The Violinist’s Wife

A new story from Summers Fiction class ….
The Violinist’s Wife
     Theodore is holding her intimately again, gently and warmly, as he has held her every single day for several weeks now. Without a doubt she is his one true love. From the doorway of his studio I stand back and watch him embrace her. I covet the way he lays her body against him, the way they seem to seamlessly fit together, the way they seem to be made for one another. Eavesdrop on her scream and whisper in crescendos, singing high, low, and every note in between. Teddy told me before we were married that he couldn’t possibly love another more than me, but I’m afraid I just can’t see it. He absolutely adores her. And truth be told, how can I deny him the pureness and beauty of his love? When he glides his bow over her strings, the singing of the vibration, the burning of the notes, there is nothing else like it. Theodore’s violin is the woman he pines for, the one he desires. Late at night after we make love, I know her harmony fills his dreams.
     Theodore is playing in legato enhanced by vibrato, the notes flow like streams, one over another. As I lean against the entryway to watch, I see he is unwilling to part from her. As I turn to leave, he sees me from the corner of his eye, and looks up abruptly. He is still sliding the bow across her strings, his fingers hovering over the delicate curve of her neck. He pauses …
      “What is it Carly?”
      “Oh … Nothing.”  I recognize my reply is fragile.
     He narrows his eyes. “Sugar? You seem …” Whatever it was that he thought I seem he doesn’t finish. He exhales and turns back to the sheet music in front of him. “I should practice a while longer. Why don’t you get dinner started?”
     Oh sheesh! I nod. Dinner. It’s what the violin cannot provide. I turn reluctantly to go to the kitchen. The music resumes to breath over me. The sound is so clear it fills my chest. I long to be Theo’s violin, I ache to be a part of it all. I never have had the head for the wonders he and his violin can create. Although I love it, when I tried my hand at music, I could not throw myself fully into it with passion. Writing was more my thing. Now I wish that I could, to save myself from the loneliness. When Theodore is not creating music with her for himself, he is performing for the Philharmonic.
     His love for her has taken him farther than his love for me ever could. Far, far from me. The music he makes is so beautiful; I can sense his romance with her with every single note. The slow concertos are like a fairytale love story, in which you anticipate the prince to find his princess. When Theo plays a daring suite, I can see the dancers in shimmering dresses throw sparkles across the spotless polished wood dance floor, the stuff of storybooks. That is the potency of their love.
     I know that it is silly, always very silly, to be resentful of an inanimate instrument. Who could I tell? Who would listen? But she seems to be alive under Theodore’s touch, and he is unwilling to part from her. From the studio, I can hear the mood of the piece he is playing flawlessly change. The notes rise and become sharp and quick. This new melody is upbeat, almost has a bounce to it. The bow slides quickly, the violin moans from pressured strings, notes tremble in the air, breaking silence into sparkling shards.
     Ambling into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator, I realize how low we are on anything that can remotely call healthy. We, well mainly he, make good money. However, he is so preoccupied with her, he hasn’t bothered to grocery shop, and I have been swamped for the past month. Today, really, has been the first day I haven’t had pages to mark up, change, and re-edit for all of January. Releasing a weary sigh, I walk towards the front door of our flat.
     “Theo,” I shout.
      The music continues to spill out of the studio.
     “I’m going to the grocery store,” I continued perfunctorily, knowing that my words were drowning under the melody. His performing is ceaseless. I turn and gather my coat from the nearby rack and grey scarf. I open the door and stare. The hallway is nippy. *sigh* I have zero desire to shop. I quickly realize. I have no desire for anything. I step back and close the door. I do have a desire. I want my husband back. Theo has been seduced by the magic and mystery carried in his music. Biting my lip, I turn away from the door and toss my scarf and coat on the floor. I proceed towards his studio. He has paused momentarily, and is leaning over the gorgeous mahogany violin to scribble a few notes to himself. He looks up and sees me in the hallway.
       “I thought you were going shopping?” He sweeps a strand of hair that has fallen loose from his ponytail behind his ear.
     “I’d rather you came with me.” The words fell out quietly. “It’s freezing outside, and the city is so…” my voice trailing off when I see the look on his face. “Forget I said anything,” I say stupidly. What the hell else can you say to a musician?
     But the look he gives me is not what I expect. His eyes hold me captive. It brings to mind the first time he caught my look from the stage long before we were married. He was playing a Paganini Violin Concerto.  And I remember the way he played her, as if just playing for me, just me alone. The auditorium dimmed, the symphony orchestra became soft, and it was only he and I and the music. The sound … of the violin … so brittle and innocent … with a touch of bittersweet and longing … made my heart ache and remember … many things. She was not a figure at all, but an instrument for our love. I believed we glowed that night. The intensity of the gaze he is giving me, in silence, is the same but, I cannot read its intention. I am anxious about what he will say to me.
