tagIncest/TabooHeart Strings

Heart Strings


"Yous from around here?" I hear the cabby ask me. His accent clearly shows he isn't.

"Yea. I went to that school we just past" I tell him looking over my shoulder at the massive brick and stone building. Sitting in the middle of a large sea of grass it still looks like a prison.

"Is a good to be home aye? You been gone a long time?" he asks as we turn the corner and head up the street where I grew up.

I watch the familiar houses go past with a terrible feeling of the surreal settling about me.

"A lifetime ago." I tell him softly.

I listen to his idle chatter and make the appropriate noises to keep him happy for the next few seconds till we pull up in front of the house.

Four white columns across the front, the American flag hanging limp from the one on the end. My eyes go to the dark window in the upper corner. The one I spent so many days looking out dreaming of the places I have been to now.

Reaching into my pocket I hand him his fare plus a tip. I open the door and slide out pulling my duffel bag out with me.

"Yous enjoy your homecoming." He tells me through the open passenger window. I nod to him as he pulls away. His stereo cranks up by the time he's at the end of the street.

I look down at the mossy black cap of 'Short and Horny' the lawn jockey. I grin when the name comes to mind. I haven thought of him in a half-decade, or more but from the looks of things he hasn't changed a bit. My grin turns into a sad smile when I remember grandpa's expression when he came out to leave for work one morning and found me sitting beside 'Short and Horny' with a box of crayons coloring him. I had him every color in the box. I can still make out a little red in his jacket, under the moss.

Grandpa had put down his brief case and sat down in his suit and picked up the blue crayon and started coloring the cap. I remember laughing with him when I handed him the lighter blue for the brim.

I wipe a slow tear from my eye and walk past the statuary. The blue color, like grandpa, but a faded memory under the moss.

It feels strange to lift my hand and push the doorbell, but my key to this house was lost with a bag in Rwanda three years ago.

I hear someone approach the door and the locks being turned.

"Yes can I help you?"

I look at my Mom. Her hair is shorter than I remember it and the amount of gray has doubled. She has her glasses on, So I see her brown eyes through the thick lenses. I see she has still never taken the time to go get the surgery to have her sight fixed. My eyes drop to the turquoise blue evening dress she 's wearing with the white string of pearls worn close to her throat.

"YOUNG MAN!" she says loudly to draw my eyes back up from her feet. "Can I help you with something?"

I slowly smile.

"Yea Mom you can." I tell her softly.

Her eyes dart around my face, as they grow wider.

"David? Oh my god David!"

My mom is in my arms; I drop the duffel bag to the floor and wrap her up tight next to me. The half-forgotten smell of her perfume triggers a flood of memories and a dam of tears breaks under that floor. Crying silently I hold my Mom tight to me.

I look up hearing my Dad coming into the room. He is dress in his tux with the tie still around his neck undone.

"Vicky?" he asks softly looking at his wife hugging a man at the door and both of them are crying.

I look over Moms head at his face. His goatee beard is pepper gray and the old tux looks a little tight around him but other than that he looks the same.

"Hey Dad." I whisper. "I'm home can I borrow the car?"

My dad's eyes lock on mine. I see him cross the living room in less than a second. I feel his arms come around me with the strength I envied as a teen.

"Eeek" I hear Mom squeak between us.

Laughing I hug her all the tighter.

I wish the group hug could continue forever but finally it has to come to an end. Mom reaches up and wipes the tears from my face. Then her eyes go wide.

"Oh my god my makeup!" she rushes out the room in the direction of the bathroom. Dad chuckles. He sticks out his hand to me and I take it. His grip is firm but I know mine is the harder now.

"My God David your what? A hundred pounds lighter?" he asks looking me up and down. "Hell I don't think I looked that good when I played for Penn State."

I look down at myself, and give a shrug. I sometimes have a hard time remember it, the changes that have come to me over the last five years.

"The meals can be few and infrequent sometimes." I look up and shrug. "The toughest job you'll ever love and all that."

Dad nod understanding. That was always dad. He didn't like my choices but he at least understood them.

We both look to the hall hearing mom's heels clicking on the floor like a woodpecker.

"Oh thank god I hadn't put on my mascara yet." My mom says coming back in to the room. She's hanging a pair of pearl earrings from her ears as she's entering. "David why didn't you call and let us know you were coming?"

