((a/n: I'm putting these stories in the marching band section because there really is no other place to put it. I do have several marching band stories up, though, if you'd like to read "Behind the Front Sideline" and "This Is So Not My Mambo"))

It was fourth grade, and I was 10 years old. I was also bouncing out of my chair with barely anticipated excitement. I couldn't hear a thing the teacher, or my best friend Stephanie, was saying. Why? Because today was the day to end all days. Today I was going to get my clarinet!

In my old elementary school, you were allowed to take an instrument when you were in 4th grade. Of course, the thing is, you had to wait until you were in 4th grade. You weren't allowed to take one before that, unless you count the little plastic flutophones in 3rd grade. But those flutophones were easy! When I had done that last year, I mastered the basics and the songs quickly, and soon became tired of the slow speed we played them. The flutophones were not enough, I wanted bigger things! More impressive things!

In other words, I wanted a clarinet.

I wanted to play an instrument. I had known that for the longest time. From the minute I got my grubby little toddler hands on this old plastic instrument where you'd make notes by pressing little keys, I knew I wanted an instrument. I was ecstatic when we learned to play the flutophones. . . but that wasn't enough. Come fourth grade you got to select an instrument to learn. Then you'd rent it from the school, have lessons, and band class. . . and you'd learn an instrument!

Several weeks prior, this fellow came in and gave us a presentation on instruments. He played some drums, did a piece on the trumpet that made us all laugh, the tuba, other brass instruments, the flute, and the clarinet. My eyes breezed right over all of these. . . until he came to the clarinet. That's when I realized that that was my instrument, no doubt about it. I was going to learn the clarinet! I had run home to my mom that day with the sign up sheet (you had to fill out a form and bring it back so they could issue a rental to you), yelling about "my clarinet" that I was soon going to learn. My mom rolled her eyes and signed the sheet, and I brought it back the next day.

A week later, the band director (who in this story shall just remain as "Mrs. B") began calling people up to the little music room (chorus and band shared it) to give people their rentals. Each day I'd see more of my fellow fourth graders leave and come back carrying black instrument cases. My friend Stephanie even returned one day with her trumpet. But when would be my turn? It would have to be SOON!

Three days after the calls began, I knew today would be my day. After all, I'd have to get something! Mrs. B seemed nice, and she wouldn't just leave me. Oh, my clarinet. . . so close! So very close! I could almost---

BEEP! I jumped. . . so did the rest of the class. My teacher got up and went to the phone, which was what had beeped. She picked it up. "Hello?"

There was a pause. "Heather and Kathryn? (I have many names, but for the purpose of the story I shall refer to myself by my author's name) You want me to send them down?" Pause. "Alright." She hung up.

"Heather and Kathryn? Mrs. B wants you in the band room."

YES! YES YES YES YES YES. . .

I leaped from my seat and ran out the door, going so fast I nearly forgot Heather was there. I sighed, waiting for her. She came out, a bored look on her face. "Let's go!" I said impatiently. I was getting my clarinet today, and I wasn't going to wait any longer!

"Calm down, Kathryn! It's just an instrument." Huffed Heather. She was a rather take-it-as-it-comes kind of person, not to be excited over anything. Stupid Heather, making me wait! I scowled at her. "Hurry up!" I said, running ahead.

We finally reached the band room, after what seemed like ages. I opened the door and bounced happily in. Nothing was going to ruin my happiness today, because I was getting my clarinet!

Mrs. B saw us. "Come in, sit down." She said, beckoning for us to sit in two of the seats up front. "Kathryn and Heather, am I correct?"

"I'm Kathryn!" I said happily. Kathryn who would soon be a clarinet player! "And I'm Heather." Replied Heather nonchalantly.

"I see." Mrs. B paused. "You both wanted to learn the clarinet, and rent one as an instrument?" She inquired.

"YES! Yesyesyesyesyes. . ." I cried

She smiled. "Calm down, Kathryn. And you too, Heather?"

"I don't care. Why not." Came Heather's reply. Really!

"I'm afraid then I have some bad news for you." Mrs. B said.

Now, here's the part in which fate comes in to play. A strange twist of fate that changed my entire life.

"There are no more clarinets available for rent."

WHAAAAATTTT???

NO WAY! NO NO NO NO WAY WAY WAY WAY. . .

