Violin Transfer

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

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People of Color Contemporary Romance

“One-third of college students transfer before receiving their degree. Did you know that?” 

“I didn’t. You drove all the way back to our old high school just to tell someone that?” 

“One out of three means that in every threesome that happens at college, one of those people is so dissatisfied with the experience that they leave their school altogether.” 

“And, I guess, you also came to pick up that old violin swinging by your side. You’re planning to practice that thing at college?”

“Practice having threesomes? You know I’m not that kind of girl.” 

“I meant your violin, Vivi.” 

“Now, the question that I’m getting at here is: why do so many students transfer?” 

“I can’t believe you returned only for the sake of that violin.”  

“Well, fine then, what else would I return for?” 

“No—I just meant—you had some great memories here. You were top of the class, so successful—everyone wanted to be you. At awards ceremonies, we all had your full name memorized: Miss Vaishnavi Shamala Ravichandran.”

“I wouldn’t recommend being me. Getting a 100% as an average for a Latin class requires little sleep and lots of detailed nitpicking.” 

“You got a 100% average in a Latin class?” 

“Can we return to my point, Mister Nicholas Anirudh Williams?”

“A 100% average implies that you never made a single mistake on any assignment, the class had a lot of extra credit, or that you slept with your teacher.”

“I didn’t sleep with—the class was a bit of a joke, all right? It had a lot of extra credit. Now, can we please just get back to my point here?” 

“As you wish. What’s your point?” 

“As I was saying...I can only think of three reasons why anyone would transfer: they hate their original college, they’re trying to get into a better one, or they’ve changed their minds on what they want to study.” 

“I bet it’s usually the second one.” 

“Why? Is it so hard to believe that hatred motivates better than ambition can? You don’t think that the carrot is far less compelling that the stick?” 

“Which one got you to practice violin?” 

And we’re back.”  

“I’m just saying…there’s no way you’ll go back to practicing violin now. No matter your grade point average—you can’t ‘fake it till you make it’ for music.” 

“Oh, I never faked my academics!” 

“Heh, I know. But c’mon, you haven’t played violin in over a year now. You wouldn’t start playing now.”  

“S-Sure I would. And if I don’t, what’s it to you, anyway?” 

“It’s not—it’s not anything. So, what, are you thinking of transferring to a new college?” 

“What? No. No, that’s not what I intended to say.” 

“Then, what do you intend to say? You say so many things that I can’t read between the lines.”

“I just meant—that it’s nice, isn’t it? Returning to the old stomping grounds. We ruled the school from this very orchestra room, didn’t we?”

“You ruled the school more than me, remember? I found it all suffocating.” 

“Shhh…take a deep breath. You smell that? You hear it? The sweet scent of rosin, the sounds of squeaky stands and squeakier bows, even these blue chairs. Why does every orchestra space in every school have blue chairs?” 

“Hm. It is nice, you’re right.” 

“But I guess having good grades, doing a sport, and participating in a musical activity can make you seem like a ruler.” 

“You did a sport? On top of the 100% average?” 

“Although I regret my arrogance about it.” 

“You were never that arrogant.” 

“I pretended to be humble. Is pretended humility not arrogance?” 

“I suppose it is, but I never thought your humility as pretended, whenever you were humble. Were you on varsity?” 

“Hah. Orchestra didn't have varsity.” 

“I meant your sport.” 

“Oh, lacrosse? Yeah, I was. My friends and I tried to make being nerdy athletes cool.” 

“I found the whole concept of athletics suffocating. The jocks all sticking together and torturing the poor kids who weren’t athletic.” 

“You’re athletic, though. You’ve got those basketball arms.”

“Basketball arms? Now, what does that mean?” 

“I just—you know what I mean, Nick!” 

“I’m sure I don’t. But to answer your implied question, yes. I was athletic, but that doesn’t preclude me from feeling bad for others. And I was a nerd, too, remember? Playing an instrument, having friends who were in orchestra, too.” 

“All those nerds, all your friends—I’m sure they appreciated your pity.” 

“Now, wait—I never said I thought of myself as better than others.” 

“You implied it. And when you said that your nerd status rested solely on your ‘friends who were in orchestra,’ you meant friends…like me.” 

“No, no! I just meant—” 

“Were you embarrassed of us?” 

“No. Never, Vivi, never. I was never embarrassed of you.” 

“Let’s see, you’re clever, athletically-inclined, and musical—a rare combination.” 

“I sense a judgement coming on.” 

“You knew the lingo, you’re only half-South Asian, and you’re ripped enough to shoot a basketball but skinny enough to fit between the people at parties.” 

“So flattering.” 

“All so you could switch between real cool people, and us, is that right?” 

“And there it is.” 

“Then did you miss your violin while you were on campus? Did you miss the orchestra?” 

“Well, not exactly, no.” 

“Of course, you didn’t. Classic.” 

“You know, it’s no shame if you did.” 

“First years are at higher risk of homesickness, especially if they have a pre-existing mental health condition or if they are out-of-state. Did you know that?” 