"I made the decision twelve hours ago at the airport. Just decided it was time." I look from her to dad and back. "I only had about two more months I could serve then I would have done the full five years and have to leave. I just couldn't face the idea of meeting a group of people and having to leave them so soon."

"Is..." I see Mom hesitate for half a second. "Tina still over there, or is she here?"

I swallow past the hard lump I knew was going to appear.

"Tina got real sick four months ago. She passed in her sleep." I say softly.

I see my Mom's face just fall apart. She's back in my arms again. This time I have no tears. I cried my tears for Tina out months ago. Her memory is a cold ache in my heart. A place I can not fill.

"I am so sorry David." I hear my Dad say softly. For once where Tina is concerned I believe him.

Mom looks up at me her face a red blotchy mess.

"Oh David, I feel so bad now. I am... Oh I am..."

"I know Mom it's okay. Past is past." I brush away a tear from her cheek. "Your face is a mess again."

"Oh dear lord!" she rushes off toward the bathroom again her dress a flutter.

I grin at her back. I turn to look at Dad and really take in the tux he's wearing.

"Yall going out tonight I take it?" I ask him smiling. "Where is Kat? She and I can catch up till you two get back."

I stifle a yawn.

"That's if I don't fall asleep." I tell him covering my mouth to hide the next yawn.

"Katrina is at the civic center." He tells me. He turns towards the mirror by the hall and start to work tying his bow tie. "She's playing there tonight at the amphitheater."

"What?" I ask confused "Playing?"

"Yes playing."

Mom comes striding back in her makeup again perfect. I see she's added her mascara. She must be of the opinion she's over crying. Either that, or judging from the bustle she's in figures that she just doesn't have the time. "If our eldest child would contact us more than once in three years he would know about his little sister."

I give a shrug.

"Some of the places I've been don't have very dependable mail services. Plus I'll get to working and turn a round twice and it the next spring. Tina kept at me to call or write. I always said I would do it the next day then I would get started on something and it would be four months later and we were getting on a plane to go somewhere else."

Dad seems to accept that.

Mom knows it to be a partial lie. I can see it in her face.

"Well your little sister is playing with the city orchestra tonight at the amphitheater." Mom tells me as she takes Dads tie issue in hand. "Her high school music teacher set it up. She even has a solo!"

I stand stunned for a second.

"Playing what?" I ask.

Mom looks at me like I should be a mind reader.

"The cello." She says giving dad's tie a pat. "Your good."

"Kats playing the cello?"

"Yes. For four years now! I told you that the last time I talked to you." Some of her customary exasperation with me slips back into her voice.

I chuckle.

"Mom last time I talked to you I was in a train station in Jakarta. The place was a mad house, I was doing good to hear one word in three." I stifle a yawn. "So she's playing the cello? I always said she had some music talent. I remember her playing chopsticks with grandpa."

Mom stops and a strange look crosses her face. Dad see it and he must be a better mind reader than I am...or more awake.

"Not a thing in his closet will fit him." He tells her shaking his head.

Mom nods.

"How about the blazer and slacks you wore to Daddy's funeral?"

Dad looks me up and down as I feel a queasy feeling building in my gut.

"It might." Dad says nodding. "I wasn't that broad in the shoulders so it might be a little lose in the waist and tight across the chest but... yea."

I eye the two of them like they have suddenly started talking Swahili. No that would be better I know a few dozen words in Swahili.

"We have the time if he hurries." Mom nods and off Dad goes like a bee has stung him. "David run up stairs and get you a quick shower. Your Dads going to go get you something to wear."

"Where am I going?" I ask befuddled. Then it hits me. "Mom I just spent ten hours on a plane. As much as I would love to go see Kat play I'm going to fall asleep standing up soon."

"You can nap on the way over in the car." She tells me. I recognize her feet planted in concrete attitude but I do my best any way.

"Mom I listen to classical music to go to sleep at night. I will pass out before the first set is finished." I have to fight back another yawn.

"I'll wake you for your sisters solo if I have too. Now go jump in the shower, we are already running late"

I head upstairs yawning hopping I don't drown in the shower.

I swear I'm still shaving when we get in the car.

