The Talents of Alice

Submitted into Contest #26 in response to: Write about a character who was raised in a musical family.... view prompt

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“You are a waste and a disgrace to this family, Alice!”

“Yes, a disappointment and a waste of talent!”

Alice’s mum and dad would never understand. Their youngest daughter was not interested in the grand theatre, playing for a packed house at the Albert Hall. At fifteen Alice was far more interested in the flashing lights and base beats of a rave on the beaches of Ibiza.

Like all dutiful daughters Alice had practiced her scales until they were faultless, mastered Mozart on violin and Beethoven on piano. Dux student of every grade throughout her schooling years, Alice’s parents had assumed she would go on to become a famous musician just like her older brother Tran had become and her older sister Kyomi was destined to be. Alice had other ideas though.

“As always she places those headphones on her head and the real world is forgotten,” said Alice’s mother, face screwed up in anger and frustration.

“Yes,” agreed Alice’s father. “Her mind is filled with that popular music rubbish… Where did we go wrong?”


With her headphones on, Alice’s mum and dad’s whine became a mere murmur. Floating from the condescending kitchen to the bliss of her bedroom Alice sank heart and soul into her true calling. A sample here captured from the tube ride to school and back was stirred together with the searing sadness as Alice herself put bow to string and just let the music play. A snippet from the 50s, dark and moving layered on top followed by a trickle of piano keys like a gentle spattering of a summer storm. Alice sighed, contented. For the covers over her ears were less a conduit for pop culture but a way for Alice to send herself out into that world.


For Alice’s family it was the age old rule that family was everything and tradition was everything else. Too young to have had such a stringent upbringing Alice was a silent protest against those ancient pillars. Alice loved her family but did not love their lack support. To all the neighbors, family, friends, all visitors from the homeland; each and every concert Tran Wong was playing first chair all were invited and strongly encouraged to attend. Alice’s mum and dad were always front and center, ready to applaud politely and with class. Whenever Kyomi practiced with the best teachers mum and dad could afford it was either mum or dad who came along; supposedly to praise but mostly to push and criticize.

“Again! Again!”

“Not! Good! Enough!”


Sisters talk, so growing up Alice discovered more than her parents wanted her to know. With pride the Wong parents pushed their kids to perform. Tran and Kyomi were caught in the trap, obedient and willing to let their parental figures guide their professional journey. Alice right from the start undertook a silent protest, learning the soul of music in her own time and her own way. She picked up the violin at three years old and copied her brother’s hold, style and technique. At this first sign of expected musical talent Alice’s mum booked her in for lessons with the most well renowned teachers. Once put before these masters of musical technique Alice refused to play.

“So sad and frustrating,” said her mother.

Yes, a disappointment and a waste of talent!” was father’s mantra.

Alice found her headphones and began to discover her true talent for blending together the sounds and samples of her world.


The greater Alice’s mother and father raged and roared the quieter Alice became. The more Alice’s parents tried to thrust her into the spotlight the deeper she delved into the sanctuary of her room. Amongst the bits and bytes Alice wove, built and crafted. The musician saved her sweet smile for when the soundscape played back through those headphones; Alice just loved the way each track told a different story and each story was uniquely hers to tell.


As years creep by children grow as do talents. The sound changes, evolves and recreates itself. Tran came of age and discovered his wings. Kyomi’s wings sprouted early but she kept them clipped as mum and dad preferred. Alice did not wait for her wings; she had found her own path years before. Flightless she kept her ear to the ground. The better sounds could be found there. Up amongst the clouds where Tran and Kyomi were encouraged to fly all you can hear is the wind and yourself.


Alice’s mother and father sat within their box, Kyomi’s perfect violin flowing past them, over them, through them. As the piece finished with a sweet high note care of their talented daughter the star released a sigh of utter relief. The Albert Hall erupted with a spattering of applause that grew to a polite roar. Kyomi rose from her seat and beamed as the adoration washed over her. Looking deep into the audience the violinist found the faces of those two she sought to impress the most. Her tiny heart broke as she still saw disappointment. Her best was still not good enough.


Far from that prestigious hall Alice bathed in the moon’s spotlight upon a golden beach. There were no corporate boxes, no cocktail dresses, no polite spatter of applause. Instead each perfectly entwined combination of nature and nurture, a young girl’s body, mind and soul was met with screams and squeals of delight and appreciation. This was Alice’s stage, the sand, the sigh of the sea and the breeze that took each beat, each note, and every sweet sound and sent it over the crowd. That same crowd that bounced as one and heard each beat trusting it like the friend it was. Amongst the hundred strong that churned up the beach was Tran. He sat at the helm of a Steinway and Sons Baby Grand, his skill upon the ebony and ivory accompanying his sister’s beats. With or without her brother there Alice realized that this was family. These were her people. This was her sound. These were the talents of Alice.

January 31, 2020 11:06

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1 comment

Tim Law
11:43 Feb 06, 2020

This story just seemed to tell itself. This family popped into my head, a tough up bringing for the three; each for their own reasons.


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