Lacuna

January 22, 2010

Marie was always happiest in gaps. Empty spaces. As a child, she hid in the center of the clothing racks at department stores, or in the corner of the living room between sofa and loveseat. When it rained she tried to dart between drops to stay dry.

Her parents thought she needed a creative outlet and some discipline, so they enrolled her in violin lessons with an old man who was wiry and taut as a string, hair white as the horsehair he rosined.

His name was Mr. Rose and Marie was initially an apt pupil. She learned to read music readily, and could find the notes on the fretboard with ease. But she played her scales too slowly, waiting an eternity between each note. At last, in frustration, he brought out his metronome.

“Keep time with this,” he said, moving the weight to set it ticking, back and forth. Her mouth fell open. Her eyes unfocused. “Go on,” he urged.

She played every melody he set her perfectly, without hesitation. But what he couldn’t know was that she was really playing the spaces between.

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