This story is by Brynden Winfrey and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Anticipation! Oh, it was anticipation that hammered in my heart, which shook my spirit, and threatened its early departure. I could feel my knuckles crack and my hands sweat. I checked the passenger window to see if my reflection was still there, if I had, from my seat, departed to the heavens. Ah Ha! Yes! Yes, I was still here.
I threw a smirk at the window, seeing myself, my tall, dark self, smirk back, my eyes lighting up for the inevitable moment to come; the moment I knew that would connect me to my love forever. In the darkness of my car, I scrambled for my trusty case over my seat. A few aimless snatches in the dark, and I managed to grab the handle. I brought it up and placed it on my lap. It was a long and curved case made of leather that had weathered from use. I rubbed my hand over it adoringly. Oh, yes, my treasured violin, she would love this, to hear this instrument sing into the night.
Just thinking of her made me tremble in glee, euphoria erupting from heart and spreading to the tips of my toes. I hadn’t seen her in a year, but when I do, I know her silhouette would sway sweetly to my instrumentation and invocation of my violin. Such an alluring sound it was. I sighed, and then looked up, to the floor of the building where I knew she would be, to the balcony where the golden curtains remained permanently adrift in the moonlight, inviting me up. I hurriedly left my car.
I opened the front door to the foyer and entered, where I saw the concierge, Ella, at the desk writing something down. She looked up, and her brown eyes widened and her lips frowned.
Strange. She had been doing that for the last five years, all in that strange and unnerving sequence, as if something unsettling had come. I walked steadily towards her.
“H-Hello, Mr. Hardy. What can I do you for?”
“Nothing.” I smirked. “But I know someone who can!”
She blinked. “Suzanna? Is it that time of the year again?”
“Oh, yes! Today’s our anniversary, and I know she’s waiting for me.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure she’ll be delighted.” She smiled oddly.
“Has anyone come up to her room lately?”
Ella shook her head. “No, there hasn’t.”
“Excellent! We wouldn’t want just anyone disturbing her. I’ll be off.”
I gave her a wink and headed toward the elevator. At the sixth floor I got off and headed to room 122. I touched the brown door, placing my head against the hard frame, feeling my heart skip. I was home. I home again with her. I knocked gently, took a key from my coat pocket, and opened the door.
Darkness greeted me.
“I’m here!” I exclaimed.
I turned on the lights, and everything was where it should be. The apartment, a single bedroom with a modest living room and kitchen, was how I remembered it. Everything was perfect. Everything was still.
I made my way to the living room glass table. I paused. A smile spread across my face at the picture on the table. I touched the frame, rubbing a finger down its length. The picture was of us at a picnic. Suzanna leaned against me on the blanket, wearing the most marvelous smile that day, her brown skin glowing. Her brother David, my best friend, had taken the picture. I had met Suzanna through him at college.
I hadn’t seen much of him over the years. Usually, he would drop by and sling a large arm around me and hang on me as if was attached to me. I could picture his handsome grin right now, staring at me with his large grey eyes that always seemed to cut through me, cut through my guilt.
I took my hand away and wiped the dust on my pants. I headed towards her bedroom. I breathed out a sigh, one of relief and anticipation, and knocked. I opened the door to darkness, but I quickly shooed it away with the lights. My eyes found her bed. Our bed. The red velvet covers that molded to our frame when we made love, a sea of red, blinding, washing over us and our promise of forever.
I remembered my first night here. She had invited me here, to her room, to get to know me after our second date. I was scared. I had never been so in love and inept in my thoughts on how to profess such love to her. I stammered many times. She had noticed, and she had noticed that I never leave home without my best friend, my violin. It gave me courage, and, of course, I felt incredibly lonely without it. She wanted me to play her a song.
I had grinned, for the violin always revealed my true feelings. I wanted to reach her, to confess my undying love for her, so I played a song I had composed solely for her, a long endearing and moving movement that brought her to tears, which, eventually, I would play for her almost every night.
I gazed at the balcony, where the glass screen door was pulled back, and the golden curtains, caught in a lingering breeze, floated. And then I saw her, from behind the curtains, her naked silhouette outlining the fabric, from her long forehead, to her soft nose and full lips, to her standing and pert breasts down to the length of her stomach, and her long legs. Her lips were parted, and the wind
sighed, and it, gently, caressed my ears.
“I’ve come back like always, my love,” I said.
I placed my case on the bed, and trembling, I opened it up, revealing, in the dim light, my brown violin. I picked up the bow first and rotated the end screw, watching the hair along the stick to the tip tightened, like pulling a stubborn rubber band. I took the rosin from the pocket atop the case, its volume low from constant use – I’ve been everywhere and nowhere – and rosined my bow until the strings’ surface was slick in white, and then placed it on the bed. Finally, with excitement, I withdrew my violin from its case and placed it on my shoulder, my chin cupping the chin rest. The weight seemed tremendously heavier, and I grappled with it, trying to situate the violin on my left shoulder. The song, the music, came to me instantly, and with the bow in hand, I glided its way on onto the strings.
The song started softly. The notes from the A-and D-strings fluttered jovially around the room, reminding me of the first time I met her, then, slowly, and quite playfully, of our courtship, the dates, and how time was meaningless between us. My bow rose up faster and faster, of my nervousness, my trepidation of confessing, but soon mellowed into the lush and deep notes of the D-and G-string where she assuaged it away with her touch, her words, and her blooming love. Our time together fell into harmony, and I closed my eyes remembering our bliss.
However, a flashing memory stabbed my heart, and I started to descend, to descend into melancholy. The dread of heartache and betrayal pulled me under. Falling; falling; falling endlessly.
I was like the ocean and its waves when the tide pushes and pulls to the shore on a gloomy day, the whispers of the dreaded and cold wind, lashing in desperation and ache, the trembling thunder when I rounded on the G-string, daunting and reproachful, then crying, once again, on the E-string.
Then I stopped suddenly, the weight excruciatingly heavy. I could not go on, as I sank to my knees, feeling wetness gather at my eyes and fall down my cheeks in streams, splashing onto my violin, the tears seeping into the sound post.
I returned my stare to the balcony, seeing nothing but the golden curtains as still as the shadows that had now gathered in the corners of the room, watching me, haunting me. I placed my violin on the bed and walked to the balcony. With tears still streaming I looked out into the night, and to the ground where your body had fallen five years ago.
How cruel it was when you had learned, from David, of my greatest betrayal of your love. I could never confess such a thing. You must had been tortured by my infidelity that you took your own life, and remained here, remained here for me to finally confess. And now, with my confession, you are finally gone from me. You were the one thing that I wish to never let go, and now, you too, have vanished from me.
I stared at the dark streets. I climbed up on the balcony, where I met the sky and city lights, and prepared for my descent down.
David J Brown says
As there are so many stories to read, if they don’t hold my attention through the first few paragraphs I have been moving on. This on held my attention. Expression through music, through words is difficult, and I think you did a fine job of pulling it off! DJB
Georgina Ballantine says
This is an unusual, dark story that will stay with me, which is the best kind in my opinion! The beginning was creepy, and as the tale progressed I thought that the protagonist must be planning to revisit a murder site, so I liked that it was a suicide instead. As a violinist I enjoyed the detail in this story, though I’m not sure whether non-musical or non-string players would enjoy it to the same degree.
Good luck in the contest!