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The Last Visit
A story about a young girl's last minutes with her dying piano teacher.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (2)
A Little Piece Of Me (Short Stories) Discovery of the Soul. [486 words]
Melted In The Winter (Songs) A sad song about a dead love. [168 words]
The Last Visit
It is sad for me as I walk down the busy streets of Bordeaux passing noise and colour. It strikes me how insignificant these people's lives are to me and how mine is to them. I find a small French cafe and buy myself a drink of hot chocolate and a baugette for lunch. The hot chocolate scalds my throat, blisters my mouth and squeezes my stomach like a boa constrictor but the warmth and sugar in it remind me I am alive. I feel some energy flowing back into my limbs.
As for the baugette, well it is too much to eat. The bread is too dry and scratches over my tongue until I have to spit it out. A Parisian couple mistake me for a tourist and slyly mock me in their fast, French chatter. I know I must stand out, my clothes are of rough fabric and yet they are the best I have ever owned. How I do admire the sophisticated French mademoiselles in their silks and velvets.
I remember Monsieour Dupent and jump up from my seat, consequentially spilling the last of my hot chocolate over my skirt. The Parisian couple snigger at me and I feel my face blush pink. I scatter a handful of francs on the table and hurry out in to the cool, unjudging air. It is early morning and the sun has not yet risen properly but I can tell it will be a beautiful, hot day. It does not seem fair that on this horrible occasion the sun should choose to shine. I look at it sourly and the clouds reveal it further as if to humour me. I laugh inspite of myself.
Walking through Bordeaux always terrifies me and today is no exception. I keep my eyes firmly on my feet, forcing them forward. I don't bother to look at the gorgeous universities because even they seem to look down on me. I am but a little half-Scottish French country girl feeling an utter fool in a regal robe of scratchy cotton. What a little contradiction I am, so pitiful and yet so strong, at least I must be strong, for the Dupents. Oh the poor Dupents.
As if walking in a daze I find myself on the train. A stout conductor eyes me with feigned interest. His eyes are stony behind moon glasses, he is utterly professional and inhuman, like a robot. Somehow he makes me sad.
"Tickeet, laydee?" His English is halting and terribly pronounced. He does not realise I am part French.
"Oui, eh voila." I say, completely straight-faced in a perfect polished accent handing him the ticket.
"Pardon, mademoiselle." The conductor says and for just a second, the stony exterior crumbles and his eyes twinkle and his lips turn up as if in a half smile. The moment passes and the conductor moves on, leaving me alone in my thoughts. I am isolated through my own knowledge, my own chosen acceptance of the harsh reality of life. How I wish for the ignorance of those around me and yet I do not have it.
I'm tired as I step of the train, weary from this journey of self-discovery I am supposed to have embarked on. I must walk miles to reach the tiny village, the village I was born in, although I often forget this. The sun is beating down as if to spite me, it's bright golden light burning my eyes. My feet in their flimsy cotton trainers - the only things I brought from Scotland, threaten to break under the pressure of the walk. Little beads of sweat force themselves across my forehead, the Madames and Mademoiselles in Bordeaux don't 'sweat' they 'perspire'. I'm sweating so much that I can feel my hair sticking to my neck. The minature basket I carry in one hand suddenly seems to be made of lead straining at my thin shoulders until I want to scream in pain. My stomach rumbles and growls begging to be fed. I ignore it, I ignore all of it and keep walking.
I arrive in the village just in time, my legs surrendering themselves to collapse. I rest only for a moment before breaking into a run to the Dupent's farm. The farm has fallen into disrepair since I have been here last. I spot Garcon, an old caramel-coloured horse with his head sticking obstinately out the stable. I give him a little pet and he neighs in happiness and recognition - could this really be the pony I rode as a wee girl, a petite fille? Must be.
"Ah, Megan LeClair, welcome, welcome." Madame Dupent says in French of course.
"Hello Madame. How are you?" I speak French too, Madame does not like to be reminded that I am not fully French. She chatters quietly but sadly as we enter the house. I spot the grand piano, still as beautiful as ever in polished ebony, I remember a blonde-haired tyke of four running tiny fingers up the keys and smile. Monsieur Dupent is in the last room at the end of the corridor. I barely recognise him, his pale face almost matches the starched sheets below him in colour, his face is just a mass of wrinkles like a Spider's Web weaving themselves around bloodshot brown eyes. His body is almost unidentifiable, his flesh wasted away to bone and yet it is the hands which sadden me most. The same hands which once graced the keys of the grand piano downstairs, the curvatures of his fingers stroking every note, the music flowing from his heart and soul into his fingers and out into the world. These same glorious fingers have wasted down to brittle stumps which do not even look capable of bending let alone playing. I hold back a sob for the demon of disease which has destroyed his hands.
"I am so sorry Monsieur." I say, almost in prayer.
"Do not be Megan, I know what you have come here to tell me and it pleases me very much."
"I have an audition, to the French Music School." I say, as it he expects me to.
"Of course you do. Always knew you would. First and finest pupil I ever had."
"I can not do it without you Monsieur!" I beg him, wanting him to stay in our world.
"And you shall not." Monsieur insists but at this very instant his eyes freeze and we realise he is dead.
I do not even cry for him as the shock is so over-whelming. Before I know where I am, I am sitting in front of a piano in my audition for the music school. Panic flows through every vein in my body, adrenalin pounding in my ears. I gasp and realise I can not play, can not even remember the notes. A kind woman addresses me in French, asks me to begin when I'm ready but I will never be ready, never be ready to be part of this insecure world.
Before I can run from the room I see a figure standing in front of me. It is not a solid figure but not a ghost either. A memory perhaps, of a happier time. Monsieur Dupent in his hat and coat eyes me suspiciously.
"You better not back out now Megan. You were born to do this." I was never any good at saying no to Monsieur Dupent. My fingers begin to play and I forget Monsieur Dupent, though only momentarily, I forget the audition, I forget everything except the music. I am the music, it flows through my blood like oxygen. I look at my fingers and they seem to be flying, the tips barely touching the keys and yet somehow playing the appropriate notes. I do not even know what I am playing for it is not the piece I have rehearsed every day for an hour for the past two years. This piece is completely unknown. It flies like a bird from my fingers and in the music I hear the pain and grief of Monsieur Dupent's passing, the joy and appreciation of the music. When I finish, Monsieur Dupent winks and vanishes.
"Megan LeClair, I think I can say with complete certainty we will see you at the Music School in August."
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"Wow, that's damn good! Keep it up..any truth in it? Ive written some stuff on here if u want to look around. " -- Carys Davies.
"Sorry forgot to mention my name on this thing is C G L Davies! " -- Carys Davies.
"brilliant- jemz" -- jemz, dublin, ireland.
"Wonderfully described tale of true human feelings, certainly could be expanded and one day be a best-seller!!!" -- Kenny, Glasgow, Scotland.
"This is so amazing, gush gush and the like, oh wow I can't believe how good this is it's like gush gush amazing. Golly, it's so good! You must be so proud, gush gush" -- Marian Keyes, Chicago, Harlem, America.
"Most impressive ms Street." -- Dick strappers, Glasgow, Faifleys, Scotsland.
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© 2001 Jennifer Street
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