General Fiction posted May 20, 2019

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
A women sees a face she recognizes in a crowd

Traces of the past

by oliver818

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

The staring faces shifted in and out of view in between the strokes of numerous bows. Her cello vibrated deeply as her left hand rotated, creating a velvety vibrato.

A muscle pulled tight in her right shoulder, but she played on. It had been three years but sometimes her body still ached as if it happened yesterday.

Most of the birds had flown south again leaving the garden a mass of quiet shadows by the time she realized she not only still wanted to play, but could still play. A grey cat had raised it head, ears back, as her bow ran over the cello strings.

At night, his face returned in the dark. His hissing voice called for her to return to him. Only the slow notes of the cello concerto, kept her safe with their deep, earthy vibrations.

No one mentioned her absence, but some people smiled when she returned to rehearsal. The conductor looked her in her eyes and asked if she was ready. Her reply was a deep, perfect, heart-breaking performance, her fingers dancing like tiny wings over the strings. His head bowed, and he nodded.

"You've improved. I don't know how, but you've improved."

Cellists accompany, and that was her gift. And yet she lead her section like a general, with humility, humor, generosity and a strictness for detail that led to long, sleepless nights for everyone.

Sweat ran down her collar, as she counted. The violins and violas were playing now, high and bright, and her breathing slowed. Faces blurred in the audience, and one that might have been her mother smiled.

Suddenly, one face seemed to solidify in the mass. Those lips, a thin mustache running over them, and higher up, the cold, hard eyes of the man who had raped her.

The smell of the damp, rotting leaves, the soft mud, and the buzz of the cicadas came back to her. The path home ran through the park and up behind her house, cutting ten minutes off the walk from the station. Her lips burned and the taste of beer and peanuts lingered. Had Jimmy really kissed her? What would her mum say? She'd probably be pleased to be honest. But Laura had only one passion- the cello. She sped up, hoping to be able to practice more that evening before sleeping.

Her feet sunk into the mud as she felt the prick of the knife on her throat.

"Don't scream," the voice said, "or I'll cut out your tongue."

As the violins played on, Laura mentally ran her finger along the scar where his knife pierced her neck on the way to the car.

Smokey breath flowed over her face, and a thick, tangy mixture of sweat and something else came off his body. His cold fingers tore at her underwear, and as he pushed himself into her, a cello concerto played on the car radio- one she knew so well that she could close her eyes, feel the bow in her hand, the cool wood of the cello in the other, the bite of the strings into her hardened fingers, and ignore the pain.

The violins were playing faster now and the conductor looked at the cellists, it was almost time to come in.

Something in her broke like a string tightened one notch too far. The opening chords of the concerto filled her mind and the conductor nodded. Her fingers touched the strings, and she glided her bow across them with thick strokes. Her A was like oil on the water of the other cellists D flat but she continued anyway. The cellist next to her caught her eye, then stopped playing but Laura rushed forward like a sperm towards an egg.

The eyes of the rapist widened in the distance. The sounds around her began to fade, the conductors baton slowed and dropped, his white teeth glinting in the stage lights. Still she played, the notes of the concerto ricocheting out into the concert hall like tiny arrows. She was the only one playing now, deep, crisp music that filled the hall.

An uncanny whisper filled the hall and in the distance the lips under the mustache were shaking. His body shook as he raised himself up.

"Stop playing that," he yelled.

His face crashed into the lap of a man further along the aisle as he pushed his way along. Hauling himself up, his left leg thrust up and over the chair, and his body dropped to the floor in front of the stage. A climax was building. The ache in her shoulder was gone, and the music rose slowly like a wave.

Fingers appeared over the edge of the stage and then his face came up, followed by his long legs. Bows dropped to the ground and instruments tumbled over as he stumbled through the closely pressed mass of players. He dropped to his knees, his moist eyes staring into her face, his lips wide, teeth exposed.

"I'm sorry," he screamed. "I'll go to the police, I'll confess it all. Just stop playing, please. Stop playing."

"You didn't stop when I begged you," she whispered, a few hairs on the bow splitting and flying back. "And I won't stop for you until I've finished."

She reached the climax with a bang, and sunk back, the music rolling out like dawn over the soundscape of the hall. A single clap echoed, followed soon after by another.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by VMarguarite at

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