     “I’ll order out and go shopping tomorrow, ok?” My voice is pleading, I’m not sure what for …
     Theo breaks his look and nods, “That’s fine.” As I turn to go, he begins to play differently now. He is playing her spiccato, hitting her strings with his bow, notes being bounced off. The song he is playing sounds downcast, yielding eerie memories. My mind conjures up the impressions of storm clouds, amassing to form a funnel over some distant plain.
     I leave the room and wander down the dimmed hallway. Our flat is considerable, painted in warm tones of deep red, and muted orange.  We’re the sort that decorates with fresh cut flowers and candles, and with paintings blended so beautifully with colors, and no lines to tell me who I should be or where I have to end. But despite all of our best efforts, there is a chill in the place that apparently cannot be lifted. Even Theo’s love for his violin can’t exorcise the concealed threads of ice. I pick up the phone and speed-dial the number for the pizza parlor a block and a half away. I order a large half- California Club and half-Hawaiian. Sometimes compromising is the easiest. And besides, I don’t want to interrupt the music any more than I can help it. But damn …
     I decide to head for the bathroom right across the hall from me. It has a large, spacious bathtub, the kind with the soothing jets. I scarcely ever use them, but their comfort is not lost on me. I usually shower, so I don’t waste valuable time I could be spending on changing tenses, and amending ‘there’ to ‘their’ on a sloppy manuscript. Besides, this bathtub seems to be full of memories.  I turn the handle and soon steam rises off silken water, with bubbles floating through the air. Sitting on the side of the tub I take my slippers off and dip my feet in the water.
     It was just about a year ago from this very place that I had rushed to show Theo the plus sign on my pregnancy test. He had loved me then, and he had loved the new life inside of me. Two and a half months later I felt something was terribly wrong, so I crept to the bathroom. Soon enough I had discovered it; blood, lots of it. I knew I was losing it. You can’t lose this much blood and expect it to still be alive, still be breathing … of course not … it is impossible. The pain, the cramps, they were unbearable, the vomiting, the dizziness, all of it … too much to take. I took some medicine, lay in the bed, and eventually slept the rest of the day and night out.
     The next day I spent the entire afternoon in this tub, contemplating how my body had become a tomb. I was devastated and inconsolable. Theo had sat on the toilet next to the bathtub, leaning over me, rubbing my hand. There was nothing for it, nothing was said. He left the room and silently came back with his violin, and sat there and played. Quietly weeping, the violin moans from pressured strings. He played for me then, but I think he was playing for himself as well. The notes fill my chest as my tears would not stop. His music has always been where he has thrown himself, and the way he played her that day, we shared the lamentation. Before long, tear drops stain the mahogany one by one …
     I would not return to that day for anything, but he used that violin to love me. Now he only loves her. I suppose I cannot blame him. After that day, several months later, I had another. Children cannot grow inside of me. It’s like I was poison to them! And it was Theo who became inconsolable. He had never verbalized he wanted children, not aloud, anyway. But he way his face lit up when I told him, and the way he played when they passed from me … I knew how very much he aspired to be a father. Perhaps that is why he prefers her to me. With his violin he can create. She is superior where I have failed. Sometimes fate is so cruel.
    I turn off the jets and kick my feet softly in the warm water, Theo’s playing has stopped. I hear the front door shut.  There is silence for a moment. Then I hear footsteps coming closer to the bathroom.
     “I guess you didn’t hear the door Hun. It’s on the counter if you want any.” He pokes his head in the doorway then pauses before speaking. “Carly, is something wrong?”
     I look down at my feet making small ripples in the water and finally shake my head.
     “Have you … Have you been crying?”
     I keep looking at my knees above the bubbles and don’t answer. I want him to take me in his arms and hold me, but I know very well that he won’t. I wait a few seconds which feel like minutes. At long last he grips he door face, tightly, before turning away. “Don’t let it get cold,” he says half-heartedly as he begins to amble down the hall.
     He never eats in the studio so I know that he is sitting at the table, or at the very least hovering over the counter. I get up to rinse my hair then drain the bathtub. Dinner together, even in this state is more appealing than the alternative, dinner alone. I step out onto the floor. “Crap! There are no towels.” While puddles form around my feet, I slip on my robe that was still hanging from the door, and proceed to make little footprints on the hardwood floor as I walk to the kitchen and dining area.
