When The Music Stops

Chapter One

Mom looks over at me, aforcedsmile tugging at her facial muscles. "Now, don't slump, Beatrice. It's rude," she chides me. I want to smack her, but refrain and straighten up. Grumpily, I glare at all of Mom's fucking stupid co-workers. They are all sweaty old men in suits and ties. I am always quite paranoid when they compliment me for some reason, which is what they're doing now. It's different when its Mom's friends that have watched me grow up. They say, "Oh, what a beautiful young woman you have become," and it seems fairly normal.

Not when these men compliment me in the same fashion. "Oh, what a beautiful daughter you have" becomes a statement from a man who wants to fuck me. Maybe they are just curious about what the younger version of my mom looks like, but from the looks I'm getting, it doesn't seem that way.

Not that I am suggesting that I'm beautiful enough to draw in old perverted men, but to me, it doesn't seem like perverted old men really care if you're beautiful or not. I keep my lips shut tight, not comfortable with all of this attention at all.

"Yes, I would like to take credit for the way she has turned out. I mean, they are my genes after all." This is followed by an airy laugh that doesn't sound genuine at all. But, all of the men at the table laugh anyway. I shift in my seat when the man next to me seems to "accidentally" drop his cloth napkin on the ground of the really expensive restaurant. For fuck's sake, his head is nearly in my lap. But, he comes back up easily enough. The easy dinner chatter resumed while I was freaking the fuck out about the invasion of personal space. Before I can even sigh with relief, there is another one invading me from across the table.

"So, Beatrice, what are you going to have? Are you still ordering off the children's menu?" His tone is playful and teasing, but his eyes are mischievous and taunting. I don't want to have to explain that I'm fucking fifteen, already holding an adult menu, and that this restaurant is too classy to even think of putting a kid's menu out, but I hold my tongue, about ready to cry. Mom, either sensing my distress or just wanting to answer for me, comes to my rescue.

"Oh, Harold, you know that she's fifteen now. She's a big girl, right?" She turns toward me with this huge smile, and I just nod. Nothing can stop me from sensing the anticipation in all of their eyes. The gleam that announces the unspoken question starts to glimmer in their eyes. "Just how big is this girl?"

I'm paranoid, I know it. They aren't after me. Take deep breaths. Listen to the meaningless conversation drift away from me. Stare hard at the regal walls that definitely aren't closing in on me. Count to one hundred. Breathe slower. Calm my racing heart. Tug at the end of the tablecloth just inches from my lap. Force the tears back into my eyes and let them seep back into my fucking brain where they belong.

The baby-faced waiter comes to take our order and I take a deep breath. No one is looking at me now. But, everyone is looking at him, the poor guy who gets to be judged by the whole table for his choices. They look annoyed that their pre-dinner conversation has been cut off. I feel sorry for him, even though he looks unfazed by it. He's probably desensitized, or a robot or something.

"And you?" His fancy pen is poised on the fancy order-book. I realize that this is directed at me, and try to stutter out an order. Fuck, I totally don't know what I want. Nor do I even know what they have. I fumble for the menu, trying to hide my red face in it. I scan over as much of the page as I can, not really having enough time to register it in my brain, before I realize that this menu is several pages long. I was wondering why I was only looking at fucking salads and steaks.

"Um, I-I guess I'll have the… C-Cesar salad?" It was the first thing my eyes landed on. Gross. I don't even like spinach. Nor do I know what the fucking salad actually has in it.

"Mm-hmm, fine choice." Something tells me he would've said that even if I asked for something fucking repulsive like seaweed, cheese, and nail clippings. "And to drink?" Oh. Fuck. More embarrassment. People here probably think I'm immature and childish at this point. Not that I'm even trying to impress anyone, quite the opposite actually, but it seems like my shy, embarrassed way is making the gleam in their eyes more frightening.

Fuck, I am so paranoid.

"J-just water is fine, thank you," I murmur under my breath.

"Lemon or no lemon?" More questions? Please, make it stop. Everyone is staring at me, judging my actions.

"No lemon." He makes more marks on his fucking paper and walks away. Thank fuck. No, wait, this only means people are resuming conversation. Please not about me, please not about me.

