|Piano And Violin Love Story
Author: Bomee PM
Ari enjoys the summer at her uncle’s cabin—he makes violins. Her uncle’s apprentice is a savage looking young man who seems to have a twin, a clean-cut and well-shaven guy who’s just Ari’s type… A Piano and Violin Love Story, with a bittersweet ending…Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Words: 4,412 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 4 - Published: 07-05-06 - id: 2206361
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Piano and Violin Love Story"
By Kathleen Lieu
Ari Alfaen sailed down the open road on her brother's bike and laughed. She had added pink ribbons to the bike's handles and Ari knew Garrick would explode when he'd find out.
Summer was finally here again and for a while, she would not have to pick up a pen or a book. By the end of summer and the start of school again, her penmanship would resemble chicken scratch and her vocabulary would not surpass that of a ten year old.
Did she care though? Not a bit. She was free, free like the waddling penguins of the Arctic, the sex-frenzied salmon of wherever, and the blissful birds of the vast skies.
Verdant beauty graced her vision in the form of lively and bright leaves dressing the trees lining the open bike path. The winds were calm and gentle and the skies were endlessly blue. A talented and omnipotent painter added soft wisps of happy clouds here and there. Ari closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Could life be any more refreshing than a simple bike ride down a familiar road?
Ari was a pianist who had decided to take violin lessons with the local violinmaker who also doubled as her paternal uncle.
"The most beautiful music is made with both a piano and a violin," Ari convinced herself. The only problem was she had no idea how to play both instruments simultaneously.
Ari parked her bike in front of her uncle's shop, a log cabin in the middle of the woods at the end of the bike path. Next to the cabin was a tiny shed that doubled as Auntie Mayra's iced beverage shop during the livelier months of summer. Still, hardly a soul bothered to make the trip just for her beverages, save for the few occasional bikers.
A bike similar to her brother's was parked in front of the shed. Ari studied the metallic blue cast of the bike and the dark leather of the seat.
"That's too hip a bike for Uncle Al," Ari talked to herself as she oft did when she was bored or alone. "They have a visitor?"
Uncle Al hardly had any customers. He was somewhat wealthy and eccentric enough to own a business that made next to nothing annually. The shop was only opened during summer. When Uncle Al was not in his violinmaker guise, he was a lawyer who worked at some snazzy city law firm.
Ari prepared her nostrils for the infiltration of a musky wooden scent the cabin possessed and rapped furiously on the door. She squeezed her legs together. In enjoying the bike ride and her freedom, she had forgotten how full her bladder was mid-ride.
"Uncle Al! Auntie Mayra? It's me, Ar—"
The door swung open and a stranger appeared to block the doorway. He looked wild. With her mouth agape, left that way from being interrupted mid-sentence and surprised, Ari looked absolutely dumbfounded.
"You must be Ari. I'm Liam, your uncle's apprentice." Liam obviously hadn't shaved for weeks and Ari could imagine he hadn't showered for days as well. His dark hair was tousled, his overalls seemed dusty, and the only redeeming qualities about him were light-blue eyes, adequate height, and an appealing figure. Ari blinked her eyes and mentally berated herself. Since when was she interested in a guy's form?
"You don't look too much like a boy. Or a girl…" Liam added with a smirk on his no-good, cocky face.
Ari opened her mouth wider. "You're the perfect tomboy," Uncle Al always said. He had probably told Liam all about her and her short brown hair, barely-there chest, and other boyish qualities. Oh how many girls have fallen for her at first sight, Ari could not count with the number of fingers she possessed.
"Ham? Did you say your name was Ham? Nice to meet you." Ham, jam, yam all rhymed with Liam. She had her own arsenal of retaliation against this jerk. First impressions were made in the first three seconds of meeting and person and Ari immediately disliked the young man. She narrowed her green eyes and shoved Liam aside to enter the cabin before storming toward the bathroom like a passionate marathon runner in sight of the finish line. Emptying her bladder made Ari understand the true meaning of euphoria.
Exiting the bathroom, Ari signaled to Uncle Al when he finally appeared to greet her. "Hi Uncle Al… Your bathroom's overflowing again."
"Now what did you eat to have caused that?" Uncle Al laughed his signature hearty and goofy laugh. Not funny, so not funny.
