The first time she heard it, she thought it sounded like spring. Like summer and fall and winter and everything in between. She thought it was the sound of fireflies in sweet new grass, the sound of dim, midnight carnivals. The sound of trees glowing with flames that didn’t burn, and of cardinals and cold, crimson berries. She thought it was the sound of happiness.
The first time she saw it, she couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe how lines of iron spiderwebs strung across black wood could sound like the seasons. Couldn’t understand how that thin strip of ivory threads whipped across those spiderwebs could create music.
The first time she touched it, she frowned. She had grown up listening to music that she could never touch, and having her own this time was strange. She let her fingertips glide across petrified blood, shimmering with seams of red gold under glossy lacquer. She knew the curved wood at the very tip of it was a scroll, but what kind of scroll isn’t made with paper? She ran the pad of her thumb along those metal strands of spiderweb and wondered why it had never occurred to her that not all webs are soft and delicate.
The first time she carefully caressed the strings with her bow, she tasted the white powder that bloomed off the horsehairs. It tasted bitter, almost woody, and it was almost as bad as when the spider scolded her afterwards. Didn’t she know it was a flat, not a sharp?
The last time she played it, she couldn’t help but smile. She could remember when soft pink fingers had glided seamlessly across this fingerboard and how delicate flicks of her wrist had guided an entire orchestra through symphonies of old. She could remember when notes of beauty had bounced across concert halls, when crescendos had filled rooms. Now, old wrinkled fingers tapped across weary strings. She listened to make sure that each final note was perfectly in tune, and wondered exactly when she had become a spider herself, weaving webs of her own design.
She wasn’t flat and she wasn’t sharp, but she sure was a natural.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.