four sections, in non-chronological order, with a recurring character in all four parts. it was hard for me because i tend to start from an image, and go from there. here, i had to plan more thoroughly than i'm used to, and struggle to have some kind of movement and purpose, and it was just really hard. i did it though, for better or for worse.
i couldn't have done it without the inspirational aid of b_bootsisdead.
anyway, i don't like the way the second and third parts turned out. and the fourth didn't quite work the way i'd planned. and the first needs some work. oh hell, the whole damn thing needs a good scrubbing. i'm looking forward to rewriting this and making it good, but here's what i have so far if you want to give some suggestions. they'd be greatly appreciated and taken into account.
i am allowed to add another section. do you think i should?
damn lj's refusal to indent my paragraphs!
Thea walks slowly around the room. Her eyes are closed, but her arms and legs know exactly what they’re doing. Her fingers know which strings to touch even in the dark, and her feet have paced this floor enough times that they have grown their own eyes. She has shut all the blinds, but the room is still illuminated by narrow streaks of sunlight that slice their way past the edges of the blinds and careen into the room, uninvited. The light is of no consequence to Thea, who is wrapping herself in sound. The shut blind is only a courtesy to her neighbors, after all. At her age, she doesn’t care if a passerby happens to spot a breast or a patch of pubic hair. But she closes the blinds because she can appreciate not wanting to see that sort of thing at your breakfast table.
She moves across the room, the invading sunbeams nudging her as she passes like hungry cats. She pauses in front of a window. A shaft of light catches the tip of her bow, and for a moment, it glints like a magic wand. Thea is framed by the sunbeams rushing in around the blind. They glow around her like a full-body halo, catching her white hair and turning it a snowy gold. Thea, lost in her music, is oblivious to her sudden luminosity. Her face is distant, her closed eyes removing her from this earthly realm of the visual. If anyone were to walk in just now, they will think themselves in the presence of something holy.
No one will walk in, and that is something that Thea can be certain of. It is just she in the house, which gives her the freedom to walk around naked, playing the violin, at ten o’clock in the morning. She is free to play as loud as she wants, and does so. She can feel comfortable if she makes a mistake, with no one around to catch it and tease her for the rest of the day.
She still doesn’t like making mistakes. They pull her out of her reverie. She makes one now, a silly beginner’s slip, enough to make her sigh and take the violin from under her chin. She studies her wrinkled fingers and wonders how after so many years they can still forget.
“Your mother and I both think it’s good for a young girl to have a hobby,” said Mr. Caroll. His daughter had never seen such a sight in all her six years. Great golden horns glint and sparkle on the walls. Huge, curvy wooden instruments sat like haughty rich women. Pianos as far as the eye could see. Thea couldn’t help herself. She rushed up to the nearest piano—it was white! They made white pianos?—and immediately began pressing every key.
Mr. Caroll hurried over and took hold of her hands. “Now, now, Thea, we aren’t at Granny’s house right now, so you can’t bang on the pianos here. This is a shop. You know how to behave in shops.”
Thea did indeed know, and promptly clasped her hands in front of her. Good girls in shops get presents. Bad girls in shops get no dessert, she recited in her head. Her father patted her brown, wavy head. The head pat was worth a million presents to Thea. Usually her father gently lifted her off when she jumped into his lap, or barely squeezed whenever she threw her arms around him. When she would cry, her mother would always take her out of the room and explained that daddy needed his concentration for his work.
But he wasn’t working now, and Thea could barely contain herself. Being out was exciting enough, but with her father? To go buy something just for Thea? She just might burst at the seams. But she must be good. So she folded her hands in front of her and quietly followed behind her father, who was leading her to a desk with a fat woman with blue hair behind it.
“Well!” cried the fat blue-haired lady. “Are we looking for the great big man or the itty bitty girl?”
“My wife and I are looking for something to keep the little one occupied. Idle hands are the devil’s playground, you know.”
Thea looked down at her hands. She knew if there was anything her father hated, it was the devil. She made the decision right then and there to never let the devil get a hold of her hands. To throw him off, she began to play Itsy-Bitsy Spider. It was a little kids game, she knew, but no one from school was here to see, and it was twisty enough to confuse the devil if he tried to grab her hands.
The fat lady clapped her hands excitedly. Maybe the noise scares off the devil, thought Thea. “Simply marvelous!” the lady hollered. “You can never start too young with a child’s musical education! Good heavens, what a crucial age. Which instrument shall she ever pick?”
Mr. Caroll crouched down to look his daughter in the face. She instantly stopped her game and listened intently. “Theodora, we are about to pick out an instrument that you’re going to play for the rest of your life. We have to choose it well. What kind of instrument do you think you’ll want to play forever?”
Forever! The word rang a clear note in Thea’s head. Forever meant never leaving. She suddenly remembered her mother sobbing that word. It was a year ago. There had been screaming, lots of screaming, and all at once Mr. Caroll was gone. Thea had gone into her mother’s room to find the closet cleared of her father’s things and her mother in a heaving pile on the floor. Not noticing her daughter, Mrs. Caroll had kept banging the edge of her wedding ring, still on her finger, against the corner of a dresser. It made a loud, painful noise. With every blow, her mother moaned “So much for forever. So much for forever.”
Mr. Caroll returned eventually, but Thea could still not forget the days and weeks and months that he had been gone. Her mother crying. The house getting dirtier and dirtier as her mother was too depressed to clean. The both of them jumping every time they heard a car door slam.