"This cabin has crappy plumage."
"This cabin has crappy bird feathers? You mean plumbing?" Liam laughed.
Ari curled her hands into fists. "You know what I mean, Yam."
"So you two have met and are friends already? Nice. His name is Liam though Ari. Short for William."
"I know and I don't care," Ari muttered through clenched teeth.
Liam rubbed the back of his head and grinned.
"I'm going to get some fresh air. Nice to meet you Ari."
"The feeling's not mutual," Ari replied, loud enough so that only Liam could hear her.
"Come back in time for lunch. I'm going to fix the bathroom first. Ari, why don't you show Liam around then? He's from the city."
The wild savage guy's a city boy? Incredulous, Ari blinked and studied Liam like a student studying a frog she's about to dissect.
"Well I assume he knows how to get here and get around the place. I mean I saw his bike outside. He doesn't need me. I'll just sit here or help Auntie Mayra with lunch."
"No need!" Auntie Mayra yelled from within the cabin's kitchen. Ari was infamous for setting inedible things on fire in the kitchen. "And hi Ari," Auntie Mayra added with mock-politeness.
Ari was about to smack her forehead soundly when she noticed the same smirk creeping into existence on the hairy creep's face. She wasn't about to let this Liam win that easily.
"Fine. Hey William." Liam her butt. "Why don't we have a bike race?"
Uncle Al chuckled and disappeared into his flooding bathroom.
Liam arched and elevated one of his eyebrows. "Are you sure about that?" As if he were saluting—he wasn't—he placed a hand to his forehead and looked down at her. "Those legs are pretty short for a girl."
Ari nearly growled.
"What's the prize?"
"I don't know!" Ari rushed outside to her bike, or rather Garrick's bike.
"Pink ribbons? You'll surely win then."
"I didn't know you ten minutes ago but I know for sure I already don't like you."
"That's not nice. I'm your uncle's apprentice. I'm also the one who will be teaching your violin lessons."
"Great." Uncle Al was crazy. Ari hopped on to her brother's bike and prepared herself for the race.
"Come on, what's the prize?"
"Winner gets to decide, okay?"
"Fine with me." Again Liam smirked.
"Ready? One, two—"
And yet she still managed to lose to Liam.
Removing herself from the bike, a very sweaty and exhausted Ari plopped herself on the grassy ground. Before her and Liam was a deep, blue lake that seemed to stretch endlessly.
"I wished there was a piano here," Ari whispered to herself. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The sun baked her face gently and the winds caressed it softly. The lake smelled clean and she wondered if the water tasted as sweet as it looked.
"On who? You and yourself?" Liam blinked before grinning. "You're strange."
"And you look stupid." Beat that sucker.
Liam rubbed his beard and pouted. "Hey now that stung. You're not as nice as your uncle says you are. But you are cuter than I'd imagined." Liam tilted his head and took a seat beside her to stare at the vast lake before them.
Ari cocked her head. Was he flirting with her? The compliment caused millions of capillaries to explode across her already rosy face. Hopefully, he'd think her blush was nothing more than a flushed face from their bike race.
Ari turned her head slightly to look at Liam. He looked like he belonged in a jungle.
"How old are you?"
"Oh." He looked older. Her father would go berserk if he knew she was alone with a guy two years her senior in somewhere that could easily classify as the middle of nowhere.
"The beard makes me look older, eh?"
Eh? Was he Canadian?
"It does. It makes you look wild. I have a feeling you are hiding behind your hairiness."
Liam chuckled. A moment of silence passed between them.
"I look like my father this way." Ari could swear she sensed a transient sadness in Liam's expression when he said that.
"Oh… I look nothing like my parents. Sometimes I wonder if I'm adopted." Ari shrugged and plucked a blade of grass before pressing it to her lips. Music was a beautiful part of nature. She blew gently on the blade of grass.
Liam smiled and shook his head. He lied down and rested the back of his head on his arms. The sweet sounds Ari produced with a mere blade of grass lulled him to sleep.
"I'm that boring?" Ari pouted and began to scrutinize the sleeping young man. How a person could fall asleep that easily was beyond her.
