A Blind Musician's Sonata

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
My first short story. One of hopefully many to come.
A blind violinist begins to lose other senses as well, in his final attempt to perfect his masterpiece.

Submitted: January 09, 2016

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Submitted: January 09, 2016

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A Blind Musician’s Sonata

 

First Movement

Since he was a young boy, he could never remember colours or shapes. Only the darkness. Do not despair, he would hasten to reassure any sympathisers, for he felt comforted by his blindness. It was like a mother’s embrace where a frightened child could hide his face and feel secure; safe from the terrors of sight. His name? You needn’t bother with those formalities, my dear. Just close your eyes and listen. Without the distraction that calls itself seeing, the songs of the world around him are so much clearer, and so beautiful.

Besides, what did he need of sight when all that mattered was the music?

Although he has never laid eyes on his violin, he knows every curve and angle without fault. Lifting the instrument to his shoulder gracefully and confidently, he placed his fingertips with easy certainty across the fingerboard – finding the correct notes instantly. He knew this tune by heart already. The drag and whisper of the bow across the bridge of strings was overwhelmed by the tenuous first note of his song. The minor, melancholy note rang through the still air. Quickly replaced by a multitude of overlapping motifs as his well calloused fingertips danced across each string simultaneously.

His music crescendos with each note until stray strands of the bow’s horse-hair begins to fly free of the stick that held it in its place. Undeterred, the dance continues as four fingertips weave expertly to create double stops; effectively twisting two melodies into one. He thinks of the warmth of the sunlight he can never see on his back and the excitement of hearing laughter from the neighbourhood children.

As he listens to the hum of the vibrating strings and the faint echo from the depths of his wooden companion, he slides his left hand forwards to reach a higher, sweeter note. The perfected tone does not fall flat and sends shivers of delight down his spine. Heartbeat quickening to the tempo of the song, he plays faster still, the dull ache in his shoulder from holding the instrument in the correct posture gave him a sense of fulfilment and he let his body move with the music. The music turns to a major lift and a smile tugs at the man’s lips, just as the change in tune lifts his spirits. A memory of the swell in his chest from the applause and cheers of an audience that came to hear his melodies on stage for the first time. This segment of the blind violinist’s song concludes with a vibrato on the tonic note of C major.

 

Second Movement

There is a tense pause before he begins a new onslaught on the tight strings of his beloved violin. The notes this time are slow and steady, but tentative. Something has changed after all these years of playing his song; the one he will never forget. This time, something is off. Not the notes or the feel of the wooden weight beneath his chin, no… it feels faded.

With a brief shake of his head and a renewed determination and joy at the sound of the music around him, he continues this softer lullaby. Swaying slightly to the easy tones, reminiscing about ballroom dances and orchestra performances. Some were his own, others he was simply a guest enjoying the music from the side-lines.

Ah, there again the sense that something was amiss in all the sounds of the melody. He listens harder and focuses on the sensations from the instrument itself; the vibrations running into his left shoulder and lower jaw, the sweeping motion and catching of the strung bow in his right hand. Every part of him straining to hear and feel what could possibly be wrong with this song, the one he has played so often.

Then, in a moment, a creeping dread burns from his chest, constricting as another A minor note sings mournfully into him. The sound does not evoke memories of scenery, but rather the cool freshness of new rain on his face and the shivering that follows. As such, he begins to tremble slightly as realisation numbs his fingers; like freezing water dumped over his head. The notes are quieter, not because he plays them that way, but because he can no longer hear the music with the same clarity he used to. Playing harder than ever, he desperately tries to hold on to the string of notes that is rapidly growing dimmer and dimmer. Further and further away from him. His tie to the earth is slipping through his fingertips just as fast as he is moving them in a frantic attempt to hang on to it. Sadness clouds over his already sightless eyes and the final note of the second piece ends at its quietest yet, fading into nothing. Tears slip over his cheeks as he prepares to complete the trio of movements in his sonata.

 

Third Movement

Anger. Simple and harsh, rips through the man like the dull roar of a bonfire stacked to well over six feet high. The heat of the fire inside his bones fills him with a determination fuelled by rage and the injustice. The bow comes down hard on the strings in a fortississimo double stop that could have been a war-cry in ancient times. This is his war on time left over and the desperation to finish his song before it all vanishes without warning.

With every note, louder and louder just to hear the notes themselves whispering to him. No longer can he hear the subtle swish of the hairs against wood where the bow brushes the side of the violin, now all he can hear is the music itself as it crescendos incessantly. Dancing up the scales to the grand finale in the fourth position. His heart thumps loudly in time to the increasing tempo and almost outweighs the song completely; almost – in fact it nearly enhances the song with underscoring beats. His entire body moves with the gracefulness of the violin and his final note holds for six beats.

Breathing hard as the violin drops from his shoulder to be cradled by the crook of his elbow, the man lowers himself to his knees and weeps silently. Hearing no more music as silence presses against his eardrums as the darkness once pressed against his eyelids. He turns his sightless, blank eyes to the floor and lets the tears fall, mourning the loss of his song.

With a rapid hand and blotted ink over every inch of his hands, he finishes the final note with a flourish and set the pages to dry. Even if he can never again hear his perfected melody, he is secure in knowing that someone else might. If ever someone is able to play his song as beautifully as he once did.

Hush now and listen to his masterpiece.

 


© Copyright 2020 Medea Rene. All rights reserved.

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