“Were you homesick?” 

“I fit in the categories for both of those risk factors. My risk is nearly doubled compared to most first-years.” 

“I didn’t know that.” 

“That first years have a higher chance of wanting to go home?” 

“No, that you had a pre-existing mental health condition.” 

“I hid it.” 

“Even from your friends?” 

“Even from you, dear Nick.” 

“Friends are meant to support you, to take care of you. It’s not too much to ask.” 

“For most friends, it is too much to ask. I’ve learned not to overextend my friendships. A stretched rubber band will break. It’s inevitable.” 

“Friendships aren’t rubber bands. And certainly not our friendship.”

“You didn’t see us as your real friends. Why were you even friends with us?” 

“I did—I—” 

“Can I ask you something? Why does my interest in violin matter to you so much?” 

“It’s just…I just meant—” 

“Just meant what? Has college taught you to hide your meanings?” 

“Is that what college taught you?” 

“Isn’t that what college taught you?” 

“Vivi, listen to me. I’m ecstatic to see you today.” 

“But?” 

“No buts. I’m so happy to see you. I always am.” 

“I’m not, Nick.” 

“You’re not happy to see me?” 

“No, no, I’m just not…happy. My dreams came true, and I hate them.” 

“Hate them?” 

“Hate is too strong a word. It’s just that—so many friendships at these fancy schools are…transactional.” 

“So the rubber band snaps.” 

“So there wasn’t a rubber band at all, and I was just delusional. I thought it would be easier there than it was here, and now I still miss it ‘here’, even a year later. ” 

“Maybe you just had too high expectations.” 

“Was I not warranted in having them? Not warranted in believing that once I hit college, finally everything would fall into place? Instead, I’m just left with more questions.” 

“Isn’t that the point of college? The questions?” 

“You’re being evasive. Why do you care about my violin?” 

“Why do you care about the orchestra?” 

“Why are you here, Nick?” 

“Why are you here, Vivi?” 

“I’ve already told you. You’re the one being cryptic.” 

“It’s just—I was just visiting, but then I saw you duck in here, and I-I wanted to see you. I wanted to know if you ever…thought of me. At college.”

“You wanted to see me. Your high school ‘orchestra’ friend. Your un-cool friend.” 

“No, now, wait a min—”

“You know what? I’m grateful for your presence today.” 

“W-Why—”  

“Thank you for clarifying your intentions during our time together in high school. It makes me feel better to know that I was no better here than I was there. I was duped everywhere. Life is full of deceit and falsehood, and I was no better a person or student or leader here than there. And I never will be.” 

“Yes, you will!” 

“So thank you. Thank you for eliminating my worst fears in the worst way possible.” 

“I didn’t mean to! I—I’ve been trying to tell you something else.” 

“What else could you possibly have to tell me? What could you possibly even—” 

“I’m in love with you.” 

“What?” 

“And I always have been.” 

“No…” 

“Ever since you put that violin under your chin and smiled at me.” 

“Y-You put a violin under your jaw. Not your chin.” 

“Your jaw, then. But that wasn’t my point. I just want to tell you that I’m always thinking of you and your smile.” 

“My—My smile?” 

“And your jaw.” 

“That’s quite enough of that.” 

“Not the rest of the orchestra, just—just you. You and your violin. That’s how we met, you remember?”

“You know, I think I’ll just be taking my little violin and my little innocent self and all my old memories of loyal friends and busting the hell out of here.” 

“Vivi, no. Wait.” 

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore. None of it was real, was it?”

“Vivi, it was.” 

“You never wanted to be friends with us. You just saw a prize, and you wanted to go get it. You just wanted to get in my—”

“No! I wanted nothing more than your happiness. That’s still all I want.” 

“I need to get out of here.” 

“Let me just tell you something first.” 

“You’re right. I guess I was meant to be in the world of fake friendships, after all. I guess I won’t be transferring. I guess I won’t be doing…anything at all.” 

“Vivi, I want you to know that people love you, that I love you, and that you aren’t alone. But I need you to know something else.” 

“Shut up.” 

“You don’t drive away people because you’re a weird orchestra nerd. You drive them away…because you’re everywhere all at once.” 

“You know nothing about me. You’ve made that abundantly clear.” 

“You’re spread too thin, talking a mile a minute, and here it didn’t matter, because we all were overworked and awkward, but there? There, people expect you to put in the work for your relationships. You have to slow down, figure out what you want, and stick to it. You have to listen to your heart.” 

“And how’re those ‘heart noises’ working out for you?” 

 “Considering the way that you’re looking at me right now, I’d say that it could be going better.” 

“I have to go.” 

“You’re always going somewhere else.” 

“You really wanna know something? I used to have a huge crush on you in high school.” 

Really?” 

“But I’m glad to know that college at least taught me one thing.” 

“And what’s that?” 

“How to figure out the difference between a sanctimonious asshole and your average nosy athlete.”

January 14, 2021 01:18

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