The Unused Keys Symphony - Cover

The Unused Keys Symphony

by ffwd

Copyright© 2023 by ffwd

Fantasy Story: The One button and the Zero button, the buttons that get pushed all the time, stopped working on Waldo’s microwave. The dead buttons bothered Waldo. Because of his piano keyboard. Most songs get played near middle C using maybe 52 keys. Waldo found that all those keys that never got used open up a new universe of music. Before Waldo was thru, even the god, herself, stopped weaving the tapestry of fate for a moment while she tapped what passed for a foot to a music never played before.

Tags: Puzzles   Science   Music   Science Fiction   Supernatural   Fantasy  

1600 words the way this thing counts words.

Except, it’s a poem.

Don’t tell.

OKOKOK, the One button and the Zero button stopped working on Waldo’s microwave.


You, with the screwdriver.

Sit down and listen.




That way lies a special kinda fried.

The One and the Zero were the buttons that Waldo pushed all the time.

One minute. One Zero Zero

Ten seconds. One Zero

One second. One

Zero power – that’s the timer feature, see, try ever-how-many minutes and seconds at Zero power, then the buzzer goes off. But nothing gets cooked.

A timer, get it?

Waldo used the timer feature a lot.

Like for the One Minute Waltz, by heart, no metronome, in exactly one minute.

Except, the cord from the microwave didn’t reach at all near the piano.

There are ways around that.

Lots of people have a refrigerator in the living room. And a piano in the kitchen.

Just an upright, ok?

Sure, a microwave on the lid muffles the resonance – but only the bass.

Waldo liked the muffled bass just fine, slightly muted.

The bass is what causes the neighbors to complain,

The bass goes right into the walls and the floor and the ceiling and travels next door.

The guy next door sleeps, get this, all night long.

And wakes up cranky.

But the treble? The treble bounces off the walls so it’s better to muffle the bass.

Waldo ate microwave food unless he was on the road.

Hungryman breakfasts.

Burritos for lunch.

Lean cuisine for dinner.

Or more burritos.

Or a cardboard pizza.

He had his own aisle at the supermarket.

Beer at the far end but frozen meals on both sides all the way down.

Tina, the cashier, a redhead with two kids and no husband was the only woman outside the orchestra whose name Waldo knew. She’d written it right over her phone number one day. But Waldo already knew her name. He wasn’t totally clueless. Those jokes about musicians, especially the one about composers, they weren’t true. Waldo was absorbed but not totally out of touch. He already knew Tina’s name.

The microwave wasn’t broken. It cooked stuff. All the other buttons worked.

Just the One button and the Zero button:

First, they didn’t beep anymore.

Then they didn’t light up for a while.

Then they didn’t work. Ever.


You, with the screwdriver.

You want fried with that?

Three meals a day. 21 meals a week. Ummm ... A thousand-some meals a year.

And popcorn.

365 popcorns a year.

Waldo always cooked popcorn in four, one-minute bursts.

Otherwise it scorched.

Waldo had worn out those two buttons because he pushed them all the time.

Waldo coped.

59 seconds was darn close to one minute.

62 second bursts scorched the popcorn but not a burrito.

Waldo! A scientist as well as a musician!

But the dead buttons on the microwave bothered Waldo.

Because of the piano.

You know the piano keyboard?

The high notes, the treble keys, are over on the right.

The bass keys are over on the left.

Most songs are played in the middle.

That’s why they call this key Middle C.

And if you are playing a piano, you,

unless you are Waldo, you are looking at the sheet music.

Waldo kept the sheet music on a table at one side so he could write more music,

if this was his composition.

Or change the music if it wasn’t.

What Waldo was looking at was a microwave.

The god knows how it came to him.

But you and I know.

OKOKOK, if this is your first time thru,

go back to the top and listen carefully. Read. Whatever.

By the time you get back here, you’ll know what we all know, now.

Waldo played Middle C and looked at the microwave. At the One button.

He pressed Middle C again and listened.

Listened for what’s called attenuation – how the note started and reverberated and died.

Then he pressed High C – the C key as far to the right of Middle C as you can go.

The attenuation was different. Sharper. Crisper.

More like a new piano than an old piano.

I couldn’t hear it. You couldn’t hear it. A piano tuner could hear it. Waldo could hear it, too.

Don’t get me started on how dogs can hear stuff we can’t. This is different.

It’s about what Waldo could hear that we can’t.

Stuff that matters except we don’t know it.

For Waldo, it all came together, the attenuation, music theory, the dead buttons on the microwave:

all of human music is played, more or less, in the range of a piano.

Low to high, every note.

But most all the songs fall in the middle of the range.

There are plenty of songs that cover the central octave.

The human voice rarely ranges outside it.

The human voice rarely ranges beyond two octaves.

You might can sing as far as you can hum. I can’t.

An opera singer can.

But an opera singer has what?

A three-octave range?

Five? I don’t think so.

It takes an orchestra to play the entire range – or a piano.

But, even so,

(and Waldo counted musical notes for days, years, to prove it;)

wore out his 2 button and his 5 button and the 9 button.

Had to buy another microwave.

Moved the piano back into the living room, next to the fridge.

Even so, there are some notes that are not common in any song.

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