Piano Garden Trouble Upright piano with sprouts in egg cartons on the back

A Melody Restored | The Ruby Stories

     Opening the blinds in the living room, which also served as their family’s music room, Ruby Randall sat on the piano bench and began to play. First, she practiced scales and arpeggios. She wasn’t fond of scales, but the arpeggios could be fun – especially when she learned to play them fast.

     With those all done, she opened the hymnal and flipped over the pages until she reached the song she was currently learning to improvise: The Lord’s Prayer. She was just winding up her practice session when her sister Amber came in.

     “Mind if I water my garden?”

     “Nope. I was just finishing.” Ruby looked at the row of sprouts lined up in egg cartons on the back of her piano.

     “It doesn’t look like your plants are growing very much,” she said casually.

     Amber lifted her chin and began pouring water into one of her eggshell planters. “They will. Just give them time.”

     Ruby made no more comment, just gave the pale, spindly sprouts another glance before she left the room.

     When Amber had asked to use her piano as a place for sprouting her plants, Ruby had been skeptical. Water and dirt just didn’t seem to mix with her precious piano. This wasn’t just any piano after all. It was the one her grandmother had learned to play on when she began taking lessons late in life.

     It was also the one Ruby had taken her first lesson on when she had been only eight years old, her patient grandma standing by her side and showing her just how to hold her hands. When Grandma had passed away a few years ago, the piano became Ruby’s, and she played it almost every day. No, that piano could never be replaced if something happened to it, and it wasn’t meant for a garden.

     “But the back of the piano gets a lot of sun and would be the perfect spot for them to grow. I would be so careful when I water,” Amber had argued.

     Ruby, who could scarcely ever say no to an eloquent appeal, had relented. And her precious piano soon became nursery to baby plants that showed signs of remaining babies for the entirety of their short lives.

*               *               *               *               *

     A couple of weeks after Ruby commented on the sprouts’ lack of growth, Amber announced that it was time for her little plants to move out to the garden. She tried to say it bravely, but it was obvious she was disappointed. Ruby made no answer, but their brother Jasper didn’t seem to notice Amber’s downcast expression.

     “Aren’t they kind of small to be moved?”

     “They are little, but maybe it’s because they need more space to grow,” Amber said hopefully. “Little eggshells don’t give them much room.”

     Ruby watched as Amber picked up the first egg carton and cradled it in her hands. Her eyes fell from the sprouts to her piano top, and she gasped.

     “Oh, no!”

     Amber’s head shot up. “What’s wrong?”

     “My piano. It’s ruined!” Ruby ran her hand over the many little rings where the egg cartons had sat. The water had apparently leaked through the egg shells and cardboard egg cartons, to settle in the wood finish of her beloved instrument.

     “Oh, no!” Amber echoed Ruby’s exclamation, a look of panic catching her face. “I’m so sorry, Ruby. I had no idea the water was leaking.”

     Jasper came over and grimly surveyed the damage. Ruby picked up another egg carton. The same damage prevailed, only worse this time if possible.

     “I’m so sorry, Ruby,” Amber repeated helplessly.

     “I should never have let you use my piano to grow your plants. Now the plants are no good, and neither is my piano.” Ruby plunked the egg carton on the floor and fled, tears spilling down her cheeks.

     At that moment, it didn’t seem to matter that the piano still played as well as ever. All those little water spots marching across the back of it proclaimed that her instrument was ruined – its beauty gone forever.

     Rushing outside, Ruby went straight to the hammock and climbed in. When she finally stopped crying, she lay there on her back, staring at the sky overhead, watching a fast-moving cloud sail across the sea of blue. The treetops above the hammock waved back and forth.

     Somehow, being out in God’s big world made her feel small, not in an insignificant sort of way this time, but in a way that sized down her problems and made her realize how small they were in the grand scheme of life.

The piano is messed up, and that’s that. Holding onto unforgiveness over it won’t fix it. All it will do is mess up my relationship with Amber.

     “Dear Lord,” Ruby whispered. “I’m so sad about my piano getting messed up, but it really isn’t ruined. And I know Amber feels bad about it, too. Please help me to completely forgive her and have the right attitude about this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Watercolor of Ruby with her long red hair, and she is wearing a lavender dress

     Ruby rolled out of the hammock and headed for the house. When she entered the living room, she found Amber there by herself, polishing the back of the piano with a cloth. She looked up with a start, then dropped her eyes back to the piano top. Ruby hurried over.

     “I know you didn’t do it on purpose, Amber, and I forgive you.” She looked at the back of the piano. It shone with wood polish, and the rings were much lighter than they had been.

     “Mom said the polish might help,” Amber said. “It won’t totally fix it but . . .”

     “But it’s already helped a lot!” Ruby finished when her sister trailed off. “I’ll get a rag and help you rub it in.”

     They rubbed and polished and polished and rubbed. The wood drank up the polish, and slowly the spots grew lighter.

     When they finished, Ruby stepped back to inspect it. The spots were still visible, and she knew they would show up a little more once the polish dried, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as she first feared, and of course, her piano wasn’t really ruined.

     As if to prove that, she sat down and played the song she had been practicing earlier. The words ran through Ruby’s mind as her fingers flitted over the keys.

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

     While Ruby was playing, Amber put the polish and rags away. Then she returned to the living room and picked up two of her egg carton gardens from the floor. After pushing the piano bench in, Ruby grabbed the other two.

     “Want some help planting?”

     Amber smiled. “I’d love some.”

     Ruby followed her sister out of the house and toward the little garden plot. Gratitude swept over her as she walked. She still had her piano – only a little the worse for wear – and she was so blessed to have her younger sister and be able to do things with her. Looking up toward the sky that was now completely clear, she whispered, “Thank you, Lord. I couldn’t change my attitude, but you did, and I’m so thankful.”


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Let’s Chat!

     A little behind the scenes of this story is that the part about messing up the piano is actually based on what I did to my own piano! It wasn’t funny at the time, but there is some humor to it now. Do you have any stories of things you did or experienced that were unpleasant at the time but became humorous later?

In Christ,


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  1. Hey! I remember this story. *Laughs* It’s beautiful.

    1. Aww, thanks, Milly! Thank you for helping inspire this story! 🙂

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