FRIDAY #FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #24-A Concert.
How could an act as simple as washing grease off my hands become the herald of another exciting phase in my life?
“You finished adjusting the timing?” my son asked, setting up his music stand to practice.
“And I changed the oil,” I said. “After what happened to my husband, I don’t trust anyone else with our car.”
“You said you had something important to tell me, mother.”
Sitting at our kitchen table looking out the bay window at a forest of well-manicured bushes, flowers and grass, I said, “You look so much like your father.”
“My eyes are blue, like yours,” Aaron said, taking an oboe out of a case. “I have to return to Juilliard tomorrow.”
I smiled at the serious face and replied, “Play a few bars of Appalachian Spring on your oboe and I’ll tell you the truth.”
He sighed, lifted the reed to his mouth and the soft, lovely sound of an oboe drifted by as if it wasn’t one of the most difficult instruments to master.
“I played, you talk,” he said, smiling like a conquering king.
Your sister just landed a music scholarship, you play several instruments and…did you know I sang soprano solos in college?”
“I’ve heard it before,” he said, taking the hand-crafted reed out of his oboe, intent on dunking it in a glass of water.
“You heard that I attended college for a year, met your dad, got married, you were born and your father died, but…but my husband wasn’t your father.”
Never before had I seen my son drop one of his coveted reeds, nor had I witnessed a face with that much shock since we watched a mile wide-tornado coming toward us when he was 6. He glared at me as if the insult to his reed was my fault.
“You were told my parents died before you were born. My parents live north of Minneapolis in Woodland.”
“My grandparents are alive?”
“Here’s their address and phone number,” I said, dropping a business card in front of him.
“Do you have a card for my father, too?”
“No,” I said solemnly, “and I’ll explain why. My father called me home from college just as he had with my two older sisters, but 1974 was a far cry from 1965. Both dutifully met the men he’d chosen for them, and allowed mother to order their wedding dresses. But I didn’t go to college for a year of worldly experience, or to find a husband. I was polite to the man’s face, waited until he drove away and told my dad that if I married it was going to be my choice, not his.”
“Your parents are rich?”
“Only in money,” I said, adding in a bitter laugh. “He threatened to disown me, so I asked if I could go on a date with the man…to see if his friend thought I was good enough to marry. It was a very wife-like to think that way, so he allowed it.”
“I don’t care about trivia,” Aaron said, his face flushed with his impatience. “Who was my real father?”
“Don’t you understand how hard this is for me?” I asked, grabbing a napkin to blot away a tear. “I wanted to see Aaron Copeland come onto the stage to conduct Appalachian Spring in the brand new Minneapolis Concert Hall. I remember closing my eyes, laying my head back, and soaking in a sound so perfect I thought I was in heaven. To this day I can feel the beauty of it surround me.”
“Mom! Get to the point!”
“After the concert he said, ‘when we are married I will never have to endure that sound again.’ I was naïve to think he planned on taking me straight home. Somewhere between Minneapolis and Woodland, he pulled off the side of the road and…”
“He took what he wanted. I knew better than complain or the wedding would’ve happened faster.”
“You have to be joking!”
“A lot has changed in 20 years, my son. A man I swore I’d never marry talked with my father at the door as if nothing had happened. Hours later, I emptied my father’s wallet as he slept and hitchhiked back to college. The rest of the story is true. I married my college boyfriend, he took me home to his parents in Houston, your sister arrived 2 years later and your dad died in an accident with his parents. We inherited the house and a total of 4 million in life insurance to live on.”
“Do you remember my father’s name?”
“John Smith. Try finding that needle in a haystack.” I stared out the window as if it didn’t matter when Aaron’s shaking fingers began to dial the phone.
My parents never cared about my grades as long as no one called them from school, making it easy to forge my dad’s signature so that I could take auto shop. But a man doesn’t forget it when his daughter steals $3,000 from his wallet, $5,000 from his safe and hotwires his car. But he hadn’t admitted that humiliation to anyone or the police would’ve been at my door.
Never would my son know that I had walked to a nearby agent’s office every month for three years to pay the life insurance premiums with cash. Nor would he know that I’d lived a less-than-stellar life with my husband or that the dazzling, fiery crash over the highest pass on a 4-stack freeway hid all evidence of tampering.
My children and I had enough money for another two, maybe three years. As for my son’s sperm donor, he now lived in another state and owned the title of “senator.” I’d followed his life, his thirst for power, his fight with cancer, and his disappointment that he’d have no children to pass on his legacy.
I’d faced “impossible” head-on and survived it more than once. Like music and mechanics, it was all in the timing.