I feel scraped thin. Like butter over too much bread. Not enough. Not enough at all.

There was a time I was enough. I was more than enough. As just a young child, I could play in a way that could charm snakes, stop wars, bring tears to the eyes of anyone who's ears my sweet melodies fell upon. At just nine, I had won the international young musicians award at a grade eight standard. There was no failure - my life was just success after success. Sunshine Child, my parents and grandparents would call me. It felt as though I was made of those sun rays - I could do no wrong, playing until my fingers seized up and formed hard callouses. I wore them like trophies, decorated all over my digits. My torso became hard and practised, from years of breath control, endless breaths that seemed to last forever. I recall closing my eyes under all of those spotlights, letting my fingers dance across the silver keys of my flute, allowing my final note to blend out into a beautiful Nothingness. That finishing silence was my happy place - a moment of reflection, where I knew I had done so well. The moment would be shattered by applause, bringing with it a shock of adrenaline.

My adoration for the flute gifted me with a particular sort of intelligence - maybe a kind of introspection that you rarely come across in people. I can sense a vibration in people - some work on higher ones, others in lower ones. Special people vibrate in such an ethereal way - you can smell it a mile off. They seem to glow; they are so much more alive, in such a way that it is exciting to just speak to them. Interacting them feels like a Hollywood movie scene, their presence just pleasurable to the extreme. I love to speak with those persons - I hope that to someone, I am, or at least was considered one of those glowing, magic people.

I can remember the last time I played. I was in a vast church, coldness seeping from the stone floors underneath worn, wooden pews. The pews were full of people, all of them watching me intently as I made my way across stage. I was twelve then. I looked back at my audience and saw them. I could see that most of them were simply music lovers. Some were just boyfriends, husbands, wives or children of someone else, dragged along for the company. (You can always see these men and women from the telling impression of their faces and posture). One or two sat bold upright, eyes glittering with the anticipation of musical genius. It may sound egotistical, but when you are playing for thousands of people from age eight, and every single one of them tells you that you are a prodigy of your instrument, you sort of come to accept the fact.

My footsteps echoed in the wide acoustics of the building. It was my favourite place to make some noise - things were different in that place. It seemed like magic was woven into the rafters of the church, amplifying and singing out whatever music I gave to them. It was almost haunting, the way the room could carry my woodwind tunes, echoing every vibrato, diminuendo and crescendo. I played a wonderful piece, namely an eerie Poulenc Sonata adapted to flute in memory of Coolidge. My favourite thing to play, I knew every bar like it was imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. This was my piece - every time I played it, I could feel every note singing in my blood, like it was written for me and me alone. I begun my performance, and a hush immediately ensued my audience. I had captured them, and they were mine for just a short time. I swayed with the music, manipulating my silver flute this way and that, until it felt as though it was just a natural extension of my hands. It always seemed to just melt into me, and I into it. I never had to think about anything, but rather, feel. It made me feel a lot of things. God, the countless times I've driven myself to tears over a piece of music.

The piece ended, the applause came, I shook hands and smiled and finally got into my mother's car and went home. Yes, it was a special night, but not unusual. That was my average Friday night.

I wish I had known that my life would change a few days later - I would have appreciated that night a whole lot more, had I known.

The SUV hit me at speed when I was crossing the bypass that cut through my hometown. I remember it being built, and I remember the uproar that came with it. Environmental and animal activists shouting to the council from one side, historians and safety officers shouting too. Ironically, I never saw anything wrong with the bypass being built. It took a sharp bend as it swooped into the town, and then cut straight across to the other side of it, even cutting through an old graveyard. The bodies and headstones were all moved in the process. That space is now covered in black concrete, driven over by thousands of motorists a day, never sparing a moment for those disturbed final resting places. Life goes on, I suppose, and old carcasses can't get in the way of the future. I'm lucky I wasn't another skeleton in the closet of the bypass contractors. Instead, I am simply a moving face, stuck to this immovable body of mine. I am nineteen now. I haven't played for years.

January 27, 2020 15:26

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