The Violin

She never thought she'd ever have to look upon it again. Yet there it was sitting before her as she had left it one year back. Clumsily tossed against the farthest closet corner. Hidden in the recess by shadows and darkness. Forgotten and forsaken along with the memories that accompanied it. Christy Harper now stood before it, remembrance flooding back with sickening anguish.

Lack of money had forced her to put her house up for sale, and she had been in the process of packing away her belongings. She had been busy all morning carrying cardboard boxes to the U-Haul truck parked in her driveway. How funny that this one object now before her could stop her from her work, and cause her to relive the pain that she thought she had long since left behind. Now she would be leaving behind even more memories. The like that she did not care to. She would soon move out of the place she had lived in since birth.

Her father had left the house when Christy was a mere child. He was never able to compromise for her mother's busy lifestyle. As a result, the marriage began to crumble in the likeness of an ancient ruin. Time brought down the strong pillars of support, and the building blocks became decayed with neglect. Growing up in the huge mansion alone caused the two became close. They shared a loving bond between mother and daughter, as well as a common love and interest.

"You see Christy, this is the E string, the A, the D, and the G." Her mother's porcelain finger pointed to each of the violin strings as she said their names a loud. "Now let's see if you can say them."

That had been the start of their first lesson. Christy's mother, Jenny, had once been a student of Juliard for her skill with the violin. Her daughter, having practically grown up in prestigious concert halls across the nation, always had the same desire to learn the instrument as well as her mother. She also agreed with her mother's view of the violin. "There is nothing with more aptitude for changing the heart as that of a violin playing out its soul."

Christy now stared down at the violin case and thought back on these words. 'Nothing in the world can change my heart for the way I feel towards you.' Hot tears began to well up within her eyes, and she quickly blinked them away. She knelt to examine the case further out of curiosity. The once gleaming brown had been tarnished and scratched by the claws of age. Not many would be able to guess that this beaten and battered case was hiding a majestic beauty within it, much in the likeness of a cocoon and its butterfly.

"The time has come for me to pass this violin on to you, my girl! For it is only fitting that the world's best violinist have the most amazing instrument in existence. This violin, was made by the great Stradivarius himself, and there aren't many left of its kind. Considered to be one of the best violins in the world, it is only fitting for a child prodigy such as yourself to own it!"

The auditions for a spot in the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra were right around the bend and Christy intended to get that prestigious first chair. This was all the more important because she would be the youngest member ever to belong to the group at the youthful age of 18. She had been invited to audition due to her mother's persistence and recommendation. Unfortunately, the one person who had helped her the most would be unable to watch the tryout. Christy's mother had an out of town meeting with her agent, and would be unable to come. The day of the audition, nerves were running as could be predicted. Had it not been for her mother's kind words of encouragement, Christy may have backed out. "You are ready, and there isn't a doubt in my mind about this. You have trained long and hard for this. Use what you've learned and show all of it tonight! Good luck, I love you no matter what." That would prove to be the last time Christy would ever see her mother alive.

Peering down at the case, Christy slowly lifted the silver latches that kept the lid shut. Lifting the lid, she let out an emotional sob at seeing the wretched object. The beautiful reddish-brown wood still had its lustrous shine. The elegantly carved scrolls crowned the fingerboard with majesty. The soft blue velvet keeping it nestled safely from destruction. The long black bow had a small circle on the frog of it that had been made of mother of pearl. Its hairs were still heavily dusted with the rosin that had been there on that tragic evening. Such loveliness was hard to come by in the musical world. Odd how this grace had seemingly been the cause of tainting Christy's world forever.

When her name had finally been called to go in, Christy found herself full of confidence and pride. Her mother had been right. She was ready. Standing in front of the panel of judges, she answered their customary questions and introduced the piece that she was to play. Schubert's Ballade Erlkonig, one of the most difficult pieces ever composed. Her completion of this song had been widely broadcast, as she was only one of 5 people in the nation who were talented enough to play it flawlessly. Her enchanting audition was interrupted however. Barely half way through the song, a young man in uniform had rushed through the double doors leading into the audition area. "Are you Christy Harper, miss?"

It was then that Christy had found out that her mother had been killed in a head on collision with a semi-truck at a dangerous intersection. Jenny Harper had finished her meeting early and had tried to rush to the music hall to see her daughter's tryout. This rush caused her to drive through the road without heeding the stop sign. This proved to be a fatal mistake. Had it not been for the audition, her mother would still be alive. The car had been completely crushed, as were Christy's dreams. Vowing to herself never to play again, Christy had left the violin in the closet and tried to forget about it. Giving up her musical career, she had been forced to find other means of receiving income in order to keep up the stately house that she had inherited from her mother. Distraught and depressed, she moved from job to job without really caring. Having given up on her true love, Christy no longer had any ambitions. Carrying on such jobs hadn't been enough though, and it was for that reason that the government was repossessing her house.

