Charlie’s Room: Musical Chair

It was a crisp fall morning. Isaac stood at the open door and breathed in the cool air. It smelled like damp earth and fallen leaves. High overhead, the sky was a brilliant blue, hidden only by a few fluffy white clouds.

Marianne and Charlie had already disappeared around the corner in their search for the prettiest leaves. Isaac stepped outside and closed the door behind him. He hadn’t been invited on today’s leaf hunt, but perhaps he could go out on a walk of his own. It was too nice out to stay inside all day.

He considered following Marianne and Charlie, but he didn’t want to intrude on their mother and son time. He knew how much he valued his time reading Charlie bedtime stories at night. He was growing up so quickly. Time seemed to go by faster and faster lately. Wasn’t it still summer last week?

Isaac turned the opposite corner, the cool fall day now feeling a little bittersweet. But, the trees were bright red and yellow and brown and orange. He soon slowed his pace and marveled at the variety of colors.

He rounded another corner and stopped. A yard sale? This late in the year? How unusual. The sign directed him down the driveway towards the garage.

The location made sense with the unpredictable fall weather. He followed a trio of older ladies down the driveway. They glanced back at him and smiled. He waved back. He often saw them walking through the neighborhood on the weekends.

“It’s too bad it’s not an estate sale,” one of the ladies said. “I love estate sales.”

“It’s so interesting to see what there is,” another agreed cheerfully.

“There’ll be another, soon enough,” the last predicted.

For a second he saw the faces of the three fates superimposed over the usual cheerful faces he knew. Isaac shivered and turned away from the wall of books that the ladies were picking through. Maybe he’d look at the books later.

Instead he walked along a far wall lined with furniture. There was a bed frame and an end table and a large, fake tree in a basket. In the corner, there was a tall, white chair, the kind that was usually part of a set that circled a matching table.

There was a sign taped to the chair that said “musical chair.” Below this there was a price and nothing else, no explanation. What did the sign mean?

Isaac glanced over at the ladies, heads bent together over some large, dusty book. Was he in the right place at the right time once again? He looked back at the chair, eyes narrowed. This could be dangerous.

The game musical chairs had multiple rounds. In every round there was one less chair than the number of people playing. The players rounded the circle of chairs until the music stopped playing, then they sat. The player without a chair left the game, and another chair was taken away.

If this was a musical chair, would it disappear? Would someone who sat on it be taken away? Where would they go?

Isaac looked around the garage. There was a man sitting at a table next to the books. He had a cash box on the table, and was accepting payment from someone for a pair of bowling shoes. He seemed normal enough, but that didn’t really mean anything.

Isaac looked back at the chair. Should he try sitting on it? Perhaps it was simply a chair that made music somehow. He crouched down and looked under the seat. There wasn’t a music box. And, even though he’d once seen a cartoon where someone played the rungs on the back of a chair like a xylophone, this didn’t seem like the right sort of chair.

Well, obviously it was time to take the next step. It was the most reasonable way to get the answers he needed. He strode across the garage, keeping a bit of distance between himself and the ladies. He didn’t want to disturb them.

“What does the sign mean on the chair over there?” he asked.

The man looked up. “The white one?”

Isaac nodded. “It says ‘musical chair’.”

The man chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “It’s the last one standing. The others all broke, one by one, and then the table did too. I was writing the sign and it just came to me. Funny, right?”

“Right.” Isaac smiled. Well that was one mystery solved. The chair wasn’t dangerous after all. He chuckled. “Very clever.”

The man beamed, then turned to sell a table lamp shaped like a pig. Isaac considered going back to look through the books, then reconsidered. He felt like he’d dodged something terrible somehow. It would probably be best to quit while he was ahead.

He walked back down the driveway and heard footsteps behind him. He glanced back over his shoulder. It was the trio of older ladies. They were following him.

“That was lovely, wasn’t it,” one of them said.

“We’ll be back here in what, two weeks?” another asked.

“Sounds about right,” the third said cheerfully.

Isaac hurried down the driveway and walked straight home. Some mysteries didn’t need to be solved. This was one he’d leave well enough alone.