I take a shuddery breath as conversation about adult things starts to take over. At least it's not about me. I clench my stupid dress in my fists, crumpling the fucking material. Why am I even fucking here? Why am I forced to take part in this fucking charade? My stupid anxiety is making this much harder than it needs to be. I can't believe that Mom's boss wanted me to fucking be here. It's fucking stupid. Why would he want me here with all of the adults? I'm not even contributing to the conversation or anything, so why—

I glance up at the man sitting next to Mom. Mom's stopped talking, looking a little concerned about something. But, she's not looking at me, only staring down at the empty space on the table in front of her. The man next to her is Mom's boss, Walter. Almost as if sensing my gaze on him, he turns to sneer devilishly at me. Terrified, I freeze, my veins pooling with the adrenaline and the blood racing through my ears. Even though it's cold in the restaurant, I break out in a nervous sweat. Sweat pools in my armpits, probably staining my fucking expensive dress. Mom probably wouldn't let me wear it again anyway.

"Hey, kiddo." Don't call me that, you fucking douche. "Don't you think that's hilarious?" What's hilarious? Do you actually think I was listening to your fucking stupid conversation? But, I think everyone was laughing hysterically before, so I just nod numbly. His eyes are creeping me the fuck out. They're a very small squinty shape, and set far back in his head. His dark eyelids and under eye circles make them appear even farther back and quite Frankenstein-ish. Not to mention his lips pulled taut against that knowing smirk. I tremble a little bit, and I need a fucking drink. Anything to stop his fucking eyes from penetrating me, anything to stop hearing his fucking words that he hasn't spoken, and just as I'm about to clamp my fucking ears over my fucking hands to drown him the fuck out, the fucking waiter comes back with a tray of fucking drinks hoisted on his fucking shoulder.

"Water with no lemon?" I shakily raise my hand a little, not wanting to raise my arm from the stiff position clamped at my side. As I go to pick up the fucking drink, my hand shakes too fucking much to get a solid grip. The condensation makes the glass feel even slicker in my unsteady grasp. Instead of embarrassing myself with bringing a shaky cup to my lips, I just sit still with my hands folded neatly in my lap. If I just stay still enough, maybe no one will notice me.

I manage to calm down somewhat, and spare a quick glance at everyone around me. Mom still looks uncomfortable, not really looking anywhere but down. Walter, though, seems to be more animated than ever. He's talking amiably with all of the other fucking monsters, occasionally looking back at Mom with this fucking shit eating smile. The smile does nothing for her and she looks like she's going to fucking puke everywhere. Again, she's straining some pathetic face movement, her mouth muscles probably aching from all of these fucking forced smiles lately. I wonder if she has to force one at work too, and if that's why her actual fucking smiles are now less frequent. When he turns back around, the charismatic grin disappears instantly. Is the reason she brought me here because he asked and she would lose her fucking job if she refused? What if Mom is in some horrible relationship with him where she is getting fucking abused? What if—

Something cold touches my bare leg. I jump a little, not expecting anything at all with my fucking thoughts drowned in worry. Wait, what if I should expect shit like this so I don't jump and fucking embarrass myself? Should I start trying to expect shit more often? Wait, more importantly, what the fuck was that? It felt really fucking weird, and now where it touched my leg it tingles. The man across from me, Harold I think, smirks at me in that same terrifying way. He murmurs, "Sorry," but he doesn't look fucking sorry at all. He looks like he fucking enjoys that. Touching me. Again, I feel utterly defenseless and uncomfortable. I try to remind myself I'm just paranoid, no reason to freak the fuck out. But looking at his teeth gleam in the dim lighting of this restaurant, I can't help but thinking that he wants to hurt me for some fucking reason. He has the eyes of a killer and the mouth of a rapist.

God, I need to stop thinking about this so fucking much. I begin to count slowly up to one hundred again, taking deep, calming breaths as I do. Before I can even reach one hundred, the waiter is back with the fucking plethora of food. How can this group eat that much fucking food? It seems like a waste to me, a waste of food and a waste of money. There really isn't anything I can do, or anything I want to say about it, so I just grab my plate as it's handed to me. I'm not really eating, too fucking disturbed by the far too frequent encounter with these people. These… monsters. I want to convince myself it was all a fucking accident, but I feel way too suspicious by the amount of fucking coincidences today. I don't want to believe in fucking coincidences anyway. It's like believing in fucking fate, and believing in fucking fate is like believing in fucking God, and believing in fucking God is like thinking that someone is in fucking control of this, and if someone is in fucking control of this, why aren't they fucking helping me? Unless they're fucking evil, which totally goes against every-fucking-thing we've been told.