Now she was in front of the very thing that she felt had caused all her problems. It was the only thing that could manage to get her out of them as well. 'If I could only play music again, I would once more be happy and perhaps even manage the money to keep this house.' How could she do that though without feeling guilt? Guilt for causing her mother's death. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she thought of what all she had lost. This great loss had been caused because of the violin. Because of her. What would her mother want her to do now with her life? 'It's just not fair'. With a rush of anger, Christy forcibly shoved the case from her as though warding off a demon. When she looked at it again, something caught her eye.

In pushing the case, a small compartment along the inside had revealed itself to her. Previously unnoticed, it appeared to be a storage area for a stick of rosin. No rosin was in it now, but instead there was a piece of paper. The note was slightly yellowed with age, but the sky blue ink was still readable. Hands shaking with anticipation, Christy reached forward to remove the note. She gasped as she recognized her mother's flowing handwriting.

To my daughter on the eve of her big debut as concertmistress-
There is no doubt in my mind that you shall gain anything less than first chair. All the long years of working and striving for perfection have amounted to this performance. To succeed you must believe in yourself, and I know that you are capable of this. I wanted you to know that even though I can not be with you at the audition, my thoughts and prayers are all for you! In certain aspects you are a continuation of me, of what I could have been, and in other ways you are so much more. I wish for you to keep this love of music continuing. The gift of music is something that should be passed along from generation to generation. For it has been written that life is a song and love is the music. I love you very much my girl! It was for this reason that I showed you the feeling of joy that comes from playing music all those years ago. I hope that you realize the important diplomat of necessity that music brings in our turmoil filled world. I would hope that you always carry out your dreams and goals, and let nothing stop you from falling short of them. There is nothing with more aptitude for changing the heart than that of a violin playing out its soul. I hope that you will continue to use your bow as a double-edged sword. The blades standing for beauty and grace. Now play, Christy. Play as such as you never have before. Remember that I love you no matter what.
Your Loving Mother

Christy had never felt as confused as she did at that moment. The revelation of what her mother would have her do was overwhelming. She knew in her heart that her mother would want her to continue on doing what she loved. It was then that it all became clear for her, and she saw the facts as they stood 'It was just an accident. My audition had nothing to do with my mother's death. If she were here, she would wish for me to go on with my aspirations.' "Believe in yourself," Wasn't that always what her mother had told her to do? Reaching down, Christy picked up the bow, and began tightening the hairs. Making it ready to play. Believe.

Gingerly, she grabbed for the violin. It had been so long. She gently swung the instrument upon her shoulder and struck a musical position. Her bow rested lightly in her right hand. She placed it onto the strings right between the bridge and the beginning of the fingerboard. Closing her eyes, Christy thought back to ten years before.

"Thank you Miss Harper, please proceed with playing your piece." With that, the dramatic chords had begun the enchanting melody that chilled one to the bone. The bow dipped and leapt from string to string. Her fingers danced along in a fast paced tarantella.

Playing the piece caused the memories to come back vividly. For that moment in time, Christy Harper was not standing in her repossessed mansion, but instead was back in the grand music hall that the audition had been. She could almost see the maroon cushioned seats in front of her in the darkened auditorium. The spotlight that had been on her as she stood quite minute compared to the grandness of the stage. The four judges seated right there in the first row. She still had it! Her fingers felt a prickly sensation as she played the various notes. So long. Yet the talent remained. Her eyes were half-closed in concentration. Christy needed no sheetmusic for this song for it was a part of her. The instrument and the girl were one. The relationship had been forged through diligent care and hard work. The long, strenuous hours had led to perfection. She had managed half way through the song.

"Are you Christy Harper, miss?" "Yes. What is the problem?" "It's your mother. I'm sorry." "My mother! What has happened?" "She has been involved in a head on collision with a semi-truck. Unfortunately she did not survive." Life is a song and love is the music, but from that moment on, the song of Christy's life had stopped.

Not anymore though. She now continued playing even after this point. Onward. Ever onward towards the end Christy played. A faint pride swelled in her as the last appregio faded from hearing. She had done it! Her heart had been changed. Christy knew then that she would once more reach for the stars to accomplish her goals, and strive for her dreams. Her life song had begun once more, and this time nothing could end it. After all, there is nothing with more aptitude for changing the heart, than a violin playing out its soul.