My fourth grade mind was incapable of seeing anything else at that moment except defeat and disappointment. No clarinet? None? I couldn't play my clarinet? I would have one?

I began slowly sliding out of my seat, as they do in the cartoons when someone slops into a puddle, a picture of abject defeat. Oh, my dreams! My longing to play at the Arbor Day concert since I was in kindergarten, gone! Gone in a single flash, gone because some scumbag took the last clarinet! Oh, woe is me! Oh defeat! Oh bitter ends!

"Okay." Heather said. "That's okay. I'll go back to class now." And Heather got up and left, leaving me, a puddle of nothing, on the chair. Oh, sorrow! Defeat! Desolation!

"I see you're disappointed." Said Mrs. B.

Understatement of the century.

"I wanted to play the clarinet," I said mournfully, picking myself up and slumping into the chair. "I did. I waited for this day so I can have my clarinet. I waited and waited. . ." I gave my voice a sad tinge, so maybe she'd feel sorry for me and get me a clarinet anyway.

"You really had your heart set on this, didn't you?" She looked sympathetic.

"Yes." I said sadly.

"Hmm." She paused. "Is there any other instrument that you'd like to play?"

"No." I replied. Were there any other instruments? No, there was my clarinet, and nothing else. Nothing mattered if I didn't have my clarinet.

But the teacher was determined. "Flute?" She offered.

"Too high." Gah, not the flute!

"Drums?"

"Too loud." Drums were for boys.

"The trumpet?"

"Too common." We had dozens of trumpet players in our band. Oh, agony, oh defeat. . .

Then, Mrs. B made the most random suggestion of her life-and mine. A suggestion, I later found out, that she doesn't usually make to elementary school kids.

"Well, how about the oboe?"

The what?

"Oboe? What's that?" I asked. I had no concept of what it was, being as I'd never heard the name spoken before the day. But it was an instrument that was unknown to me, so of course I was rather interested.

"Let me show you." Mrs. B went to a big closet full of instruments and opened it. She shuffled through and then came out with a black case. And it was the size of a clarinet case, about!

She brought the unknown case over to me. "This is an oboe." She popped it open.

It looked kinda like a clarinet. It was in three pieces and it was black with these shiny silver keys. The end of it didn't look like a clarinet, it was rounder and weird shaped. It had lots of cool shiny keys, and it was. . . like a clarinet!

The strange instrument appealed to me almost immediately. "It looks weird," I said. "How do you put it together?" Mrs. B took it out and fitted the three pieces together, showing me where they go. "Hold it." She handed me this. . . oboe.

I took the instrument in my hands. The keys were cold, and when I held it it was like holding a clarinet. It was the same size as one, and it was long and black and stuff.

I liked it.

I smiled as I continued to look over this odd new instrument. It was not a clarinet, but it was like one! And it was so shiny!

"I like it!" I exclaimed to Mrs. B. "It's so cool!"

Mrs. B smiled. "And did you know that when you start playing it, it sounds like a goose?"

A goose? Cool! That was it, I loved it.

"I like it! A lot!"

"Do you want to learn to play it?"

"Yes!" I said, suddenly excited with my own realization. I wanted to play this instrument! I wanted to sound like a goose, and to play this clarinet- not-really thing! It was cool!

Mrs. B seemed very happy. She took out a piece of paper and wrote three things down: "Jones, oboe reeds, medium soft (they are double reeds), cork grease, lesson book" and handed it to me. "Here's the things you'll have to get for the oboe. The reeds are not like clarinet reeds, they are double reeds." I got this image of two clarinet reeds, one on top of another, when she said that. "Bring them in next Wednesday, and I'll give you the oboe and your first lesson. How's that?"

"That's great! I'll get it! Oh, I can't wait!"

She smiled again, and handed me a new permission form. "Give this to your mom. Since you're going to be renting an oboe, I need your mom to sign a new permission form."

"Okay!" I snatched it out of her hands, clutching it happily to my chest along with the note of supplies I would need. Then I bounced happily out of the band room, my spirits soaring. I wasn't going to play the clarinet, I was going to play. . .

The oboe!

((So, how'd that sound? Make any sense at all? This was when I was in fourth grade, so of course it should be a bit childish. I'll continue even if I don't get lots of reviews because I want to write these stories, but reviews are VERY VERY nice and VERY MUCH appreciated))