His straight nose was flawless and his brows were well groomed and finely shaped. With a haircut and a shave, he'd even look presentable, Ari thought. Not exactly her type though. What was her type anyway? She liked the shy and nerdy types, guys with their noses in books and their eyes glued to computer screens. Liam had the oil-rinsed mouth of a playboy. A healthy shine existed on his lips and his eyelashes were soot black. A painter would love him, especially his eyes.
Ari sighed. For the next months, she'd see him almost everyday, she knew. He'd teach her to play the violin and she'd either hate his guts or fall madly in love with him. The mere exposure effect guaranteed the latter notion.
"Yea right. Like I'd like a beastly man." Ari removed her eyes Liam's face and chuckled to herself.
"Do you always talk to yourself?" Liam asked with his eyes still closed.
Ari fumed and nudged him in the gut with her elbow. "I'm leaving."
"Ow." Liam groaned. Ari laughed. She stood up and prepared to leave but stopped when Liam's fingers wrapped around her wrist.
"Can you stay with me a little longer?"
Ari narrowed her eyes and gawked at the lunatic.
Liam smiled and released his grasp. "It's so beautiful here."
At that moment, as he smiled gently, he looked beautifully sad. Something tugged at his soul and reached out to engulf Ari.
"It's too quiet." She moved closer to him and sat down again.
He stared out at the lake and remained motionless in his own little world, swallowed by his deep thoughts. Suddenly he blinked and Ari found her eyes trailing the path of a single tear that rolled down his bearded cheek.
"What's wrong William?" Ari asked. Her fingers itched to wipe away the single tear from his face. He slowly turned to her and his gaze fell from her eyes to her lips. Ari felt awkwardness change into warmth that radiated throughout her body. His gaze did not make her feel uncomfortable.
"Lunch's probably ready." Liam shrugged. He stood up and gave her his hand to help her up.
"You were crying."
"Men shed blood, not tears." Liam laughed and quickly walked to his bike. He hopped on and did not turn back to look at her. "You think you can beat me this time?" he asked before speeding away.
Ari couldn't expect him to reveal the sorrows of his soul to her. After all, she didn't even know he existed two hours ago. Fate was this fickle and uncanny though. She'd make it her mission before the end of summer to find out all about Liam and what plagued him.
Ari wondered if her chin fell to the ground. A pair of clear blue eyes on a cleanly shaven face stared straight at her. Combed and neatly cropped hair replaced Liam's crown of wild and tousled hair. He wore a crisp and clean light-blue shirt and a pair of jeans covered his long legs. He smelled the same though, like an exotic and musky jungle. Funny how Ari's nose remembered his scent.
"What happened to your beard? And your hair?" The Liam from yesterday and the Liam now looked like two different entities.
"I didn't want to hide behind a beard anymore." Liam winked.
"Doesn't he look handsome?" Auntie Mayra asked when Ari entered the log cabin. Ari was speechless. He looked… godly. Ari swallowed uncomfortably. She blinked and carefully studied him again. Aha! There was a small mole on his face. He wasn't perfect after all!
"Ready for our lessons my little student?" Liam covered his eyes with a pair of glasses. Aha! He had flawed vision! Not my type, definitely not my type, Ari convinced herself.
Auntie Mayra took a napkin and wiped away the drool from the corner of Ari's mouth. Embarrassed, a rosy-cheeked Ari nodded her head and followed Liam into the back room Uncle Al reserved for violin lessons. They sat down by a table and Liam handed Ari a violin and a bow.
"If you pass my course successfully, the first violin I'll make will be for you."
"Uh okay…" Why though?
"Do I look professional and fit to be a teacher?"
Ari nodded and blushed profusely. Liam inched closer to her and she could feel his warm breath on her face.
"You know, falling in love with the teacher doesn't guarantee you a good grade." Liam smirked his signature smirk of cocky arrogance.
"Remember that the winner of yesterday's bike race gets to decide on a prize. I know what I want." He grinned and stared at her with feigned lust in his eyes.
Blast him to heck!
"You're horrible." Ari held her hands tightly together atop her lap. Even the blind could sense her discomfort. Looking slightly shocked, Liam raised a hand and waved it.
"I'm sorry. I'm only teasing you because the expressions you make are very funny." Liam chuckled.
Ari wanted to whack him with the bow.
"Well serious matters now. Your uncle isn't paying me to bother you."
