thin pale fingers nervously twitch. formerly pretty mouth twists into a griamce. knee stutters up and down uneasily. the pianist used to be slender, she is now gaunt.

yeah, i'm bitter. what the fuck do you expect?

her shoulders stay drawn and her eyes remain downcast as she speaks. blue half moons imprint in her palms from her fingernails.

i can't ever play again. i never will.

she's talking about the piano. the steinway grand she used to play. she was radiant onstage, purple dress and blonde hair, bright blue eyes. she had a way about her. it was...beautiful.

you know perfectly well that's what it was. if not for that, i'd be okay. a receptionist somewhere in suburbia and i never would have seen him.

the blue half-moons turn to cuts. every time she speaks nowadays, it happens.

i should've known better. just because he seemed nice. just because he wanted my autograph...

she bites her cracked lips.

i mean, he was a small guy, cute. he said he had a picture he wanted me to sign. i was too young to be jaded about autographs...i loved giving them.

she lifts her gaze for a moment, her look pleading for understanding. there are tears in her eyelashes.

he said the picture was in his car. asked if i'd just come out quick-like. so fucking stupid. i said okay, you know? i said okay. trusting. so fucking naive. child.

there's a bitter edge of anger in her voice, trying to mask shame.

i mean, i thought he might be dangerous, but he said he loved my music. so of course, how could a fucking fan--

she says it with cynical disdain

--want to hurt me? that fucking piano attracted him. that's why it happened.

she squeezes her eyes shut, but tears still leak out onto her cheeks.

i follow him out to his car, of course, and there's no picture anywhere. go fucking figure. that asshole had to rip my dress while he was at it. three hundred dollar dress, the first fine thing i've ever been able to afford in my life. the dress...that was least of it, of course.

she sniffs, trying to hide it. stares at her sneakers while tears run down her cheeks in a steady stream.

what? no, fuck you. FUCK YOU! he didn't "take advantage" of me. that's what...that's what car salesmen do to customers. he,,,that's not what he did.

she looks up for a second, as if rallying herself.

he raped me.

her voice breaks on the last word. she's crying in earnest now, little sobs coming that she talks through.

he threw me in the back of his car in an empty parking lot, and he ripped my dress and he held a knife to my throat and he broke my fingers. broke my fucking fingers.

she holds up her hands. the fingers are a little bit crooked. they don't bend well.

all i want to do is play again. but he made sure i never could.

her words are almost unintelligible, her face is crumpled. she holds her hands up and shakes them. raises her voice.

i can't ever play again!

she seems to collapse in upon herself, becoming lost in thought. she distantly whispers.

i never will.