All Martin has to do is practice his flute in the yard... but it's going to take a lot of focus!
It was a beautiful sunny day when Martin went out into his backyard. It would have been a perfect day to play. But Martin wasn’t out there to play. At least, not that kind of play.
His mother had sent him out there so that he could practice his flute. When she had bought him the flute (which was very expensive, as she told Martin as often as possible) he had promised to practice at least thirty minutes every day. But it can be difficult to concentrate on something as unexciting as a flute when your room is full of cool stuff like a TV, video games and the internet.
So it was that Martin’s mother sent him to the backyard to practice, where there would be no distractions.
Or, so she thought.
Martin sat down on the grass and brought the flute to his lips. He began practicing his fingering exercises with his eyes closed. You have to close your eyes, you know, when you want to concentrate on stuff. Anyway, he played for a good forty or fifty seconds before he heard a familiar sound:
The panting of his dog, Larry.
“Sorry, Larry,” said Martin. “I can’t play right now. I have to practice my flute.”
Larry was, understandably, disappointed, but he understood the importance of practicing when you are learning a musical instrument, so he went away and found something else to do.
Martin resumed his fingering exercises but was soon interrupted again.
He looked in the direction of the voice and saw the top half of the face of his friend/next door neighbor, Kris, peering at him from over the top of the fence which separated their respective yards.
“I just got the new Action Dash movie!” she said. “Want to come over and check it out?”
Well, that’s exactly what Martin wanted to do, cuz he loved the Action Dash movies. But, he shook his head and said, “Sorry, Kris. I can’t watch a movie right now. I have to practice my flute.”
Kris, like Larry, seemed disappointed that Martin had said no. But she also understood that you have to practice a lot when you are learning a musical instrument. So, she went into her house and watched Action Dash 4: Legal Action all by herself.
Again, Martin was alone with his flute. He closed his eyes and resumed his fingering exercises. He must have gotten in a good five minutes before he felt it. The ground was beginning to move. An earthquake, he thought? Then he looked to his left and saw the ground next to him begin to bulge. As if something was pushing up from under the ground. The next thing he knew, the tip of a shovel had broken through the ground.
Someone had tunneled into his yard!
This someone turned out to be a Grizzled Old Prospector.
“Dagnab it!” said the Grizzled Old Prospector. “I thought for sure I’d find gold here.”
“You’re digging for gold?” Martin asked.
“Sure am, Sonny! Hey, want to come with me? We can split any gold we find fifty-fifty.”
That did sound like fun, but Martin just said, “Sorry, Grizzled Old Prospector I can’t dig for gold right now. I have to practice my flute.”
“That’s too bad. But I understand. After all, I had to practice a lot when I was learning the banjo. Good luck, Kid!” With that the Grizzled Old Prospector disappeared into the hole he had dug.
Martin only had a few more minutes of practicing before he was interrupted again. Like the last time, he felt the ground move under his butt, but this time it didn’t feel like an earthquake.
From far away, Martin heard the loud “Whams” getting closer and closer. Finally, he saw what was causing them:
A kangaroo jumped over the neighbors’ fence and into his yard.
“G’day, mate!” said the Kangaroo (kangaroos come from Australia, you know).
“What are you doing?” asked Martin.
“Me? Why I’m trying to set the world record for Most Backyards Jumped In A Row. Your backyard is the forty-seventh I’ve jumped into. I’ve almost broken the record. Want to climb on my back and come with me the rest of the way? There’s gonna be a big party when I finish. With cake and ice cream and pizza with meatballs and olives!”
Martin wanted to go with the Kangaroo. He wanted to ride on his back and bounce through the air. He wanted cake and ice cream. And pizza with meatballs and olives was his absolute favorite food in the entire world.
“Sorry, Kangaroo,” said Martin, rather sadly. “I can’t come with you right now. I have to practice my flute.”
“Okay. So long, mate!” And the Kangaroo bounced away, because he understood that you have to practice a lot when you’re learning a musical instrument.
Martin went back to his flute, trying hard to think about the proper placement of his thumbs and pinkies, and not about playing with his dog or watching a movie with his friend or digging for gold or riding on a kangaroos back. He tried to concentrate on the little holes in the flute and not on all the fun he was missing out on.
In fact, he was concentrating so hard, he almost didn’t hear the spaceship landing a few feet away from him.
“Greetings, Earth Child!” said the Space Aliens as they got out of the spaceship. “We’re looking for new recruits to join our team of adventurers. Want to come through space with us?”
Before Martin could answer, a brilliant pink light appeared right next to the spaceship and a wizard materialized out of thin air.
“Good morrow, mortal child!” said the Wizard. “I seek a sorcerer’s apprentice to come with me on my travels and learn how to perform magic. Would you care to go on a quest through an enchanted realm?”
Before Martin could answer, there was a strange noise and a big blue box appeared out of nowhere. A strange lady in a long coat popped her head out and said, “Hi there! Anyone here want to come with me in my time machine? I know it looks a bit small but, trust me, it’s bigger—”
Martin was very upset. He was missing out on so much cool stuff. He wanted to play with his dog or watch a movie with his friend or dig for gold with the Grizzled Old Prospector or bounce around with the Kangaroo or go to space with the Aliens or go on a quest with the Wizard or travel through time with the Strange Lady…
But he couldn’t.
“I can’t go with any of you right now! I have to practice my flute!!”
It was his mother’s voice. He opened his eyes (they had been clenched shut while he was yelling) and saw her standing at the back door looking at him.
“What is going on out here?” she asked.
Martin looked around the yard. No big blue box. No Wizard. No spaceship. No foot prints where the Kangaroo had landed. No hole where the Grizzled Old Prospector had appeared. It was as if none of it ever happened.
“Um…nothing?” he said. “I’m just…practicing…my flute.”
“Oh. Well, good. Anyway, it’s been thirty minutes so you can stop for the day if you want.”
So, Martin and Larry went next door to watch Action Dash with Kris.
1. In this story, a lot of things happened in Martin’s backyard while he was trying to practice his flute. What do you think would have happened if he had gone and had adventures with the people who popped up in his yard?
2. Why do you think it can be important to stick with things?