The Heart of the House

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I remember the day when we first plugged it in.

The bubbles raced round, the sound boomed out and we danced watching the luminous colours change from green to yellow to orange.

Mum wasn’t happy at first. Dad had splashed out on an expensive retro toy without a second thought. But you just couldn’t resist it.

I loved the swishing sound of flicking through the different song options. And the way it’d swoop over the CDs like a theme park grabbing machine.

At every celebration we’d gather around it, blaring out some Spice Girls, Hearsay or ABBA. We’d turn the lights down and perform under the disco ball or fire up the karaoke machine.

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The jukebox transformed the house. The place it proudly stood soon became known as ‘the dancing room’.

My sister and I would spend hours practicing routines. Our favourite involved creating our own makeshift car. We’d stack up chairs and pretend we were the T-Birds singing Grease Lightning.

As each year passed, the dancing room became more and more neglected.

In my moody teenage years, I’d only ever fire it up if I had friends over. We’d sit and chat and sometimes have a little dance… pretending like it wasn’t still the most fun thing to do ever.

It wasn’t long until plugging it in stopped making me light up inside.

As I shrugged off childhood, the jukebox gathered dust. 

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The forgotten machine slipped into decay like an ancient relic. Even though the lights still blared out invitingly, the sound failed.

I’d sometimes feel a nostalgic flutter as I ran my hands over the smooth buttons, but the heart of the house had stopped beating.

When we moved house we sold the jukebox.

In a way it was like losing a childhood friend that I’d drifted apart from. 

The majestic machine had grown up beside us, absorbing the memories from birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions.

I like to think that it’s been given a new lease of life. Maybe it’s been transplanted into a cheesy retro bar. A great one with sticky floors and bad dancing and free flowing booze.

Or perhaps it’s beating again in an old-school pub where friends have gathered for decades.

Maybe it’s watching over another young family. Hopefully one with kids that can star in their own musicals and DIY discos.

Wherever it’s gone, I hope that it brings as much joy to its new owners as it did for us for over a decade.

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