If at First You Don't Succeed...
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My cousins down the Day-twah say we don't get made like we used to. The way I sees it, that just means each of us what's left gotta work that much harder to do his part.

I do work hard. I've tried and tried every day of my life since I was bought, and that's as true for Mr. H as it was Ms. Randolph. But she didn't need much: go here, go there, go back over here. Easy to please, but I didn't let that mean I could be lazy. No sir, I worked as hard as I could. Even if it was just simple things I did for her, putting that much more effort into it made it worthwhile.

Fact is, I would've been happy to spend my life with Ms. Randolph, until I met Mr. H. The day she sold me to him, I could tell right immediately, he had a fire inside. He had dreams and hopes, drive and magic. He downright made Ms. Randolph a candle in comparison, especially those last few years, when she didn't have as many places to go as often. Don't tell her I said that, though. She was a right good lady and I'm sure it weren't her fault.

But hard as I worked for her, I knew I'd have to work ten times as hard for Mr. H. Every week, it seemed, he had somewhere new to go, a smile and a song in him. It didn't matter if sometimes he moved a little slow once he was done with a place. By the time he got back inside me, he was already thinking about where to go next, and raring to get there.

And then there was Mikey. Let me tell you, I hadn't been expecting a two-for-one on owners, and I didn't rightly know what to make of the little guy at first. But before I knew it, he'd graduated from back seat to front and joined Mr. H on every other trip, it seemed like. Any time he'd poke my buttons, I'd be sure to play him a cheery tune, because anytime Mikey smiled, Mr. H, well, he'd smile twice as big, and that was all I wanted. Have to say, I got downright attached to him and soon I was raring to do my best to help him just as much as Mr. H.

It's a funny old thing, when your best ain't enough.

Took me a while to notice. I ain't too perceptive about people sometimes, and Mr. H, well, he's got a knack for hiding what he don't want anyone else to know. Those little black pavement cracks, they crept up on me slow-like, so by the time I couldn't ignore them no more, well, they was too many to do anything about. Fact was, maybe I didn't want to notice them, neither. Things with Mr. H and Mikey was hunky-dory for so long, can you blame me for focusing on the positive?

Anyway, them black pavement cracks, they took a heavy toll on Mr. H. He kept his smile on, but it was glass instead of steel, like it might break if someone tapped his fender. I tried my hardest, really I did. Harder than my hardest, even. But it didn't seem to be making no difference.

My cousins' words came back to me: we don't get made like we used to be. I started to wonder if maybe I was born rusty, or if maybe life with Ms. Randolph had made me soft. Thing is, I got so caught up in blaming myself, I lost sight of what was really important to me. And for that, I truly do give myself the blame. What happened next, I should've seen coming.

Mikey was big. He didn't stick around the house much, and he didn't go on trips with me and Mr. H like he used to. I couldn't tell if he had his own thing going on or what it was. I ain't too perceptive about people sometimes. But late at night, I could hear them arguing. Sometimes in the morning, too. More and more they argued in that old house.

House didn't say nothing about it. Maybe I don't speak her language. But I knew she had to be hurting like I was to hear them going at each other so much. I didn't know what started things going so bad so fast, but I knew I had to be the one to do something to put an end to it.

Things came to a head after Mikey stomped out of one of them arguments. It was maybe the worst yet. I wanted so bad for that house to be full of happiness again. I had to try to do something to save those two before the black pavement cracks grew up so big they couldn't be filled in no more. But what could I do? If Mr. H wasn't around, I just sat in the driveway. I ain't never felt so helpless than I did right at that very moment.

So I thought back. I tried to remember all the good times me and Mr. H had together. I tried to remember what he looked like when Mikey played my songs. I thought and I thought, and then it was like I could see him, could see every happy face he ever made. I saw myself, and I saw him, and I tried and tried to make that old dream become real.

And maybe it worked. That old house seems full of laughter now, anyhow. Can't rightly say I seen Mikey around much, and Mr. H don't take me out on trips like he used to, but I figure they gotta be doing all right. Can't have that much joy in their lives and not be happy, right? So for both their sakes, I'll keep trying as hard as I can to make them happy. That's all I really want.

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