Why am I still fucking thinking about this?

I do try to take a few bites of the salad, but the price and the amount are really killing my appetite. Plus, I don't fucking like spinach. The waiter is still standing there even after he handed everyone the food. It feels rude somehow to ignore him and continue eating, so I stop and look expectantly at him. At my look, he feels this is the opportunity to say what is on his fucking mind.

"I would just like to inform all of you that we are having a live concert tonight. We have a violinist playing, and she is really quite something to see. I hope you enjoy her, and your meal." The group listens to him, but does not acknowledge him. I feel a little bad as he walks away almost like a puppy with its tail between its fucking legs. Waiters are always ignored, aren't they? Even though they are the one serving them, they do not fucking appreciate it at all. Maybe a solution would be to get a fucking robot to do it. That way, no one gets hurt and there's no one to fucking blame because it will be fucking perfect.

"Oh, yes, I've heard about this. She's supposed to be really good," Mom says, but with less feeling than when she got here. That fake fucking smile is in place, though. Walter looks at her with surprise.

"You knew she was playing tonight? Do you know if she is any good?" Mom seems to freak the fuck out a little when he talks to her. She stutters more, almost as if she is afraid of him or just taken aback by his questions. Is she surprised by all the interest in her? Is she surprised he wants to talk to her? Is she surprised that he doesn't know?

"Oh, y-yes, I hear she is quite lovely." She beams at him, all smiles. It's hard to tell if it's a real one or not, but it seems genuine enough. He gives her an ugly smile, one tainted with fucking lust or something probably. He seems like a fucking filthy person, I don't know why. Is it wrong to judge him like this? Or am I doing the right thing by being cautious? It couldn't hurt to be extra cautious and prepared, right?

I should stop fucking thinking about this. I should stop fucking thinking at all. Stop thinking about these fucking men, and stop thinking about my fucking anxiety.

Stagehands are setting up some quality equipment. They move swiftly, trying to make whatever deadline they have. It distracts me to watch them in a pleasant way. I feel calmer watching them rush around, setting speakers and microphones and all of the other equipment out. I'm able to take the deep breaths that I need, and not have to think about the men around me.

I'm only being paranoid. They aren't evil, they aren't mean, and they aren't trying to hurt me. More deep breaths. The stagehands leave. I turn back to the table, calmer than before. Mom looks slightly more worried than before, if that's even fucking possible. As soon as Walter stops talking to her and turns around that same worried expression comes back. I don't know why she would have to worry. She works with these people. She's used to them, right?

Again, I'm thinking about all of those "what if" situations. What if they abuse her? What if they are a secret organization that wants to recruit me or something like in fucking TV? What if this is all some evil plot to get me to do something I don't fucking want to? Why does she work with so many fucking men? It's weird; you would think there were more fucking women around her office. The only woman here is Mom, though. Are the other women sick or some shit?

The stagehands left during my fretful worries, and I turn my attention back to the stage. No one is coming out right now, but I'm sure that soon this allegedly good violinist will start to play. I like music, and I'm glad that there is going to be some here. Music soothes the soul. When I'm up late at night fretting about another anxious day to come, turning on some good music will calm me down. I'm playing my favorite song in my head at the moment, the lyrics screaming and bouncing around in my head. I begin to sway a little in my seat.

I realize what I'm doing, and look around, embarrassed. No one seems to be noticing me though. They are all excitedly talking. How the conversations change like that, I'll never fucking know. How they go from talking about the violinist to stories of concerts to Thanksgiving I'll never fucking know. Conversation has never been my strong point, I guess. It's not even that I'm that awkward, I don't think. I just don't have anything I have to say to people. Girls at school only ever gossip about fucking boys and clothes, and boys only ever talk about fucking sex. It's all so boring, nothing I ever want to fucking talk about. I don't know anything about boys, clothes, or sex. Sometimes I feel really fucking weird, but other times I feel like I'm the only fucking normal person in the whole world.

"It was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me! I had no idea why someone would come to my house trick-or-treating on Thanksgiving, but I guess I'll never know," some guy says, shaking his head. I don't even see how that's the weirdest thing that ever happened to someone. I've heard of way weirder stuff, but something makes me think that I don't count for some reason.