The ride over is a total blank. I just remember waking when mom touches my arm and we are sitting it the parking lot of the civic center.

Dad shows some sort of pass to the security and we are led past the long line to get inside. An usher takes us through and into the long sloping hall. I can see the stage with the collection of large instruments already in place. The seats are empty. The hall fills quickly behind us as we are led down to the third row and to the right.

"How did you get me a ticket?" I ask dad as we are seated.

"The pass was for family up to four people." He tells me as he helps mom into her seat.

The seats around us fill in quickly. I listen to the chatter of people talking in english. It sounds so very different from what I have been hearing for so many years that it puts me a little on edge. That plus the growing anticipation of seeing Kat play before so many people has me finally awake.

As the musicians take the stage I look through them till I see her. She chats with another cellist as they take their seats. I see her find Mom and Dad next to me, but her eyes never focus on me.

I smile when the music begins. Old memories of coming here with Grandpa and Granna when I was a kid. The city orchestra plays mostly things that people will know who have no true knowledge of symphonic music. A lot of movie themes. I remember with a smile the first time I head them play the 'Imperial march' by John Williams.

Tonight they start with 'Requiem for a dream'. I watch with a smile as Kat's cello leads out the song.

Over the next hour I don't think my eyes leave Kat once. It's like I'm seeing her for the first time as a person and not just my kid sister.

When she plays she sways with the sound of the music. It looks almost like she is slow dancing with her cello at one point. I smile when I realize she has closed her eyes and isn't even aware there is a crowd watching her she is so into the music.

After a short intermission they bring a chair to the front and Kat walks out with Mr. Tims. I grin seeing my old music teacher again. He still looks like Gene Wilder's stunt double from Young Frankenstein. His hair is a wild halo around his head. Only his smiling face makes him not look like a mad scientist.

" I would like to thank all of you lovers of music who have come here tonight." He says then lifts a hand to the maestro "I would also like to thank Simon Davis our wonderful conductor for tonight giving me the time to show the talent in one of the best musicians I have had the pleasure to teach in many generations." He looks back over his shoulder. "You're still playing a little flat Ronald."

One of the violinist chuckles and nods, the crowd laughs with him.

Mr. Tims smiles and looks back at the audience. I see his fingers tighten on Kats hand.

"In all seriousness though, this young lady Miss Katrina Marshal is going to be ...in my opinion at least," he says with a smile "one of the names that we in the music community will be hearing a lot of in the years to come."

He smiles at Katrina, she looks down blushing.

"She's a good bit more nervous than she looks so I wont ask her to speak, I'll let her talent speak for her. Playing Dvorak's Cello Concerto... miss Katrina Marshal."

I join with a few others in standing to applaud her. She blushes and settles herself into the chair in the front. I watch her face settle into a serious look.

"Her dress is too short." I hear my Mom whisper to Dad next to me just as Kat starts to play.

My eyes drop to Katrina's bare legs wrapped around the back of the cello. I hide a grin from mom when I notice that I can see a long way up Kat's inner thigh.

Then she starts to play.

In seconds I find myself lost in the look on her face. She has the look of one awash in the throws of pleasure. I see her drifting with the sounds of the music she is playing. I see her breathing quicken as she sways with the bow driving the sound from her cello by force of talent and will.

I'm in awed at the beauty of her.

Of her music, I think quickly to myself.

No...of her.

I look at my younger sister then really look. I see the changes that the last five years have brought to her. The filling out of her body. The curves and hips as Tina use to say. A slow sad tear for my wife falls from my eyes as the music manages to find one more that I didn't know I still had.

Katrina's long brown hair sways from side to side behind her as she plays like it's dancing to her music. I find myself looking her over. From the tips of her little black shoes up her pale legs, to those white thighs that hide teasingly behind the wooden body of her cello. But my eyes are drawn to her face. That look of ecstatic pleasure as she plays. It not only ecstatic it's nearly erotic. I'm surprised when feel a slight stirring of myself.

I close my eyes and drift with her through the sounds. I 'listen' to her playing. Mr. Tims' had taught me to play a flute but that didn't mean I couldn't tell when a string instrument was being played well.

She was playing flawlessly.

