and he was tired. Additionally,
Jack wouldn't move another inch without sleeping, so Bob stroked the
harp one last time and fell asleep with his dog on a strangely warm
patch of clover.

The next day, Bob woke up feeling very good. He had ideas of
decorating his house and what a wonderful life he had and what a
great daughter he had and...

"Come on, Jack," Bob instructed his dog to come home. "Let's
bring this harp to that old man."

As they went home, he felt odd about himself, like he wasn't the
same person as before. When he met the witch on the way back, she
picked up her cat and croaked, "Hello again. Would you like a little
ride home?," and this time Bob thought that she wasn't going to turn
him into a frog so he agreed.

The ride back to the river was swift. "Sorry, but I can't cross over
water. You'll have to hike the rest of the way," the witch informed him.

Bob again walked over the river and then he noticed that he
wasn't holding the harp anymore. It was walking-jumping-floating right
beside him. The at him and continued to
walk-jump-float along.

Nothing else interesting happened the rest of the way except
that Bob felt a lot happier and nicer than he had ever been before.
When he got back to the store, he gave the harp to the bell-ringing
man and said "Here. What did you want it for?"

The man continued to ring his bell, then said "Well, it was a

"For who?"

"Well, it was a present."

"For who?"

"It was a present."


"Actually, it was for you." concluded the man, and then he
stopped paying attention to Bob.

When Bob went home, he struggled with the harp to wrap it up
for his daughter and managed to get it in a box and put the underwear
and socks in his daughter's drawer because clothes like that aren't very
good presents. On Christmas, his daughter unwrapped the harp.

"Oh, this is great! I love it! Thank you!" exclaimed his daughter
when she saw the harp's brilliance. And she was even more amazed
when it started floating around and playing by itself. The rest of the
day (and many other days too) were spent learning to play the harp
and just having fun.

Next year, a man named John paid the bell-ringing man a

The End

"The Harp" belongs purely to Seth Huber © 1996

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