He was back now, and the two of them were calmer than ever before. Mrs. Caroll’s dented ring was shut away in a box, Mr. Caroll’s clothes were back in the closet, and the house sparkled again. The only difference was that Thea’s mother still cried sometimes, and that Mr. and Mrs. Caroll spoke to each other very seldom.
Thea pulled herself out of this sad memory and remembered that she was happy right now. An instrument! A very important present. “What do you think I should play, Daddy?”
Mr. Caroll took a moment to think. “Well hon, I like piano very much, but we don’t have room for one of those. Flutes are very nice, like the Pied Piper.”
Thea suddenly had a vision of herself skipping through the streets, playing a flute, with a stream of rats following her. She shuddered. The devil was bad but rats were worse. The idea of skipping, though, was appealing. “I want something I can play that I can move around at the same time.”
The fat lady nodded. “Stringed instruments are usually best for children her age. Cellos have been wildly popular these days, but perhaps a violin would be more up her alley, yes?”
“Do you like violins, Daddy?”
“I love violins, baby.”
He loved violins! The rat picture was replaced with Thea playing violin for her father. He was clapping his hands and telling Mrs. Caroll how happy he was. He would love it, and stay to hear her play more. It was something Thea could do forever.
Thea couldn’t even weep. Nothing would escape from her throat, and nothing would go in. She stared down at the pile of wood, not breathing. She did not look up at Charlie. She already knew the look he would have on his face. It would be set in an unmovable “this-is-not-my-fault” frown, eyebrows furrowed, daring her to contradict him. His eyes, on the other hand, would dance with the guilt he knew he had. “No apologies,” that was Charlie’s motto. It was a beautiful thing to her once. It meant living without fear. But she stared down at the smashed violin and realized that she hadn’t lived without fear for years. No apologies now simply meant never saying you were sorry.
“Jesus, Thea.” That’s all he said. All at once her throat became unstuck and she let out a long, low moan.
“Jesus,” Charlie said again. “It’s not like it was your first violin or anything. You’ve bought new ones before. Shit, I’ll go get you one tomorrow if you want. Besides, it’s not like you’ve played it anytime the past four years.”
The only answer Thea was capable of was another moan, louder this time. She was glad the children weren’t home to hear her, to see her like this. To see a broken violin crushed on the ground. No one should have to see such a miserable sight.
She didn’t need Charlie to remind her that she hadn’t touched the violin ever since her third child was born. Two young children, one in each arm, left no room for a violin. Her shoulders were soaked with baby vomit and tears. No place to tuck an instrument. She also didn’t need to hear the tone in his voice when he said the words “you” and “four years.”
He had smashed her instrument. She wasn’t going to get an apology for it, either. She couldn’t even recall what they had been arguing about. All she could remember was his angry hands flying—not towards her, for once, but reaching towards her desk where the violin case had sat open. She had brought it out and opened it just that morning, right after the children had left. She had been looking at it, remembering the weight of it as she held it under her chin. She had been too tired to pick it up, though.
And now she couldn’t, anyway. His hands had leaped at the violin with a quickness Thea had never seen Charlie act with. The whole affair had taken less than an instant, and suddenly her beautiful instrument was a pile of splinters on the floor.
“Look,” he said, talking loudly over Thea’s moans, “we’ll just go to the goddamn music store tomorrow and get you another violin. Now will you stop that noise?”
Stop the noise. Stop the noise.
“What’s the point if I haven’t even played in so long?” Thea suddenly barked out.
“Well, don’t you want to play again?” asked Charlie.
“Don’t you remember how you used to play for me? Eh, baby?”
The softness of his voice would have melted the Thea of a few hours ago. The Thea with the smashed violin winced at the sound of his words. She would not stay.
“I do remember how I used to play,” said Thea. “I will not play for you again.”
“What? What did you say?”
“I will never play for you again, Charlie!”
The silence that followed this declaration was so profound that not even his hand striking her face made a noise. Thea gathered up the splintered, silent pieces. She carried them with her as she left.
Springtime. Paris. It cannot be anymore romantic. You almost wince with the cliché of it all, but you decide to be swept up with the beauty of it instead. To be a young musician in Paris! The death of your father is a year behind you. Your mother is finding happiness again, why shouldn’t you? Why shouldn’t you ask this handsome American out for a drink? His language is a familiar oasis in this churning sandstorm of French.
You find yourself in your hotel room, a gorgeous sunset framed by your window, a beautiful young blonde man named Charles reclining on your bed. It’s so picturesque, it’s ridiculous. You almost laugh.
He is looking at your violin, resting it its case on a chair. Play, he implores. He knows this is a beautiful moment. What could make it more beautiful than a stunning young woman playing the violin?
You acquiesce (because to simply agree would not be as poetic) and begin to play. The setting sun catches on your hair and turns it a reddish gold. The light tumbles into your skirts, revealing new colors previously unnoticed.
The handsome American takes note of this color-revelation. He waits until your playing has subsided and stares at you with shocking blue eyes. The color of jewels. The color of stone. The colors in your clothing dance across his face. He applauds softly.
“That was lovely,” he says. “Now, make it beautiful.”
He asks you. You are ready. You toss away your clothes. You raise the violin to your chin and begin to play once more. The sunset ripples across your skin and turns you colors you’ve never seen before.
thank you for reading.