All too soon the song ends and the audience comes to their feet giving her a loud ovation. She stands up; I can see the nerves have returned. She gives a slight bow, her face alive with a smile that goes from ear to ear.

Dad's thunderous clapping next to me is at least an octave above the rest. I see Katrina's eyes go to mom and dad. Dad in a true show of his football roots brings his fingers to his teeth and gives a piercing whistle.

Katrina bows to Mom and Dad. When she stands up her eyes finally drift over to me. She looks at me for a second with that I know you from somewhere look on her face. Then I see her eyes start to widen, as my grin slowly splits my face. Her jaw drops and I see tears spring to her eyes.

I blow her a kiss as I see her recognition of me.

Clearly stunned I see her turn to go back to her seat and my grin widens when I see the orchestra stands and gives her an ovation. The audience behind her redoubles their efforts as well.

I watch my sister return to her seat overwhelmed. The violinist next to her hands her a tissue that she dab under her eyes with.

For the rest of the performance whenever I look at her, which is often, Katrina's eyes are on me.

She never once misses her mark; not one note that I can hear is played wrong. Her eyes will close a second before her time and then she plays with a passion that is beautiful to behold. Then her eyes open and focus on my face.

She is so lost in her music several times the looks she gives me would not be out of place on the face of a lover.

Lost in the beauty of her and her playing I know my own eyes are saying similar things back to her.

After two hours and a several long intermissions the crowd stands to applaud the performance and the musician move to the front of the stage and take a long bow. The maestro moves over to Katrina and leaning in kisses her cheek. I can tell he's whispering something to her. She smiles and nods. I see her say thank you.

The crowd beings to depart up the stairs. I watch Kat being told congratulations by the other musicians. I see the players take up their instruments and head off stage. I follow Mom and Dad around the side of the stage and I smile when I see Mr. Tims coming forward with Katrina by his side. He goes to say something to my dad but is interrupted when Kat launches herself from his side and into my arms.

My sister, no little flower, crashes into me with enough force to make me stagger back. Laughing I catch us and wrap her into my arms.

"Oh my god David!" I hear her crying into my shoulder.

I feel her tighten her arms around me like she is never going to let go. I vaguely hear Mr. Tims laughing with Mom and Dad.

"You were so beautiful sis. You played incredibly." I tell her whispering into her hair.

I feel her lips kiss the side of my neck.

"Thank you " I hear whispered under my ear.


I look over my sister shoulder at Mr. Tims. Smiling I nod.

"Well I'll be. I had given you up as eaten by lions."

Kat turns me lose with one arm and tucks herself up under my arm. I smile down at her face.

"Nope no lions. I did have an elephant knock me down with its trunk once." I feel Katrina's hand curl into my side holding me tighter. " We were helping build a wall at a small village in India and the elephant took exception to how close I was."

"India! Oh my lord I have always wanted to go there. I want to listen to the music at the Fireflies Festival." His face positively glows.

"I missed that I'm afraid. We were only there for a month and a half helping out another group. I did get to do a little sight seeing one afternoon. It's a beautiful place."

"I would love to go." He sighs. "Well if you will all excuse me I have a million things I'm suppose to be doing." He shakes dad's hand. When he goes to offer his to me I am still kind of wrapped around Katrina. I grins "You were absolutely wonderful tonight my dear. I am so going to embarrass you Monday at school."

I chuckle when I see Kat blush.

"Well hun that was absolutely the proudest I have ever been of any of my children." I hear mom say then watch the look of horror cross her face. "Oh god David I didn't mean that like it sounded. I meant..."

"It's okay Mom I took it the way you meant it." I tell her meeting her eyes. She looks away.

Dad harumps. He's good at harumps.

"Well kitten are you done amazing the local society page readers?" he asks Katrina. Mom pops his arm with her fingers.

Kat smiles.

"Yea I'm good and done. Let me get my cello, and I'm ready to go."

"Oh dear." I see the look on Mom's face. I realize why at that same moment.

Four people and a cello in a car. No one breathe till we get home.

"I didn't even think about how we would get everyone back home." She says shaking her head.

"We'll manage." Says Katrina snuggling up to my arm. I'm given a quick hug then she hurries up the stage. A young man in a shirt that says 'Staff' brings her the tall black case. I see her thank him twice. I guess he complimented her playing.

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