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I Can Play
I crept forward another step in what I knew instinctively was the right direction. Navigating my room had become almost impossible in the past two months, after the accident. The accident that left me blind because of how hard my head hit the windshield and how bad of a concussion it gave me.
Now I had to feel around with my arms held away from my body all the time. Walking through my own apartment that I shared with my best friend had become a hazard. It was rather small and I was always bumping into or stubbing my toes on some thing or another.
But Lacey could only help me so much. She had to go back to work so someone could earn enough money to keep us living where we were in New York City. Her job at the bar down the street barely paid enough, now that I could no longer work.
I used to be in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and got paid to be in it. I played the cello. I loved playing, too. It was like the only place I could find release in. Now my cello was in its case, somewhere in my room that I couldn’t see. Lacey had had to hide it because every time I bumped into it, I would get upset and she would have to spend half an hour calming me down.
The cello was my life.
But I couldn’t see the music anymore, so what was the point in playing?
That was my attitude for the two months after the accident, until today.
Lacey would be getting home from work in less than ten minutes and I was determined to find my cello if it was the last thing I did. There was no way I was going to play it, but I supposed that just touching it again would help me feel better. There was also the chance that it would send me into a spiraling depression, but right now, it was worth the risk.
“Ow,” I muttered as I stubbed my toe on what I thought was the corner of my closet door. But I couldn’t be sure since I hadn’t gone into my closet for two months, knowing that I would get hurt if I did. Lacey usually set some clothes out for me after she got back from work and I was sleeping.
That’s why my closet was the first place I felt for my cello.
And it was a good thing I started there, because just two steps inside where I thought the door was, my hand brushed against the familiar material of my cello’s case. It was rough under my fingers, just as it had always been. My heart skipped a beat as I felt around for the shape. I could feel the narrow neck, the widening curves as my hands traveled towards the bottom, the sudden indents on the sides, moving out again until my hands met at the very bottom, on either side of the endpin.
I moved my hands to the top of the cello again, feeling for the handles of the case. I found one and grabbed it. I carefully picked it up and slowly walked out of my closet until I felt my knees hit the side of the computer chair I never used anymore.
My fingers found the zipper on the side of the case and I laid it on the floor with that side up. I held the chair with my other hand and sat cautiously—I usually missed the chair the first time I tried to sit on it. Luckily, I didn’t fall off this time and my heart rate was quickening at the thought of what I was about to do, just like it used to every time I was about to perform at a concert.
I unzipped the zipper of the case and pulled the instrument from the soft velvet interior. I stood it up as best as I could and I thought I was going to cry. Feeling the polished wood of the neck and body brought about such a strong feeling of nostalgia. I felt like I was a real musician again.
My hands went back to the case, searching for the rock stop, bow, and rosin. I was going further than I had initially intended, actually making an effort to play again. I put the rock stop on the floor in front of me after I moved the case out of the way and used my hands to grab the endpin and put it where it was supposed to be in the rock stop. I set the cello between my pajama-clad knees with the top resting against my chest while I found the frog of the bow, one hand still holding the block of rosin.
After my bow was rosined, I set out to tune the cello. I plucked the A string and it felt like my life was coming back, even though everything around me remained black. That string was already in tune even after two months, so I moved to the D string.
Remarkably, all four strings were in tune.
Now for the moment of truth.
I decided to start off slowly with a D major scale, just to warm up my fingers and get back into it.
The notes rang out around my room with a precision I thought was lost with my sight.
I was instantly transported into a world that I never imagined being in again. Not even the door to the apartment closing with a loud bang could take me away. Even the sound of frantic sprinting footsteps could shake me.
“Maria? MARIA?!” Lacey was shouting in a panic.
She came crashing through the door of my bedroom seconds later. I jumped and almost fell out of my chair as my head snapped in the direction I thought she might be in.
“Maria?” she asked gently.
I could feel my eyes tearing up and felt Lacey come closer to me. She made an effort to take my cello away from my shaking hands, but I wouldn’t let her.
“No, let me play,” I insisted, my voice trembling. She stopped pulling. “I can play, Lacey. I got my life back. I can do this.”
I heard her sob. “Oh, thank God,” she whispered gratefully. “I finally have my best friend back.”
She tackled me then. Her hug was squeezing the breath out of my lungs, but it didn’t matter at the moment.
I could play my cello still. I might have to have Lacey help me with seeing the notes on the page, but as long as I could memorize the song, I could play again.
My life was finally returned to me.
I can play my cello.
I can play.