"I'll make sure you don't get a penny if you continue to play around." Ari turned her head away and pouted.
"Miss Alfaen. I know you can play the piano. It'll make these lessons easier. With your ear for music, the first step will be a breeze. Tuning the violin…"
The less Liam teased her, the more he revealed his softer side and with no beard to hide behind, it was easier for Ari to catch glimpses of the melancholy he tried to conceal.
By the end of the month, Ari could gracefully hold the violin and play it with acquired ease. Now if only she could play the piano while she played the violin, she'd be the happiest musician in the world.
Riding down the bike path to her uncle's cabin and having Liam open the door for her, watching him try to carve a beautiful violin, and letting him teach her play had all become too wonderfully familiar. She watched as the days on her calendar quickly disappear and wished time could last longer. Summer was already half gone. She knew she wouldn't see Liam again, at least not until the next summer and only if he'd sign up to become Uncle Al's apprentice again.
She had to find out what plagued him and fast. They only had a month left together.
Liam wasn't the one to open the door for her as usual.
"Why do you look so surprised and sad to see me? Ah, I know why." Auntie Mayra winked and nodded.
"Auntie Mayra! It's not what you think! We're just friends!"
"What was I thinking huh?" Auntie Mayra laughed. "Liam's by the lake. He said to meet him there. Oh, violin lessons by the lake! How romantic it is to be young." Auntie Mayra's sigh was caked with wistfulness.
Ari gave her aunt a look of confusion. "Thanks!" With that, Ari sped toward the lake on her brother's girly bike. It was as good as hers to keep, Garrick had said when he finally noticed the pink ribbons she had attached to its handles.
She remembered the tear that fell from a bearded Liam's eye a little more than a month ago when they first met. To this day, he had not revealed to her his soul.
Vibrations were waves that entered one's eardrums to produce sounds, some soothing, others annoying. With a piano, Ari merely had to press a key and a hammer would strike a string to produce a sweet sounding vibration. Pressing a right combination of keys would give birth to wondrous melodies that soothed the ears and one's soul.
Maybe Ari was dreaming. The lake was playing a piano— or rather, someone with skilled fingers was playing a piano by the lake. Liam…
"How did you bring a piano here?"
Ari's question did not interrupt Liam's playing.
"It's our story. Does it matter how I got it here?"
Ari coughed. He was just too much. "Incredible."
"You're easily impressed."
"No. You play better than I do. That's impressive." Momentarily, Ari could turn into a piece of spinach from envying Liam's skills.
Ari had enough science lessons to know the brain governed all feelings and emotions. Still, she couldn't help but fathom how and why Liam could touch her heart so. He had remembered her whispered wish and granted it.
Tears welled up in her eyes. "This is a known line. No one's ever done something like this for me before."
Liam finished the song he played and laughed. "You are easily pleased. I like that. You're pure. You express your emotions clearly. You have nothing to hide."
"Hmm… Don't be hackneyed and say I'm simple like an open book, please." Ari grinned and wiped away the tears forming in her eyes. "Really William. Thank you."
"Why do you insist on calling me William?"
"It's better than Willy at least."
"You don't like Liam?"
"It sounds like ham."
"What is Ari short for?"
"Ariusyn. It's my grandmother's name."
"Ariusyn Alfaen? You are named like a character from a fantasy world."
"I love it."
Liam grabbed the violin he placed atop the piano and walked over to Ari to hand it to her.
"Want to play something together?"
Maybe she didn't have to play a violin and a piano simultaneously. Maybe she could just have someone to play with her. She couldn't think of a better person than Liam to carry out her dreams.
"Did I ever tell you I wanted to learn to play a violin and a piano simultaneously?"
"How? With your toes?"
"Haha very funny. No… Anyway, now I know I just wanted to have someone to make music with. And I'm glad that person is you. Thank you."
Liam blinked and silence filled the surrounding air. The gentle breezes pushed him closer to Ari and his eyes lingered on her lips. Slowly, he bent his head toward her face.
"You smell lovely," he said softly as he breathed in her scent. "Never change who you are." He didn't blink and his lips were moist. Ari couldn't help herself. She stood on her toes and pressed her lips against his. The soft kiss lasted less than a second. Still, Ari felt fire in her cheeks. She turned away and hugged the violin close to her chest. Liam rubbed the back of his head awkwardly and stood still to stare at his shoes. His own cheeks were lightly pink and Ari thought she could hear his heart pounding against his chest.
