Thursday, 31 July 2014

Warm

By Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

His hands lightly touched the piano keys, handling each in a deft swift manner, as if searching for the right code to end the piece with a flourish. I watched as Gerard tested each note almost carelessly compared to how I played: with great caution, deathly afraid of setting off the bomb to terminate all attempts at reaching the end of a piece.
I clenched my fists over my knees.
Finally, the final flourish sounded and all around me was the applause of those relieved and ecstatic at the cracking of such a challenging code as Chopin. My fists remained clenched, feet tapping for the door.
"Vincent," a voice hissed in my ear. "Go on. Congratulate him."
Reluctantly, I stood up, gingerly picking up the bouquet of roses at my feet, and made my way to the front of the room. The crowd hushed with my approach as I took a place next to Gerard, who looked up expectantly from his bow.
"A ravishing performance by Gerard Duchaine ladies and gentlemen, wonderful performance!"
The crowd erupted into applause again. I swallowed bile.
"How is it Gerard," my mouth moved of its own will, acting the role many said I was far more suited for, "that you play so well, many ask?" My hands gestured with the bouquet.
Gerard graciously took it from me and answered, "Many before me have said that practice and dedication does the trick but there is always instinct, I always say."
"Ah," I nodded. "Well there you have it! Gerard Duchaine, ladies and gentlemen!"
Standing ovations this time. Ignoring the sea surging to meet the golden boy, I went for the doors and pushed them open. A gust of wind greeted my burning insides, roiling with that boy's smug expression.
"There is always instinct, I always say." I mimicked, my eyebrows slightly raised, mouth quirked on a disgusted half-smirk.
"You are quite the comedian, Vincent," a girl giggled. Jumping, my eyes met hers and quickly looked away, hiding my embarrassed blush.
"Go away, Karen," I shooed. "Or at least go inside. The Duke Duchaine is running short of admirers."
"Surely you do not think I'm that type of girl?" Karen raised an eyebrow. There was something pretty about that eyebrow, the way it stretches her petite face just so and adds a gleam to those coal eyes, something infuriating.
"No," I laughed bitterly, paying half a mind to her words. "I do not have the instinct to do anything correctly, according to everyone."
"Says who?"
"Everyone!" The little idiot. It was obvious her mind was on Gerard.
Karen paused to take a breath. Even that motion worked to liven her, bring a lovely blush to her cheeks as her long eyelashes fluttered.
"Vincent, you are the only one who thinks so."
I blinked. "What?"
The wind gusted again and this time, Karen rubbed her shoulders. They were bare. The little idiot, I thought. My tongue clicked disapprovingly as I quickly took off my jacket and wrapped her arms with it before she could protest.
"You heard me," Karen's voice shook slightly as her eyes met mine squarely. My hands paused at her shoulders, holding the jacket in place as those eyes bore into my soul.
"You are not Gerard and yet you think you must compare yourself to him. Your obsession with him, it's disgusting! You are Vincent and Vincent has his own talents. Vincent is not some jealous idiot!"
My eyes widened, my hands freezing over her shoulders for a long moment. Slowly, my hands slid off my jacket, tugging loosely on its ends to absently make sure Karen is well-covered.
"I'm sorry Karen," I said softly, "for thinking that you were the idiot."
This girl smiled and slid her arm in the crook of my own. "I'm glad to see that the cold has cooled your head."
My chest clenched and clarity stung like a needle.
The little idiot, I thought, forgetting to repent, doesn't realize that her flames have warmed my heart.

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