This week’s Friday Fiction challenge: The one thing your character regrets learning the most is……
Five minutes had gone by and Farnum hadn’t turned a single page. He just sat on the sofa, his frozen hand clutching the corner of the page, Ansa’s frail-green eyes staring back at him.
The photo had been taken on their first date. They’d met just two days earlier. Never one for prevaricating, he’d taken less than five minutes to obtain the date. What did surprise him was that he’d not noticed her before. Their paths must have crossed on several occasions. Only last week he had attended her class audition. He began to wonder whether Cupid really did exist: a kind of spiritual William Tell firing off love apples at will. If caught, you fell, resistance impossible.
The speed with which their relationship developed, gave some credence to this theory. In truth, his noticing her probably had more to do with the page-boy hair cut her stylist had given her the day before.
“Sets off your face summat beautiful, darling. No one can resist those eyes, now.”
The film in Farnum’s mind rolled on, though his hands didn’t budge. He didn’t have to turn the page, he knew what came next. She’d come to his laudatory concert the next day. They’d dined together afterwards and Farnum invited her back to his flat. Her refusal took him by surprise. But he said nothing. She’d knocked at his door at six the next morning. She needed to explain. In Japan things were different.
So they married. At first, life together had been hard, cooped up in his little room, hurtling against cultural boundaries at every step. They spent most of the time at the university playing together, planning their escape.
Their plan was to tour, travel the world and take their music with them: a self-styled blend of classical and jazz with more than a hint of the exotic provided by some traditional Japanese melodies. It was a big hit. Requests to tour came rolling in. They began to travel first class, stay at the best hotels. It was like one big, long honeymoon.
Only now, did Farnum stir again. He turned the pages until he came to the photos of Japan. Yes, even there they’d been a success; the green flyer bore witness to it. Green? He stared down at it again. It was there that things had started to come apart. Green was envy’s standard-bearer. The flyer, her name standing out boldly; the photos, taken at such an angle as to maximise her stage presence, and reduce his in the process; the interview in which she’d revealed his secret:
“You know, Farnum never really wanted to become a violin player. His dream instrument was the double bass.”
He’d only understood what was going on when the interviewer had a double bass brought into the studio and stood him up against it. The hilarity. The humility.
When she started to take solo offers, he knew it was time to act. He contacted an agent. Made concert appearances of his own. The critics loved him. But the public was under her spell. Much like he had always been. Much like he still was.
For their second anniversary, he suggested they do a concert together. It had been over a year since their last. To his surprise she accepted.
“And I want to play something very special at the end, just for you.”
Farnum could still hear her say it as he sat on the sofa, hands trembling. She was going to the play the Beethoven romance. She was going to play it for him, to celebrate their love. His tears were flowing freely now, much as they had done a few hours earlier. How could she have taken him in like that? Was he forever destined to relive that moment when she went to the front of the stage announcing:
“And now I’m going to play a piece by a composer my husband has helped me to appreciate and to love: ‘Bohemian Rhapsodies’ by Sarasate.”
A gasp from the audience. Even they understood the significance of what was about to happen. Her playing brought the house down. And as if stealing his thunder wasn’t enough, she played the Beethoven Romance as an encore, thanking her agent for all the help and support he’d provided. Afterwards she’d whisked him off for a cosy little tête à tête who knows where.
He’d waited up. She seemed tired when she finally did make it home. She accepted the glass of sherry without a word. Not even when the room started to spin around her, did she suspect anything. She fell into his waiting arms. He laid her out on her bed, bending over to kiss her on the lips. Taking his own glass of sherry he wandered through into the salon, picked up the album and sat down on the sofa. That was how they found them both the next day. The only clue as to what had happened being the note pinned to her dress:
“I regret ever having taken up the violin.”