Sleet has been knocking itself with grim timidity against the glass all day, and the sky is abysmally grey. It is not cheery weather, and when the feathers of my soul are ruffled by such matters, nothing smoothes them so well as the strokes of a violin bow. I tell myself this yet again, in hopes I'll actually do something with the bow clutched in my hand. At least the sleekness of the wood is pleasant on my palm--
No, I can't deceive myself. The bow feels morbidly wrong in my hand, and I cannot bear the feel of the wood; my fingers cringe in horror and drop it to the floor. I don't even want to look at it.
Trying another tactic, I pick up an old music book and thumb through. The texture and tooth of the paper claws my nerves, and I want to wring every music note by its delicate neck, simply because the ebony blobs look so disagreeable.
I throw it aside with a quiet groan. How I want to—create, yes, how I long to fill the room with music, splashing up against the walls, ricocheting and pouring out the window! Bach and Beethoven, every song, enough music to make London overflow! Music so fine, so beautiful and trembling, that it undoes the very problems of the world, a dazzling tune to cleanse the soul…and make everything hopeful.
Music is one of my deepest passions, it speaks in my core, even as I sleep--an undying flame of dedication and beauty. It always brings me joy, always pricks up my weary soul, and after years of toil and dreams I can outplay nearly anyone, I'm sure of it. I can unleash and send forth the cries of my soul, I can shake the world--or at least, the sitting room. But today...
My body writhes in frustration, I hate this! I hate it so deeply…my shaky hand grabs the bow from the floor. It is only wood, nothing abhorrent. I lift my Stradivarius from its case, grit my teeth and settle my chin firmly in position.
I have applied the rosin an hour ago, and still the silence hovers, broken only by the tapping sleet.
I gather myself and pull the bow across the E string in a relatively long, deep note, and then three more notes…
No! Wrong, wrong, it feels so wrong—my arm is stiff and awkward, I'm slaughtering "Greensleeves" alive. I fling everything down and throw myself into a chair, rummaging violently through my pockets for my pipe. I don't feel like moving to get tobacco, so I sit for a while, holding the pipe and running my finger around the silky cherry wood bowl. The wood glistens reddish and though it's not lit, it has a definite scent. My breathing evens.
After some minutes, I glance at the violin on the floor and feel my anxiety rise.
I wish today was different, I wish it was…easier.
But it's not to be, and after several more minutes have passed I quietly put away my instrument, lock the case and set it aside.
I sit with my back to the wall, listening to the irregular music of sleet on the window above me and reflecting that even Bach must have had days like this.