Unveiling

It is just a bad feeling that makes me look back. A warning in the back of my brain; like a voice, like a buzzing, a wasp, a bee, a shout, a whisper. I stop walking and look at my reflection in a shop window, pretending to check my hair but really peering past my shoulder.

He is there. Walking slowly, purposefully towards me, and tap-tap-tapping with his cane. The taps echo like drumbeats in my ribcage, like the strokes of a giant clock that booms out the final hours of the souls on the Last Mile. I know that I cannot hide much longer, that my time of indecision is coming to an end.

Then he is gone; I catch the smallest movement of a slim shape that fades into shadow as I watch it in the glass. A barely-there darkness, a gathering of grays, lurks behind the plantings of the next shop. He has paused, perhaps to listen for my breathing, perhaps to catch my perfume on the wind. I pick up my pace and flit from storefront to storefront, knowing I can’t evade my promise for long. I slip into a boutique and loiter a while, fingering faux fur and rhinestone, counting minutes. When I come out, I find a sheet of music paper taped to the door with one word scrawled in pencil: Please.

A panicked bird flutters up from my heart into my throat and lingers there as I hurry out of the shop and flee past the last few shops to the post office that marks the end of Main Street. I hear his footfalls behind me; I freeze my every muscle in the hopes that he won’t know I am here. He is so close that I can hear his inhale and then, in a quiet voice, he says my name.

No, I can’t! I can’t! This isn’t what I wanted, my mind screams as I seek escape. I can go no further; the safe little street ends here, merges and expands into a four-lane road littered with strip malls. It cannot be crossed. Maybe by me, but certainly not by him. Reluctantly, I turn around and face his percussive approach.

He must sense that I am near, for he pauses in step and reaches a hand towards me. The cane hovers just above the sidewalk, its red tip ready to warn his fingers of the slightest imperfection in the sidewalk. The hand hangs in the air between us; I look at it as if it were a thing new to me and not a hand I’ve memorized over the last year. Every Thursday, I have sat beside him on the piano bench to watch these hands study a new piece. First the left hand plays as the right hand reads the music; then they exchange places. Finally, both hands reunite on the keyboard to hammer out their individual songs in harmony. His face, serene and still, belies the rapture that must rise in his heart at such a beautiful pairing.

He cannot see the delight in my own face; the way my teeth bite my lip as I watch the fine bones of his hands moving under the muscles. Does he see the elated tears that spring to my eyes as those strong fingers coax newborn notes from the ivory? No, he does not see, and he does not understand the suddenness of my decision when I decide to end the lessons. A week has passed, and our conversations since then have led to this inevitable moment.

The hand still hangs in the air; it asks a silent question. Sighing, I lightly touch his sleeve and say, All right.

A smile plays with the edges of his mouth as he steps closer and holds out the cane. I take it from him and stand still. His hands come up and hover near my shoulders, my neck; they hesitate, as if they know that this moment marks an end of things as they were. It is the end of anonymity; the end of the teacher and pupil.

His places his hands on my shoulders and moves them slowly upwards. His fingers reach my neck and slide upwards to ponder the curve of my jawline; one thumb on each hand traces the edge where jawbone meets softer flesh beneath it; the hollow that forms there. His fingers spread to two V-shapes that search the upper curve of my jaw, cheekbone, and ear. I close my eyes and just let it happen, this slow unearthing, this surrender of my veil. Inching across my cheeks and the bridge of my nose, his fingers discover the shapes of my face. Gently, they touch like the lightest breath upon my eyelids, my eyelashes, and then my temples, learning them. A firmer touch carries him up over my forehead and then onto my hair, a tress of which he caresses between two fingers and then slides through the fork of the entire hand.

Thank you, he whispers, and returns his hands to my shoulders. I surrender into his embrace and rest my head on his shoulder, and in that moment I decide.








The assignment in this Flash Fiction Friday was to begin a story with "It was just a bad feeling ..." I changed verb tense, and ran with it.

16 comments:

FCC (Future Celebrity Champion) said...

You warm our souls with the sliver of yours that you share with us every few nights

The real me said...

A panicked bird flutters up from my heart into my throat and lingers there...


That was awesome!

Bill said...

My, that was very fine. Suspenseful, too. I wasn't sure where it was going. I like the way you use language too. Interesting how different people have different writing styles. Very good.

babyjewels said...

Excellent. I really felt lost in that while reading.

Roxy said...

"A warning in the back of my brain; like a voice, like a buzzing, a wasp, a bee, a shout, a whisper."

What a way to engage your audience...

Thanks!

sweet trini said...

this is breathtaking and engrossing and surprising and makes me want to rewrite my effort.
walk good.

Weary Hag said...

What a great piece of writing! My, my ... you do have a way with words.

As someone else already said (doncha hate that?) ... I felt 'lost' within the story while reading. Great job!

Sylvana said...

Intriguing!

BallerinaGurl said...

THank you so much for the compliment! Which blog do I respond to??? This one?

Cool pics both your profile and the one with the girl in the roses! LOVE IT! Stunning!!

Come back and visit my blog any time!

Rex Venom said...

Wow....
Really. Wow.
Rock on!

Kid Ric said...

Very nice piece. I completely enjoyed it. Thank you.

Peace, love and light.

canis lupus said...

Me thinks we have the makings of a budding and splendid (not to mention ravishing) novelist. Delightful.

(And now I return to wiping off the steam on computer screen.)

hyena9 said...

Not only is this very well written, but you invite the reader into your world with such delicacy and power. I do wonder why she walked away from him at first and at the end I was howling, "What?!? What did you decide in that moment??" I want more!!!

Sylvana said...

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

g said...

Yes, very nice. Ambiguous. Perilous. Sensual. Who is the student? Who is the teacher?

J said...

I liked this one better as it went on more. My favorite part was the term "percussive approach" and I was truly surprised when I found out what he was after.