Beethoven's Tenth Symphony

Submitted into Contest #16 in response to: Write a rags-to-riches story.... view prompt



Beethoven’s tenth symphony rang through the choir hall. It was previously undiscovered. Hidden by the lapping waves of history. Nine glorious symphonies were praised for almost two centuries while the tenth one waited, in a birch box, written in careful calligraphy.

I stroked the keys of my instrument with the same gentle love born of soulmates. My lips silently moved, mouthing the notes’ letters as I continued.

Then, the symphony was over. The last note echoed through the concert hall with a lasting promise that this symphony was too beautiful to be forgotten. I relaxed my fingers. I took in a shaky breath and stared up at the dome ceiling. I was too beautiful to be forgotten.

I was in Carnegie Hall, performing private concert for several hundred of the richest pampered people in the world. The I-can-buy-three-private-islands-on-a-whim-but-will-only- donate-enough-money-to-get-the-media-off-my-back-for-hording-wealth kind of rich. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate these kind of people. In fact, I was in the midst of becoming one of them.

It all began when I was eighteen. My historian father—the only family I’ve ever had, was gone. Only left me worthless junk. I had nothing, I was nothing. My only skills were looking pretty, playing the piano, and lusting for more.

I wanted more. I craved more. I needed more. More than a life on the curb of New York City. More than some street urchin no one gave a damn about. So I utilized the skills I had.

Being pretty got me far. It got me a cheap apartment and all the free drinks I could want, but it didn’t get me enough. I wanted more.

So, I turned to the piano. I couldn’t afford an actual piano, so I rented a cheap practicing studio on weekends when I wasn’t working as a waitress.

Saying I just ‘improved with practice’ would be a cliche and underselling it. No, I became a pianist goddess. Unfortunately, no one seemed to get that. On numerous occasions, I tried to book gigs, to get discovered, but they always went with someone more accomplished.

It’s like they don’t get that you have to let artists into circulation or they’ll run dry and tired of Linda McCoy—the famous pianist everyone, minus me, loved. She was the Marilyn Monroe of music. Sometimes, you just have to take fate into your own hands and make them realize what they truly want.

Success is all about one thing: opportunity. If you couldn’t find it, create it. I created mine one in what was probably the dumbest way possible.

It was a Saturday afternoon and I was in my living room with a big pile of bills on my coffee table. My hair was frizzed from stress and I had chewed my pencil’s eraser down to the nub. I raked my hands through my hair as I tried to figure out a way to pay these dreaded things off. Sighing, I leaned back. I could always sell some of my stuff, I told myself.

Looking around, I quickly decided against that and thought of a new idea. I retrieved all of my dad’s old things from my closet. A couple of textbooks. A fake fossil he got from a museum's gift shop. A plain birch box with a lock.

I was never sure why the box was locked. It was practically weightless and never made any noise when I shook it, meaning it was probably empty. I fiddled with the lock between my fingers.

But what if it wasn’t?

Using a bobby pin from my hair, I jammed it into the lock and forced it open. Inside was a roll of parchment paper that turned out to be Beethoven’s tenth symphony. At first, I thought it was a joke from dad. I mean come on! A tenth symphony, ha! How could one of his symphonies possibly remain secret since the nineteenth century. It just wasn’t possible.

At least, that’s what I thought until I decided to play it the next day at the rented studio. Then, I discovered why it had been kept clandestine for so long.

I decided to bring the symphony out of the closet. The only problem was, I needed a place to perform. I was right back where I started. I became convinced that they would love me and the symphony if they just heard us play together. Two beautiful, hidden, things kept out of the spotlight for so long. We deserved our chance. I just needed to create it.

Over the next week, word spread that Linda MCoy was going to be performing at Carnegie Hall. I had to bite into a carrot just to keep from grinding my teeth out of anger. Then it hit me. This was my opportunity. Which leads us back to today.

Gradually, one after another, the audience stood up, each fiercely clapping out their newfound love of my music. Of my talents. Roses. Water lilies. Tulips. Flowers of every kind were tossed on stage as the praise poured on. I slowly stood, bowed, then exited stage left. The applause continued long after I left.

Backstage, I began to pack up my sheet music, delicately folding the ancient, original parchment. “Linda.” The music director called out.

I didn’t bother to face him. “That was amazing.” He praised. “You simply must come back soon.”

“We’ll see.” I replied with just a hint of a smirk. “But, call me Sonia Rivers. Linda is a just a stage name.”

A bald faced lie. Linda was supposed to play here that night, I just took her spot without telling anyone. What I did to prevent the actual Linda from showing up isn’t important.

This is good. I thought to myself. He didn’t seem to realize that I wasn’t the pianist who was supposed to play tonight. Not bad for my first live performance.

“Oh, but where did you get that symphony from? It was simply breath-taking.”

“That’s because I was the one who was playing.” I winked and headed out.

Word quickly spread of my performance. Calls from famous concert halls all over the country began to beg for my to play. I was careful to handle them properly. Only accepting the most  prestigious positions. Make them want it even more.

Each time I performed it was Beethoven’s tenth symphony. Everyone loved it.

We have never heard anything like it, they said.

The notes are clear and defined, they said.

It’s a harmony I will never forget, they said.

After every show, I would smile. A smile only for myself and the secrets she kept. The secrets about Beethoven’s tenth symphony.

I was practically hypnotized by the song, they said.

Fame and fortune were practically handed to me and I took them eagerly. Not a month ago I struggled to get a single gig. Who knew all I had to do was pose as an already established pianist?

Late one night, I was practicing the tenth symphony when I had to stop playing in the middle of it. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“Don’t be entranced.” I told myself. “Keep a level head.”

Hearing the symphony so many times was starting to take a toll on me. “Don’t be entranced.” I breathed.

You see, there was a secret about Beethoven’s tenth symphony. The reason why it was locked in a birch box and hidden for almost two centuries. It has a strange affect on all who listened to it. They would be hypnotized, entranced by it. They would love it and nothing more in this world.

And thus, they would love me.

November 22, 2019 23:01

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