Something warm and textured starts to clamp down on my knee. I jump a little at the unexpected warm weight on my leg. It begins to move, the warm weight making me really fucking uncomfortable. The look on Walter's fucking face says it all. He's smirking at me with this knowing grin, and his hand continues to grope my fucking knee. The sensations are tingling all the way up my spine. I try to turn away, but his fingers dig firmly onto my knee.

"Don't move," he hisses into my ear. I freeze automatically and let him continue to touch my knee. I'm not sure what he's trying to accomplish by touching me there. I get no pleasure from this, only the sickening feeling in the pit of my fucking stomach that feels as if it weighs ten fucking pounds. It's like the excited butterflies in my stomach have turned to one big stone pit. I'm deadened by the feeling. Why does such a sadistic look cross his eyes when he is doing this? How is this enjoyable at all to him? All he's doing is touching my fucking knee. If I just act dead and as if this bores me, will he stop?

No, he continues to touch my knee right there. Stroking it, squeezing it, and never removing it from that spot. His hand is writhing and twitching across the surface of my knee, feeling the skin, trying to find a way inside of me. He wants to be lotion. He wants to soak into my skin and crawl into a deep pit in my body. Should I stop this? Should I say something? My vocal cords probably won't work anyway. My jaw is clenched tight, and my lips aren't opening anytime soon. Shouldn't we be fucking eating? Surely he has to remove his hand from my knee to eat, right?

Apparently, he doesn't. Stroking my knee with his left hand, eating with his right, and talking nonchalantly with his mouth, there is no way for anyone to realize what he is doing underneath the table. He occasionally looks over at me, gives me that sneer, and turns back to the discussion. Is he even trying to be inconspicuous? Is anyone even fucking paying attention?

The rough palm inches a little farther up my leg. Anymore, and he would be putting his fucking hands in my fucking skirt. That would go way too far. He wouldn't go that far, right? He's going to stop now, right? Please, make him fucking stop. I don't want this. I don't fucking want this. Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, fuck, fuck, fuck, just kill me now, stop it, stop it, stop it, please.

And that's when she walks out. The violinist, my savior. She walks out with a sophisticated air, with her shoulders thrown back and her head held high. She has this elegance about her that I just can't place. Maybe it's the way she walks, or maybe it's her entire being, but she is pure elegance. She has shiny black hair that goes down to her hips. She wears an expensive dress, far more expensive than the one I'm wearing now. It's short and tight, but she still looks classy in it. She is the epitome of beauty. She radiates it from her very core.

And, I think I want to be her in every way possible. I want to have been born as her, and I want to have walked the Earth as her.

His hand is creeping up my fucking thigh, getting dangerously fucking close. He already is too fucking close. I don't want anyone to fucking touch me, especially not this fucking man. His breath tickles my ear, and his speech is distorted with the low volume he whispers with. "Why, isn't she a beauty?" I can't help but agree. She is. She is absolutely stunning, actually. And then he says something that knocks me to the floor. "I think you're more beautiful, though." Why? I am a young girl, and you're an old man. Obviously, anyone my age appears attractive to you. You obviously have some sort of fucked up fetish.

His calloused hands wriggle farther up my fucking thighs. He's under my fucking skirt now. He's about to fucking touch me. He's about to fucking do it. Stop it, stop it, stop it, fuck, fuck, fuck, stop it, stop it, kill me, fuck, fuck, fuck.

But then the girl on stage whips her head toward him, her dark eyes blazing at him. She's glaring at him, I think. Why? Does she know? More adrenaline shoots through my veins. I'm so fucking embarrassed, although I don't know why. Why should I be embarrassed? I'm the victim, right? Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

I don't feel that way. I feel like I deserve this. Like I'm guilty and should be charged with something. This is all so fucking stupid. Why me? Why did it have to be fucking me?

His hand shoots out of my skirt faster than I can even fucking blink. I don't fucking relax though. I think I'm mentally fucking breaking down. No, wait, I'm too numb to do that. I can't feel anything. I'm not experiencing this right now. I'm far up in the skies where no one can fucking touch me. I'm out of my body. Out of this fucking room. I'm away from it all.

