Sunday, March 31, 2013

Prompt: Some things have to be said

I was 16 when I signed up to ship offEarth with the InterPlanetary Development Agency. My first station was Io, which was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a real baptism by fire. I worked on three sub-orbital stations there, and after awhile, you don’t even notice the volcanic flares and the lava-covered crawling surface.

Anyway, about five years in, they started sending tourists and various promotional gigs our way. Diego Velazquez was a poet in residence for almost a year. I didn’t understand a word of his poetry, but he was a brilliant game master, and we spent hours huddled over his handmade board and dice in the rec bay. A lot of musicians came out to, and I liked getting to see how they played, even if their music wasn’t my usual fare. I mean, I’m not much into classical, for instance, but watching how they move their fingers on instruments is really fascinating.

So there was this guitarist, Martin Bushell, who played really old school “new age” music. Definitely not my thing, but he was actually really funny and talented. I enjoyed the show a lot. He had a very distinctive style about how he moved on the stage and played his instruments. And not just guitar, he played a little reed flute thing sometimes, and for one song he had his guitar, a mouth harp on a neckbrace, a cymbal dangling around one foot, and he banged a drum with the other foot. The whole audience was on their feet cheering.

Just a few months later, I was scanning the news reports while I was stuck waiting for a system update, and I saw he died in a freak crash landing on Phobos. His photo caught my eye, and I thought that really sucked. When I got transferred to Phobos a couple of years later, I even went out to his memorial site and recorded a holo about how much I liked his gig on Io.

So, you know, time goes by, and I move up through the ranks, and when I’m 28, I score a plush gig on the Moon. I even think about going back to Earth for a vacation, but I can’t make up my mind about looking up any family, so I keep putting it off. I still like seeing music performed live, and this classical group comes in to play for the anniversary celebrations of the first lunar landing. Their concert is almost like a lecture, because they talk a lot about their music before they play it. It’s from the Renaissance, really old, like around the 1500s. Their instruments aren’t that old, but they’re all a little different than modern instruments. Lute instead of guitar, harpsichord instead of a piano, that kind of thing. There’s this woman playing several different flute-type instruments, and the whole show, I keep thinking how much she reminds me of that guitarist. It takes me awhile now to think of his name. Martin Bushell. She moves like him, the way she holds her body and even her instruments, I mean. It’s uncanny, because it’s not like the flute and guitar are at all similar.

There’s a reception afterwards, and I enjoy talking with the musicians, finding out other music they like, where they’ve travelled, that kind of thing. When I finally meet the flutist, I tell her how much I enjoyed her performance, and then I blurt it out. “I don’t know if you’ll even know who I mean, but watching you, I was really reminded of Martin Bushell.”

Before I can continue explaining who he was, she turns white. I mean, ghost white. “He’s my husband,” she whispers.

And I have the most bizarre thought. That can’t be right, he’s dead. Glad I didn’t say that one out loud.

“He was my husband,” she adds. And tears start running down her face.

“I’m so sorry! I – I didn’t know,” I try to apologize. I feel like the biggest loser in the solar system. How could I have said something so bizarre? I can tell she is really shocked. But then she grabs my hands so tight that my bones crunch together.

“No. No. Thank you. That’s the most beautiful compliment anyone has ever given me.” She kisses me on the cheek and then one of her friends has come up and pulls her away. I still feel terrible, and I head over to the bar and nurse a drink, watching her and wishing I could take it back.

After a little while, the lutist comes up next to me to get a refill. He sees me watching her, and I tell him what happened, and how bad I feel. He nods and sips his beer, not saying anything for a few minutes. We both watch her on the other side of the room.

“She really loved him. He used to play with us sometimes. Yeah, I know, you wouldn’t think it, but actually, it really worked well. He was a great guy. We all still miss him, even though life goes on.”

He gives me this really intense look, then shrugs. “Funny that no one ever mentioned that before, but you’re right. They were cut from the same cloth. Musical soulmates, you might say.” He looks across the room again and lifts his glass in a salute. “Some things just need to be said, I guess… I think she’s gonna be okay.”

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Maize, Malachi

Baltimore Consort, La Rocque and Roll – Popular Music of Renaissance France

Time writing:
35 minutes

March word count:


  1. Nice! This one seems like a complete short-short to me. Sorry I didn't get to do this day...

    1. No worries. You do have a *few* things going on. I love that you're joining me, but never feel obligated when it doesn't work!