     As I supposed, Theo is leaning over the kitchen counter, munching on a piece of Hawaiian while looking out the window at the wall across the alleyway. He has a plate set out for me beside the pizza box. I open and take out a piece of the California Club. Trying to smile at him, and then giving up, I pick off a slice of avocado and pop it in my mouth, taking the plate and the pizza to the table.
    “Carly?” he says after a while.
     I look up at him. He walks up to the table and sits across from me, a vase of tired Peonies between us. He’s got the look on his face of a man grasping for words. He seems to mentally shrug and continues, “The new piece is difficult. I keep getting distracted, slipping into older pieces. More natural I suppose …”
     I nod slowly. “It sounds nice from what I can hear.”
     “It’ll be better when I can play it smoothly, of course”
     I stare at my plate, picking at the peppers and chicken distractedly. Then I stand up. “Do you want anything to drink?
     “Yeah … Sure … Is there any orange juice?”
     Opening the refrigerator, I am again instantly reminded about how low our supplies are. “I guess I really should have gone shopping. There isn’t any.” I pour two glasses of water and bring them back to the table. We both sit. We both eat. Neither of us speaks.
     “How is the manuscript going?” Theo asks after wiping his face on a napkin.
     I shrug. “There’s nothing to write home about.”
     “Well maybe you should!”
     “What???”
     Why don’t you actually take up writing instead of just tearing other people’s to pieces? You always can find just the right words!”
     The suggestion strikes me. I’ve thought about it many times, but the excuses then begin, real and imagined, and those in between, to avoid actually doing it. “Oh please,” I say, trying to sound casual and amused. “One artist is quite enough in the house.”
    “I’m sure you would be good at it!”
     I shake my head. “No … No … I’m … I’m content.”
     “But are you really happy?”
     I force a smile as I look up at him. “When I am not, I know that this too shall pass. You should just be concerned with getting that piece prepared in time for the Spring Concert.”
     He rises and picks up his plate and carries it to the dishwasher with a sigh. After standing for a moment he turns and says softly, “It’s not a piece for the Spring Concert.”
     I cannot hide my confusion. “Are you not playing? You are almost always first chair. You are expected to be there. You can’t possibly be thinking of sitting this one out!”
    “I can be!” he declares, rubbing his bottom lip with his long thin musician’s fingers. “Come here.”
     Theo takes my hand and leads me back to his studio and sets me down on the window seat, the one with the decidedly better view. With extreme care he opens the violin’s case, and lifts her by the neck-gently. Caressing the smooth varnish upon the carved surface, he lifts her to his shoulder, and the tension heats. Horse hair placed at rest upon strings. All thoughts leave my head. With a silent sigh of anticipation, and an inward breath and preparation, with a flicker of light in the dark of clover eyes, he begins to play. I have heard him play all day, but this time he has made it clear that he wants me to listen. And so I do.
     Describing the composition without poetry would be hard not to do. The violin plays my soul as my heart glides across the strings. The beat of my existence represents a sad tale, of loss, pain, and suffering that can only be freed through the expression of string and bow pressure momentously singing notes. There is a passion, an immense terrible passion that overcomes me, it crescendos throughout my being. I can see it in the shift of his expression, in the concentrated frown of his mouth and in the sincerity of his half-closed eyes. I could almost hear the words in every touch. The song trails off into a sweet, deep melody, and then jumps up into lightness with sudden staccato.
     I’m sure that this piece is not one I’ve heard before, but there is something intimate and familiar to it. It wraps around me, filling me with is deep vibration. I feel the song binding me up, but softly, carefully. What makes Theo’s playing different I realize, is that he is not playing it to hear the sounds she makes. He seems to be waiting for something in the playing, and when he is finished, he looks up at me. The decrescendo lingers in the air.
     “That was … That was …” I begin standing up.
     “For you.” He said quietly. “Carly, are you going to leave?”
     “Wh-what?” my voice stumbles.
     “I’ve seen the way you … Like he rooms you are in no longer matters. Like you are planning to get out, to get away … Of all of this.”
     I am taken aback. I look down toward my toes and shake my head. Looking up I reveal, “I don’t know Theo. I’m going around and around in circles.”
     He puts his violin back in her case and closes it as she has completed playing her part in this. Then he takes my hand and pulls me close. We embrace, and the warmth of it that rushes through me is far greater than any music, or perhaps borne of it. Holding on to him, and bury my head in his chest. My heart is beating fast, allegro. I could swear I am hearing symphonies …
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