Title: "The Square"

Author: Innabyne (innabyne2001@yahoo.com)

Summary: A peaceful night in the square

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1

Once, when I was little, I saw a man in the city square, playing an old violin. He was old, with a ring of hair whiter than freshly fallen snow circling around his head. He stood straight up, but he wasn't stiff, or rigid; he would sway with the music. I stood there, swaying back and forth, with him, as he played. His hands, gnarled and old, seemed to have a life of their own as they ran up and down the fingerboard of his violin. His face was covered with liver spots, as were his hands. While he played, his eyes were closed, his head was cocked to the side, and he had a soft smile upon his face. It seemed to me that he was, at that moment, completely at peace with everything that had ever happened to him and everything that ever would.

The music rose up above the gathering of people in the square. The man coaxed the gentle notes out of the violin and into the air. It started out soft, inviting us all to come and listen for a moment. It whispered in our ears, and told us to forget our troubles and our worries. It seemed to wrap itself around us, tying us to the ground with its phrases. Gradually, its intensity increased, so softly and so slowly that we all jumped when it reached its peak and held itself there, straining against our ears, pulling us with it as the tension built until finally it broke, and let us all fall back down to the ground with it.

In its aftermath, the crowd of people was silent. They sat in the sweltering heat of July, sweating, suffocating in the heat but unwilling to leave without hearing the end of the old man's song. Little children sat on the ground in the trampled grass, pulling the dead roots out of the ground, and making piles with it. Teenagers sat on rumpled blankets under what little shade the few trees offered and were silent as they listened to the music. Young men and women stood on concrete, wiping sweat from their brows and losing themselves in the emotion of the song. The older citizens of the town sat down on rusty lawn chairs that haven't been used in years, drinking water and waving homemade fans in each others faces to ward off the heat. Together, in the small square, people from each generation, from every race, forget their differences, their problems, their prejudices, and sit down next to one another to enjoy the impromptu concert.

After a long while, when the old man has finished playing, the people begin to leave the square. They stand up slowly and stretch out their legs before walking back to their homes, to their lives. The old man, his white hair reflecting the light of the stars and the moon, begins to pack up his violin. He unscrews the bow, letting the hair once again go limp, and puts away the loose sheets of music that earlier in the evening were fluttering in the wind. He takes the violin once again in his hands and traces the strings with his finger. He takes out a white cloth from the violin case, and wipes off the strings, wincing at the harsh sound he makes, so unlike the beautiful notes from earlier. Then when he finishes, he puts the cloth and violin away in the scuffed brown case and locks the latches. Slowly, so as not to injure himself, he stands up, looks at the empty moonlit square, smiles once again to himself, and leaves.