Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Prompt: The music comes so easily…until it goes

Karen’s mother was a pianist. There was no time in her life that didn’t include music. She tapped her fingers and toes in time to Mozart before she was born. Because it always surrounded her, it was years before anyone paid attention to what was in her. Whatever music she made on baby and preschool instruments was dismissed as play.

And then in kindergarten, there was a piano in the classroom. Karen’s teacher called the principal to come listen. When her mother came to pick her up, Karen’s audience had filled the room, sitting enraptured all day. They learned to establish rules, times for Karen to play. Because once she started, everything else stopped.

Someone brought in a violin to show Karen, and she never played piano again. But she made that violin sing, and people weep. Until she was introduced to the flute. She never picked up the violin again.

And so it went. Each new instrument brought a wealth of new music. The price was the last instrument. It seemed a fair trade, and no one knew the depth of it until later. When Karen tried to return to piano, she couldn’t play a note. Her fingers could tap the keys and produce sound. She could read the most complicated scores. But she could not put the two together, no matter how she tried. She lay her head on the keyboard and wept. Until someone brought a piccolo to distract her. After a few weeks, she decided it was too screechy and picked up the viola.

Karen learned to take her time with each instrument. She had no learning curve. From the moment she touched it, she could draw music from it like the most seasoned professional musician. She undertook the challenge to play everything ever written for each instrument. Because once she left, she knew, somehow, she could never return.

She treasured every piece, every style, even the ones she didn’t particularly care for. She would never name favorites, likes or dislikes. It felt disloyal to the instrument, to the music.

People called her talent a gift. Sometimes she thought it was a curse. She longed to play the piano again. She had been so young. She hadn’t even known Chopin, or Beethoven. She could play them on other instruments, the clavinet, the dulcitone, but it wasn’t the same. In her teens, when she was working her way through the cello, she was at a party and someone tossed her castinets. She caught them out of the air and started a rapid-fire rhythm, tears running down her face as she realized the cello was lost to her forever.

When she was 19, away at Juliard, her father called. It was time to come home. Her mother was dying. Karen drove through the night and never left her mother’s side, playing the guitar day and night to soothe her mother and help her sleep through the pain of those final weeks. The day her mother died, she lay down the guitar and swore she would never play it again.

That night, the dreams began.

Yo Yo Ma, Bach Cello Suites
Time writing:
~30 minutes
July word count:


  1. Ooo, chilling. The telling of background probably goes on a bit long, but I like all of it! Could probably be made more concise in revision and keep the good chill...

  2. New plan: I'll tell you about the writing I did *yesterday*. Sometimes I don't have time to visit the internet after writing!

    Yesterday: novel editing 45min with baby + 30min without

    1. LOL You probably got more done in the 30 minute session, I'm betting ;)
      Good work though. Keep it up!