Rosin Up That Memory

David woke up with a start one humid midsummer morning, breathing unsteadily. He had just woken up from a nightmare, he concluded after seconds of sudden consciousness that seemed as hours. Recalling what had taken place in his dream, he bolted up to a sitting position and took a deep breath...but as his head left the pillow, the nightmare—which had seemed so vivid in his mind only moments ago, so real—was immediately forgotten. All David remembered was a horrid screeching and a feeling of dread, that sinking feeling which ensues when one learns one's fate. He could still sense the cave in the pit of his stomach as he knew what would happen, as clearly as if it had been real. Perhaps, David thought, it was because it had once been real.
Shutting his eyes tightly and shaking his head, David lifted himself out of bed. He felt unusually weary this morning as he dressed himself and combed his short tuft of hair. Though he could no longer remember his dream, he found that his hands were trembling...it was rather peculiar, he thought. Obviously this nightmare had shaken his very consciousness—it affected every part of him like no dream had done for a long time.
"A long time, indeed..." David thought aloud. He walked rather clumsily to a small shelf on the far side of the room. Unconsciously he picked up a black case from the top of that shelf—the case that held inside his old violin. His old fiddle, anyway—David was very particular about the difference between the two, despite that that very difference was characterized only by the way the instrument was played. Playing it always seemed to calm his nerves somehow, so in this post-nightmare state of mind it was only natural that he should do so.
As David rather carefully lifted up the strangely-shaped case, he couldn't help but look at the calendar pinned to the wall above the shelf. He shifted his glance to the column marked 'Saturday' and ran his eyes down to the date.

August 13th. David drew in a sharp breath as he laid eyes upon the burning red number. It was her birthday. Of course. It had indeed been a long time since a dream had had so much impact on him—a year to the day, to be exact. All of a sudden he remembered: the dark roads, the drunk driver coming round the corner in a large pick-up truck, the slamming of the brakes...he had been riding in the passenger seat, right next to her. Lost in the painful memory, he could once again feel that sinking sensation, watched the truck come forward as if in slow motion, couldn't move...then the sickening smashing sound, the violent jarring, and the splitting pain...that was when David awoke from his trance. Tears were in his eyes as he clutched tighter at the fiddle case. He had walked away from the terrible crash nearly unscathed, but she...the truck had decimated that entire side of the car, and her body had been crushed and slashed hopelessly.
"I'll drive this time," she had said with a slight laugh earlier that night, after they had left their favorite Italian restaurant. David insisted that he drive her home, but she adamantly objected. "You drove on the way here and paid for dinner, so I'll drive back. I can hardly justify an entire night of letting you do all the work!" David couldn't really have argued when she hopped into the driver's seat and held her hand out expectantly for the keys. After all, what's the worst that could happen? he remembered thinking as he dropped the key into her hand and walked calmly around to the passenger seat, oblivious to what would soon happen.
"If only I hadn't let her drive!" David screamed at himself as he had done many times before, roughly taking the case out to his living room table and setting it down. His yell seemed to echo through the empty house as he yanked the fiddle out of the case. Every year since the accident he would have a nightmare, one that flashed back to the night of the crash, and it always happened in the morning of her birthday—August 13th.

David took up the bow and drew it across the strings; slowly at first, but gradually more quickly until the speed of the melody was near the level of utter chaos. It was a tune he had invented himself, something he had been working on when he first met her so many years ago. He had been on his front porch with that very same fiddle, trying to find the right strings to carry out a song he'd been playing in his head for some time now. As David made a quick run-through of what he had completed so far, he noticed her standing not far away, just listening to him play. When he finished what he had up to that point, she walked up toward him with a look of wonder on her beautiful face.
"That's amazing," she said to him, looking him in the eyes. "Did you come up with that yourself?"
"Guilty," he said with a bashful smile. "It's been going through my head for a while now, so I thought I'd actually have a shot at playing it. There's something not right about it, though, and I can't figure it out." David looked into her crystalline blue eyes then—just a glance, but in that glance he saw whole new worlds in her eyes, worlds that he never would have known about otherwise, and the rest of the tune seemed to simply appear—his fingers knew it as if they had been playing it for years and years. A bright smile reached her lips as if she could read his thoughts, and David began to play once again. The song was perfect all at once, and as he triumphantly finished she clapped emphatically.
That was how it began. Playing this fiddle, David reflected, his bow vigorously flying over the strings, perhaps seemed to bring her back—and bring back those special moments that couldn't be repeated even had she still been alive. He continuously played the racing melody he had discovered the day he met her, the song he had named for her, the only song of true worth he had ever composed. He played it to bring her back, but still the images of the crash rang through his head. Why on her birthday? he asked himself, why not on the anniversary of the crash, or the day we met? He searched desperately through his memory for some evidence, some real reason for these dreams, and it fell upon him like the sudden awakening from his nightmare.
She had told him once, huddled up in the corner of his couch enfolded in his arms. Why didn't I think of it before? he asked himself. They were just talking like friends do, he remembered...it was a few days before her birthday, in fact; David was going on a business trip and couldn't be there on the 13th, so he was celebrating it with her a few days in advance. He couldn't recall what they had been talking about, but her statement rang clear in his mind.
"I always wanted to die on my birthday," she had said. David looked at her with surprise. "Saint Patrick did, I think. I just think it would be a fitting end—it would even things out, wouldn't it? I don't want to die on this coming birthday, David, don't worry," she laughed that rich laugh, "but many years from now, I want it to end just like it began."
The day of the crash was the following March 23rd. She never got her wish, David thought. He stopped playing his fiddle quite suddenly and laid it gently back in the case with a dazed, wide-eyed look on his face. The dreams had been like her ghost, haunting him these years to fulfill that wish...hadn't they? Having David relive her death on her birthday was almost like having actually died on that day, and for a moment he thought perhaps these nightmares were something divine, as horrible as they seemed. He felt as though he had finally granted his love her wish, that by discovering the truth he had somehow laid her to rest.
David closed the fiddle case and put it back on the shelf where he kept it, remaining completely silent as though someone other than he were in the house he had solely owned for seven years now. He picked up a framed picture of her from the shelf, taking a long look at it...and, thinking that ever so faintly he could hear their song happily playing for them, David couldn't help but smile.

Author's Notes: This came from a motley mix of a million things in my head; they just somehow all came together to make this. Interesting, since my thoughts are generally unconnected and chaotic. Part of it came from the concert I went to a few days prior to writing this—I saw Ricochet, a country band, and I absolutely loved the fiddler. ^_^ So that was on my mind; also, a poem by Ra'akone is titled "Lamenting of the Fiddler named Ludwig over Rebecca" and that clicked with the fiddle thing...then there was that song called "Days Go By" by Dirty Vegas...I had that in mind as I wrote. If you've read my previous story, "Song of Thunder", you'll probably notice a similarity there, also—I enjoyed the theme, and I decided to try another one slightly different. So as you can see, many things contributed to the idea for this; I usually don't write a single story about a person—I usually expand on it—but David's story probably won't continue any further than it's already gone. Still, I'm rather proud of this—please tell me, by the way, if parts of the story confused you, because I wrote it very late at night (or, rather, early in the morning) and I may not have been clear enough at times. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! ~MJ
Date of Composition: Saturday, August 10, 2002, 12-2 a.m.