Shane McCutcheon knows how to sell herself, and no, that has nothing to do with her activities in the time that stretched between her escape from the endless round of foster homes and when she started to learn how to shape peoples' hair. She knows how to bargain, knows how to prettify and talk up and set expectations to just the point where they're comfortable. She'd never put it into anything so clumsy as words, but it's true: she knows what she has and she knows how to work it and she knows how to manipulate the market.

It's not that she's not authentic, because that's not it. There's no other person she'd rather be, no individual behind the mask just waiting for the moment the curtains go down. No, she's not an actor, not a puppeteer, not a model wearing a silk screen for the camera. She's a busker in the streets, plying her craft in the only way she knows how, asking nothing and receiving the world for her troubles.

It truly is the world to her. Not the sex, though that's nice too, but the feeling of not being alone, because standing on the streetcorner with a violin braced against your jaw is one thing but breathing heavy with another human being with you, heartbeats racing to sync is quite another, and one of Shane's foster fathers had owned a violin shop and she'd gone in there once and smelled the dust and the wood and something inside her had switched off in utter awe because she could feel, palpable and harsh on her skin, the reality of all those people who had made those instruments, who had played them and preserved them. She had never felt so young and alone and out of control.

She thinks back to that sometimes, thinks back to being eleven and feeling the rest of eternity and burning a moment into her own mind because she knew how much she would need it one day. She goes back into the memory and she curls herself up there and she has never had any idea how to play the violin and she didn't like that set of parents much anyway, never liked the lives they made for themselves, but she imagines cradling an instrument in her hands and listening to it sing. She thinks about how the floor would feel against her bones, thinks about the ghosts that must go about with the music, and even when she was eleven she knew she would spend the rest of her life worshipping women and what is a violin but a woman?

She thinks about the lives they must have lived, those instruments, going from owner to owner, parent to parent, lover to lover. She imagines how they would have felt about it all, imagines them talking. Imagines them telling, or maybe not, because she sure as Hell has a voice but she never really uses it in the way she's thinking of. It's not that she's happy with her guts in her belly, but evisceration is best done before an audience.

She thinks about not having a home, about being loved a thousand times and sometimes possibly even being in love and not being able to hold onto it because this world tears everything good apart. She thinks of bow after bow, searching for the right notes. She thinks of all the songs that have been forgotten and something inside her twists, even now, all these years later, because Shane McCutcheon is a woman on the streets baring her heart to anyone who asks and who better would know being forgotten?

Shane knows how to sell herself, and that's good, because all she's ever wanted is to leave an impression and at least she can control what that is, from owner to owner, parent to parent, lover to lover.

It's not immortality, but it's the most she's ever going to get, and she knows that, so on she trudges through the mess of a universe she exists in, heart beating to someone else's rhythm when she can catch it and eyes kept wide open to catch the ghosts long left by the wayside.

A/N: As a former violinist, I quite enjoyed working with these motifs.

~Mademise Morte, January 31, 2013.