By P.J. Belding
It was the first day of grade three and Bethany was thrilled. She was finally old enough to join the school concert band.
“It’s time to pick your instruments!” Mrs Murphy, the music teacher, said.
Ten kids picked the tuba; seven kids picked the flute; five kids picked the clarinet; six kids picked the saxophone, and two kids picked the timpani drum. Bethany didn’t want to play the tuba, or the flute, or the clarinet, or the saxophone, and she walked right by the timpani drum as if it didn’t exist.
Bethany picked the bagpipes.
“No Bethany, the bagpipes are off-limits. Absolutely no bagpipes,” Mrs Murphy said.
“Why?” asked Bethany.
“They belong to me. I don’t let anybody play them. But I’ve got something extra special for you over here…”
Mrs Murphy unlocked a big cabinet full of shiny instruments.
“How about a brand new… CELLO!”
“No,” said Bethany.
“How about a tremendously loud…TROMBONE!”
“No,” said Bethany.
“Ok. How about a cool, fancy… ELECTRIC GUITAR!”
“Hmmm…no,” said Bethany.
“Ok then…how about a super-extra-unique, spell-binding, heart-pounding…DIDGERIDOO!”
“No. I want the bagpipes.”
“But the bagpipes are too hard to play.”
“I can learn.”
“But they’re mine!”
“Not anymore,” Bethany said.
“Alright fine,” Mrs Murphy said, “but you’ll be sorry. Mark my words…”
“Yeah sure…” Bethany said, rolling her eyes.
Bethany blew into the bagpipes and made the most awful, gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing, headache-causing, eardrum-piercing, screech of a sound. Everyone in the room covered their ears for safety. Bethany stopped blowing. A giant smile stretched across her face.
“You’re going to have to practice those bagpipes, Bethany. Practice every night for five hours, non-stop. Then practice all through the night. Then practice again for one hour in the morning before school. I don’t want to hear that sound again until you know how to play them properly.”
“That’s fine,” Bethany said, “I’ll practice one hundred times more than anyone else, and soon I’ll be the best piper in the WORLD!.”
Bethany brought the bagpipes home. She showed her parents. Bethany’s mother was a brilliant, award-winning scientist, and her father was a brilliant award-winning plumber. They both loved music, but they’d never seen real bagpipes, and they hadn’t the faintest idea what they sounded like.
“Play us a song Bethany,” the father said.
Bethany took a big long breath, then blew as hard as she could into the bagpipes. She made the most terrible, spine- chilling, hair-raising, window-shattering, screech of a sound.
“STOP!” her parents yelled.
“Whaaa?” Bethany said.
“That was awful. Don’t you ever do that again for as long as you live!” her mother said.
“Don’t worry. I’m going to practice, practice, practice. I’m going to practice harder than anyone else in the whole world. I’m going to be the best piper who ever LIVED!.”
“Where do you plan on practising?”
“Everywhere! Wherever I go, the bagpipes go!”
She blew and the windows shattered into a million pieces, the walls cracked, and the birds fell out of the sky.
“BETHANY!” her parents screamed.
“Whaaa?” she said.
“I’ll give you a giant bag of candy if you never play that again,” her father said.
“I’ll give you ten giant bags of candy,” her mother said.
“Ok ok ok, we’ll give you one HUNDRED bags of candy to NEVER play the bagpipes again!”
Bethany blew into the bagpipes.
“NOOOO!” the parents screamed, diving for cover. The roof caved in over their heads.
Bethany’s parents got up, wiping away the dust and debris, then they went into the kitchen.
“We need to do something,” her mother said.
“You’re a scientist, think of something…” said Bethany’s father.
“Ok I’ve got an idea!” the mother said, “We can install my new mini-super-particle-collider inside the bagpipes…”
“A mini particle-collider. It’s my newest invention. It’s a tiny gadget that can smash together subatomic particles; it’ll create a wormhole that will suck up all the sound like a vacuum, and send it into another dimension…”
“That’s brilliant! But how are we going to get the bagpipes away from her?” the father asked.
“Allow me…” Bethany’s mother said. “Bethany…oh, Bethany…your father needs to clean your bagpipes. Gotta keep em clean…clean ’em every day…”
“I’ll clean them myself,” Bethany said.
“No! Your father can clean them. After all, he’s a plumber, and plumbers are experts at cleaning pipes.”
Bethany thought for a moment. “That’s true…Ok, but don’t be long…I need to practice. I’m going to be the greatest piper in the whole UNIVERSE!”
The parents grabbed the bagpipes and rushed to the basement where the mother kept her secret science laboratory. She carefully placed the mini super-particle-collider into the bagpipes.
“There! Next time she blows into these ghastly things, the sound will get sucked up and sent into another world.” They both laughed like crazy people.
They brought the bagpipes back upstairs and gave them to Bethany.
“Good as new. Give it a try…”
Bethany looked it over. She slowly placed her lips to the bagpipes. She blew as hard as she could, harder than she ever had before. But there was no sound. Something was wrong. The parents looked at each other, giddy with glee. Bethany took the deepest breath she’d ever taken in her whole life and she blew and blew and blew.
Something strange happened…
Everything around them started to swirl and twirl like a big whirlpool. All the colours blended into one murky mess until everything disappeared in a puff. The gadget didn’t just suck up the sound; it sucked up EVERYTHING.
Bethany and her parents found themselves in a new dimension consisting entirely of… BAGPIPES! The trees were pipes, and the plants and flowers were pipes. The bagpipes played everywhere; loud and constant. There was no escaping the sound of bagpipes. The parents tried to plug their ears but it was no use. They were doomed to hear bagpipes for the rest of eternity.
As for Bethany, she frolicked away over the tartan hills, smiling and laughing, and playing her bagpipes like a virtuoso. There, in the Land of Eternal Bagpipes, she was the greatest piper who ever lived.