King David

David reached under the bed and pulled out a wooden box. It was small and plain, a cheap little box with a cheap little clasp that had been opened so many times over the years that it didn’t close properly, as if resigned to the fact that if it did, it would only be opened again before any meaningful time had elapsed, because David reached for the box like a smoker reaches for his cigarettes, or a mother reaches for her baby, anxiously, lovingly, and frequently.

In the box was a walkman. David took it out and slipped the headphones over his head. He pressed the play button, which stuck a little, and after a few seconds of hissing and crackling a woman’s voice filled his ears.

‘Very moving. Scherzo: Wuchtig from Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A minor. Lorin Maazel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.’ Her voice was as smooth as warm honey, and the sound of it produced a look of lazy satisfaction on David’s face.

‘Now, just to remind you, we are taking your requests and the next piece is dedicated to a very special someone, David, who was born in the early hours last night. From your adoring uncle, Tom.’ The woman’s intonation changed as if reading from a page and David lent forward to catch his favourite words, ‘For special David who is destined to great things.’ David smiled. The woman continued, ‘And what better way to trumpet in a new life than Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.’

The opening strains of music were interrupted by a click. David let the silence fill his head. After a while he shivered, suddenly cold, and quickly put the Walkman back in the box. This was returned under the bed.