My #GSWP1 entry. As always, my submission is ineligible to be a Gold Star Writing Prompt Winner.
His bagpipes were old and worn, but they were over two hundred years old. Made from the hide of a goat owned by his great-great-grandfather, they’d been carefully handcrafted for the large, burly man. Leith placed the instrument back on the mantle, in its place of honor. Calum McDonaugh had been a field musician during the infamous Battle of Culloden. When the infantrymen heard the distinct, reedy skirl of the bagpipes, it filled their hearts with patriotism and a fierce desire to protect the Highlands. Without the music to fuel their attack, their losses would have been much worse.
Now, Calum’s descendant looked upon the bagpipes with wonder and awe. The warm, amber glow from the flickering fire cast a lengthy shadow on the wall behind the instrument. For just a moment, it seemed to morph into the silhouette of a man. Startled, Leith took a small step back. He turned left and right, but saw no one. It was just him in his old family manor house, though only a few hours before, the halls had been filled with mourners. Tears prickled in the corners of his eyes as he recalled all the lovely things people had to say about his father. The memorial service was over now, though, so the shadow must have just been a trick of the light.
Leith’s father, Jamie McDonaugh, had also been a true patriot. The McDonaugh line, since the early 1700s, had openly fought against British rule. The initial invasion efforts were rebelled against by a small faction of Highland Lairds, including Laird Gleann Locha, Calum McDonaugh. One of the few survivors of the Battle of Culloden, Calum made sure he spent the rest of his days avenging his fallen comrades in any way possible. He orchestrated further rebellions and led the way into every battle, all the while playing his weathered bagpipes.
The bagpipes in question had been passed down from Calum to his son and from father to son since then, until they’d reached Leith’s mantle. Sighing, he took a sip of his hot toddy and sat down on the plush couch in front of the fireplace. He recalled his father’s stories, the ones passed down from generation to generation. He knew his family’s legacy was an important piece of Scottish history, and was determined to preserve it. If only he could figure out how.
Studying the bagpipes, an idea struck him. Every McDonaugh learned to play at an early age. Leith had never been very good, but now he felt compelled to pick up the instrument. Standing, he gently lifted the leather sacks and brought the wooden reed to his mouth. Without hesitation, he began playing an old, Gaelic tune. The sound sliced through the silent house, bringing with it a wave of emotions for which Leith had not been prepared.
Returning the bagpipes to their place on the mantle, he crumpled to the sofa. Unwilling tears spilled from his eyes, and he finally allowed himself to feel everything. The hurt. The loss. The knowledge that he’d never again get to have a conversation with his father. He let it all wash over him and, when he could cry no more, he dried his eyes and came to a decision. He would carry on his family legacy. He would continue to advocate for justice for his Scottish brothers and sisters. With the bagpipe’s strident, dulcet tones in tow, he’d evoke the dormant patriotism within his fellow Scots.
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