My latest in Luminous Creatures’ weekly contest, no more than 500 words and the above photo as a prompt.
Andy was trying to remember what her name felt like on his tongue. He hadn’t let its reverberations caress the back of his tongue in years. He liked to think it used to give him a warm, tingly sensation, but he suspected it just as easily could be like the coarse wind that had embedded itself within his cheeks.
Which Andy meant in a loving way, as love was more akin to a gale force wind than lukewarm water lapping at your feet. It was meant to be intense, to draw blood.
“I’ll play for you, if it comes to that. Something melancholy, appropriate, like Shostakovich or Sibelius, maybe Dvořák, dear,” he’d said to her, as her head rested in his lap.
“Dvořák’s are always a bit harsh, like the beauty one finds in a thunderclap,” she said, a playfulness behind it. “Mozart, play something from Mozart, everyone knows him.”
“Oh, Libby, isn’t Mozart passé now? To the average person, Mozart is classical music and they know nothing of…”
She stopped his impending classical music rant, which she’d heard a thousand times previously and could quote word for word, with a hard kiss, harder than she meant and she held it longer than usual, too. The electricity was still there and for a moment, she forgot about her own lack of it.
Forged lips with a lover, not much else compared to the sensation, like you were lost and found all at once.
He instinctively reached for where his violin usually was; his bedside table. It wasn’t there. He’d left it downstairs when he serenaded her after a glass of Château Latour from 1999. Not yet vintage, but it was meant to be lathered on the tongue at a young age.
“And it will come to that, Andy, you know,” she said, a finality to it that was more bitter than the Latour.
He swept his hand in the air dismissing this, as if it that could swat away the leukemia.
“Elizabeth,” he said. Elizabeth was his defense mechanism. It was his “tell” to her that he wasn’t ready to discuss it, as if he was the one withering away day-by-day.
In a way, he was. Solace was to be found in his violin, however, where his hands were in control.
But not on that day. He told her he would. The one thing he was sure he could do. Leading up to it, he pictured the vibrations of that magnificent violin wrapping itself around her casket with a warm glow, the last embers of a dying love, the living kind at least.
When he stood a few feet from the casket, rows of people opening their ears expecting…Mozart, he found his fingers paralyzed. It was as if he’d woken up and forgotten how to speak.
It was like experiencing the dying whir of Libby’s machine again.
Now he stood, years after the funeral ended, holding his violin and its case, like a body bag.
He still hadn’t played.