And then the beauty grounds me, sending me right back into my shell-shocked body. Right back into that regal dining room and right back to that music. It sounds like pure beauty to my ears. Its sound is sweet and harmonious. The stone in the pit of my stomach melts and the butterflies are back. They twitch and tickle the inside of my stomach. I'm transfixed in the music. The sweet melodies have a rough beat in the background to balance it out. It sounds like a mixture of techno, hip-hop, and classical. I want to get up and dance, but she is doing enough for both of us.

The violinist is trying to resist the music. She doesn't want to get too crazy for a high class restaurant. She tries to lock her muscles and joints so that she is standing still, but it looks so much more passionate while looking at her dance. She can't resist the temptation of losing herself to the music. Her body moves in a slow, graceful way, but also in a series of locked, gyrating movements. The bow is dipping back and forth in the air, angled to hit the right string perfectly. Her arms don't move much other than to play the instrument, but her legs are fast, slow, sensual, and passionate all at the same time. She moves in sync with the music because she is the music.

I am stimulated visually as well in a haunting explosion of limbs and sweet music. It flows deep into my soul, wakening something resting there. I feel like hot molten lava, bubbling and excited. Why am I so happy? Isn't this weird, to feel so happy all of a sudden? Is this even what happiness fucking is?

Also, at the same time, it makes me unbelievably sad in a tragic way. The way the violin whines and sings passionately shows there is so much more depth to it than fast movements and rough beats. It's also trying to tell me a message, I know it. I can't tell what it's trying to tell me. It weeps, but I have no way of communicating back. I want to smile and jump for joy, but I also want to curl into a ball and cry.

There isn't an inch of space on the stage that she doesn't use. She can't hold back anymore and composure is forgotten. She moves back and forth, and it's simply stunning. She will occasionally bend backwards a little, tilting her head up during the slow parts of the song, never removing the bow from the strings. The beat that comes from the speakers vibrates through the soles of my feet and into my chest, making me feel almost nauseous, but in a really, really pleasant way—which sounds really odd. And then there is the sweet melody of the violin that pierces the air with its tune, and I know that I will not be able to stand it if the music stops now. It's in the climax of the song, and the movements of the violinist have increased tenfold. She is moving wildly, but also fluidly. She hits the last major note, and the violin gives a few more purrs and mewls, before going silent.

And then the music stops.

As soon as the violin has stopped making any noise, the room erupts into chaos. What is even more chaotic is how the man beside me has a head that is enlarged three or four times its fucking average size. Walter's head is like a big fucking balloon. Swollen and distorted with the fucking enlargement, it looks like he's about to fucking pop. Fucking blood is trickling from his big ears, and sliding ever so slowly down his fucking neck. His eyes are bulging and his mouth is open to croak and moan. His fucking voice is rough and pleading, although he isn't making any fucking words. He seems incapable of making any fucking noise other than the tortuous moaning noise.

It seemed fucking impossible that his head could get any fucking bigger, but it continues to grow and fucking grow. He actually begins to fucking scream now, and it sends such a shock through me, I stand up, knocking the fucking chair back onto the fucking ground. I scramble the fuck away from him, his fucking screams increasing in volume until they are at the highest they can possibly get. My fucking ears ache. He is writhing, trying to get away from the fucking pain. His hands make it up to his head, and just as he grasps firmly onto his scalp, he fucking explodes. His fucking blood coats me, and squishy flesh flies all over the fucking floor. All that is left of him is the fucking blood coated space he was in before and his fucking body. He has no head. His fucking neck is shooting fucking blood still, trying to empty his fucking body of any fucking fluids that could have once kept him fucking alive.

Why isn't anyone else fucking screaming? I realize I'm fucking crying. Fucking tears are streaming down my fucking face and dripping onto the fucking floor. The fucking floor coated in fucking blood.

I think I'm going to be sick. I feel fucking nauseous and light headed. Is this even fucking happening right now? I don't know what's fucking real anymore.

And then the scene changes. I'm back in my seat, there's no blood on me or the floor, but I'm still crying and the man next to me is slumped over with a little trickle of blood coming from his ears. I'm not crying at the scene that just happened. I'm crying because that music saved me. Saved me from my emotions, saving me from the man, and I owe everything to that violin. No, I owe everything to that girl. People are looking at her in awe and clapping, and once she exits, their eyes lay on Walter's body.

He's pronounced dead as soon as the ambulance arrives.