That Strange-Looking Boy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 12, 2012
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The crowd wasn’t very big, maybe 30 people, and no one was watching the tiny stage. I wandered closer, weaving between the little tables that struggled to support giant umbrellas, even though it was already dark and the black sky with its scattered crumbs of fire showed no signs of rain.

I don’t know what lured me down to the front, unless it was the peculiar stare I felt bouncing from my lips to my eyes and back again from the strange-looking boy with a big nose sitting on the edge of the stage. He wore a jean jacket over a black T-shirt and baggy jeans. He had pale skin that looked almost yellow in the streetlamps. His hair was so black it was almost blue, and it fell gracefully into the most amazing green eyes I had ever seen.

If his hair was graceful, I wasn’t. I stumbled over the cobblestones, lost in our unspoken connection. When I looked up again, he was gone. A few steps more and I found him at the front of the platform, moving the milk can that served as a tip jar for the band, as if to say that he couldn’t accept money for what he was about to do.

The last guitar note of the song died away as a boy whispered “Thank you” into the microphone and smiled at the two or three people who clapped. He glanced at the strange-looking boy and gave a little nod. He nodded back almost imperceptibly and hopped onto the stage to join the guitar player/singer, saxophone player, and drummer. The strange-looking boy took his violin out of its case and began to rub something up and down the strings of the bow so tenderly that I couldn’t help but wonder if he had some sort of unhealthy attachment to it.

I recognized the song at once; it was by Dave Matthews. The other three played well for teenagers, building to the point when I knew the violin would begin. It happened just as I thought; he came in perfectly, with a movement so natural it was as if he hadn’t moved at all.

I am sure the other members of the band continued to play, just as I am sure people behind me didn’t stop talking to enjoy it, and I am positive that it was still nighttime in Savannah, Georgia, and I have no doubt that the strange-looking boy played for an audience of more than just one. But the moment music sprang from beneath his chin, the band was silent, the people were silent. The street was flooded with the brightest light.

And the boy was playing his violin for me.

And for himself. I soon realized that the light which had consumed the two of us radiated directly from his amazing green eyes, proof of the fiery passion that burned inside him. The light was a sphere that lifted us into the sky to unite with the stars and join the heavenly orchestra playing so fiercely that only their own ears could follow the spectral notes. His motions were so fluid that I could scarcely be-lieve he actually coaxed the music from an instrument, imagining that he simply willed sounds to exist.

As for me, I had no instrument. I could only be, standing frozen in the flames of his talent.

And he played.

He played his violin, and it didn’t matter that he was only a strange-looking boy. He played, and it didn’t bother him that the milk can sat empty, hidden from view. He played and the street was made of gold and the stars over Savannah were his audience and his accompaniment. And when he looked at me again with a stare that bounced, I fell in love with him for proving to me that when you really enjoy living, big noses and empty milk cans don’t matter.

Finally, when I once more felt the street beneath me, I looked for him, but he was gone. Another boy whispered “Thank you” into the microphone and smiled at the two or three people who clapped.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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