by Roland King
A lucky moment in the spotlight (written for Fall Rising Stars)
|Susannah was excited to attend the night’s performance. After nearly touring for all of 1919, Sergei Rachmaninov’s tour was coming to a close. Here at this final show of the season, by the very grace of some divine hand, Susannah had managed to acquire tickets to see him in concert. Schooled in the classics and a master of piano in her own right, she had studied Rachmaninov fervently for many of her childhood years. Playing his music was not playing notes upon an instrument, it was letting the vibrations of nature’s melodies flow through her own soul, through the bones of her fingers, and into the ivory of the stately piano she spent over a decade practicing upon.
Tonight, her light ebony skin flushed with excitement as she hurried to the music hall. Cursory glances were made at her fine dress that she had borrowed from a friend. She drew gazes from some by her beauty and drew gazes from others by the color of her skin in such a whitewashed crowd. She paid the latter no mind at all and held her head high.
Ushered into the hall, she mingled for only a moment and then found a quiet corner. She trembled with anticipation as the showtime grew closer. Desperate to find a powder room before the show, she traveled down a quiet hall that seemed empty of any attendees. She quickly felt as though she was becoming lost, but forged on, sure that if she was trespassing somewhere she would soon be stopped and pointed in the right direction.
She soon spotted a man in a doorway off the hall and said “Sir? Can you kindly point me in the direction of the ladies’ room? I need to freshen up before the concert begins. Sir? Hello, how are you?”
“Not good I am afraid,” said the shadowed man in a heavy Russian accent.
Susannah gasped as she recognized the face that looked up at her from the shadows. It was Rachmaninov himself. “What is wrong?”
“My hands,” he replied, flexing the fingers slowly. Susannah could hear the audible crack of one of his knuckles. “They are not fit to play the piano tonight.”
“But you must play the piano! This is your last concert! So many people have come to hear you including me! I have played your work for decades and dreamed of the day I could hear you in person.”
He studied her for a moment. “Years you say? What is your name?”
“Susannah,” she said with a curtsy.
“Come with me,” he said. He led her through a string of halls and finally stopped at a door. “This concert is to be special. There is no spotlight. I wish the audience to hear this concert without the image of me in their mind, only the music. You, Susannah, if you know my music so well, shall play instead.”
And so Susannah walked across the stage in darkness to the piano, drew a breath, and played.
Word Count: 500