"Shall we play for the lake?" he asked with a stutter. He gently took hold of her wrist and led her to the piano. He sat down and began to play a classical piece. Ari rested her chin on the violin's black chin rest, her fingers on strings and the bow in position. She played with her heart.
The song ended and Ari sighed. An eternal smile could be planted on her face at that moment.
"My turn at the piano."
Liam nodded and they gave the piano and the violin a whole afternoon of courtship to give birth to the sweetest sound of all, the product of a piano and violin love story.
Sitting before the lake now with their fingers laced together, Ari rested her head on Liam's shoulder and breathed in his scent. In years, even if they weren't together anymore, she would remember his face and his heart by evoking memories of his scent: musky, wild, and exotic like a jungle. They were too young to think about the future now and only the present mattered.
"Why did you cry that day?"
Ari turned to face Liam and stroke his unblemished cheek. He moved his face forward and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
"What's hurting your soul?"
"I want to know. Please?"
Liam smiled and stared at her eyes. "Remember how I told you I looked like my dad with my beard?"
"He died last year from a heart attack. When I looked at this lake, I remembered how much he loved to fish."
Liam was still holding back. There was something else he neglected to tell her, something else that plagued his soul. Losing a parent was never easy, regardless of the child's age and gender and how and why the parent passed away.
Ari squeezed Liam's hand. She'd let him slowly reveal his soul to her.
"I could have saved him," he finally added. "I could have resuscitated him. But I didn't know how. I just kept pumping at his chest. Pounding at it. Screaming at him. Nothing. By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he was declared dead." Liam shuddered. Tears flowed from his eyes down to his chin.
"I'm sorry." Ari cupped his face tenderly and began to kiss away his tears. The pain on his face broke her heart and he continued to cry softly like a child in the comforting presence of his mother. "You have to know it isn't your fault."
Liam hugged Ari and rested his head on her chest, closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
"You remind me of spring tulips."
Ari stroked his cheek and her finger rested on the tiny and adorable mole on his face.
"I wish I were older."
"So I could go to college with you."
Liam laughed. "Silly girl."
"I don't want this to just be a summer affair."
Liam laughed even harder. "Affair? We haven't even…"
"What?" Ari raised a fist by his face.
"I'm glad I can make you laugh. Feeling any better?"
"I think we should head back then."
"You won't tell your uncle and aunt I'm a crybaby right?" Liam laughed. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead.
"Everyone has the right to cry silly."
"I guess… I've never cried to a girl before."
"Well, from now on, whenever you need a shoulder to cry on, I'll be here."
Liam removed his head from Ari's chest to face her. He reached out to run his fingers through her short hair. She looked like a pixie with wings ready at the spur of a moment to fly away and conquer the world.
"Thanks Ari." He claimed her lips and treated them as if they were as fragile as soft tofu. The kiss lacked passion but the innocence of the act warmed Ari's heart. It symbolized a silent promise of protection and understanding. She was now a part of Liam's soul.
He took her hand and brought her to their bikes.
"Tomorrow, let's just take one bike."
"But I like riding my own bike," Ari mock-protested.
"Then you can drive me around in your bike."
"You're horrible!" Ari eyed the piano and the violin. "What are we going to do about the instruments?"
"I've rented the piano out for the rest of the summer. Don't worry, no one's going to take them. I think they like it by the lake."
"I think so too." Ari laughed. The piano and the violin fell in love by the lake.
"So, shall we race again?"
"Will you let me win this time?"
"Maybe. If I win, we'll take one bike tomorrow. And I'll ride it." Liam winked and smiled.
"Fine. I love you Liam," Ari whispered to herself as she watched Liam speed off on his bike.
She had once read a book where the author compared love to a bike ride.
"One could compare love to a bike ride and a bike race. There are guaranteed bumps in the road and occasional falls. One could ride alone or with another and take both familiar and unfamiliar paths. At the end of a ride, there was always a destination. At the end of a race, there was always a finish line. Some riders came out as winners and others were losers."
Ari's bike ride was just beginning…