Marian Wood: Evie and the ‘Violin folk’

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Evie and the ‘Violin folk’

By Marian Wood 

Violin music

The haunting music played as I sat huddled up in a corner of my bedroom. The sad mourning sound of Evie and her violin. Once part of a popular folk band, she no longer left her house. The sound was beautiful, yet sad.

Two months ago, a gig had ended in tragedy. As her partner George finished singing, his body appeared to convulse as he fell into the audience. The crowd had caught him before realising that he was unconscious. Later a forensics report on his bottle of water showed that he had been drugged. An overdose of Tylenol had ended in liver failure and his death.

The police had not found his killer. The band hadn’t played together since, and Evie now played the same tune over and over. For her that violin was cathartic, but for me its sound just went through my head. I couldn’t ask her to stop because it was her only therapy.

Visitors

Hearing a bang on the door, I stirred. I didn’t want to move but I needed to know who it was. Pushing myself up I heard another knock, louder this time.

Answering the door, there was a tall stranger, my heart jumped, what now?

“Hello, Jane Mills?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I’m Detective Inspector Moss and this is PC Ward.”

I looked at the woman, trying to place whether this visit was good or bad.

“Okay, err, come in.”

Showing them to my lounge I wasn’t sure whether to offer them drinks or just sit down. Feeling awkward, I gestured towards the settee as I sank into my armchair.

“Are we okay to call you Jane?” asked the woman.

“Yes, what’s this about?” I could still hear Evie sadly playing.

“We have had reports of a group of lads watching these houses. We are wondering if you have noticed them.” I thought for a moment.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it. I try and go out when I can. Evie won’t stop playing the violin, over and over.”

“She does sound very sad.” I nodded at PC Ward.

“Are these men connected to George’s death?”

“We suspect they could be. If you see anything, please phone the station.”

Getting up DI Moss passed me his business card.

“I will phone if I see anything. Is Evie in danger?”

“We don’t know, but she’s not answering her door.”

I nodded thinking how occupied she was with the violin. Too sad for visitors.

A day later

Sitting drinking my morning coffee, I was watching the scene out of my window. I now saw a group of men sitting on the wall across the road like the three wise monkeys. If the police hadn’t brought them to my attention then I wouldn’t have thought about it. I thought of Evie. I could still hear her screeching violin.

Watching them jeering, I picked up the phone. Dialling the number on yesterday’s business card, I wondered how soon someone might come. I then had the urge to try and talk to Evie again. What was the story? And why had George been killed?

Ten minutes later I heard two cars outside. The men started to run with the police chasing after them. Through all the excitement, the violin music continued.

A little later I watched the men bundled into the cars and I took the opportunity to check on Evie. Shutting the door behind me, I felt pain in my stomach, what was I going to say to her? Ringing her bell there was no answer, maybe she couldn’t hear me.

Deciding to check around the back I walked through her tall metal black gate. The first thing I noticed was the line of pots with just brown dead stems. I then realised for the last two weeks I have heard the violin constantly. She had spent so long mourning she had neglected her garden completely. Evie loved her garden, so though she was hurting, letting her plants die didn’t make sense.

Around the back

Feeling sick now, I reached her back door. Finding it locked I had a bad feeling, something was wrong. I regretted not checking on her sooner. Would I be in trouble if I threw a brick through the window? Pulling my phone out, I once more dialled the police. The operator advised they would be with me shortly.

Looking through her windows, I spotted her violin sitting alone on the settee. The sad music was still playing. It made sense now to have been playing on repeat. I couldn’t see any signs of Evie, but her dark blue coat was lying over the armchair. The weather was overcast and dull, there’s no way she would have gone out without it.

Hearing the police arrive I felt relief. Walking around the front I watched them force open the front door. As they ran in an officer held me back and I could hear the music clearer. It wasn’t long till a policewoman came out announcing they had found a young woman’s body.

I felt like I had been punched. Why had I not gone around the back sooner? Why had I assumed the music was Evie? She played the violin beautifully and I knew she was mourning George. It looked like whoever killed George had now killed Evie.

“Oh my God, err officer, err are all those in the band at risk here? Is someone out to kill them all?”

A memory struck me, a headline a week ago of a local car accident. I hadn’t read the article but had recognised the face of Mark Dunn. Another violinist of the violin folk. Why were they being killed one by one?

A few weeks later

I sat again drinking my coffee and reading the ‘Highton Gazette’. Turning the page Evie’s smiling face jumped out at me. George, Mark and the only surviving band member, Wilma, stood next to her. I could feel the pain in my chest as the story opened up in front of me.

The gang had been involved in a murder which George had witnessed. George had then threatened one of the gang members after a conflict in the pub. This had then led to them killing the band. Wilma was lucky that they were caught before they had come for her.

I will never listen to violin music in the same way. The violin folk had been a highly respected band until meeting the gang of thugs, leading to their final demise. A sad ending for such talented musicians.

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Please visit Marian on her blog:https://justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk/ 

Calliope Njo: A Lesson Learned

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.

A Lesson Learned

By Calliope Njo

“No. No. No,” Mr. Scabbard yelled each time he reacted. His eyes and the top of his head turned red, which contrasted with his white hair and beard. “You read that script as if it was solely a piece of paper. Put heart into your character. You have expectations, desires, and other emotions, so express them as you see fit.”

The man talked with his hands so much, surprised nothing got knocked over or that he didn’t hit anyone.

“Mr. Scabbard, I did.” What was his problem? I did put feeling into the character. It’s not as if I didn’t put any effort into it.

“Everyone, leave for the night. It’s eight o’clock. Remember to practice your role as if that person existed. Not merely as this script reads. This is a play full of meaning and feeling, for God’s sake. These are not mathematical equations, so stop treating them as such.”

Everybody filed out the door as I almost did when I realized my keys were missing. A short jog back on stage and they shined under the light. They somehow managed to lie next to a violin.

A musical instrument of some sort made a noise four times. “OK, this is not The Bells Tolls. It’s the Lover’s Bell. This one doesn’t have music.” It repeated, and I ignored it. A thorough search back and forth, up and down, nobody around to do anything.

I stood on stage and looked out toward the empty chairs. Row upon row of seats to be filled with people who paid to watch me perform. All those pairs of eyes on me.

I memorized and practiced my dialogue, but Mr. Scabbard kept yelling at me to put more soul into it. Damn it all to hell. The old man needed to retire.

What a fool I was to think this would work. This little company created some of the biggest stars and he was responsible for it. Maybe I should quit and admit everybody was right while I was wrong.

Somewhere a violin played. It couldn’t be. Instruments were inanimate objects and needed us humans to get them to make noise. Despair, empathy, or desire didn’t exist within them. They didn’t have a soul. How could it?

I watched it and right before my eyes it floated in midair and played. I wished I knew the tune. So beautiful, the notes conjured images of couples in old gowns dancing around the room.

I felt a hand grab mine. I opened my eyes, and he smiled at me. Taller than me with ebony hair. His closed eyes didn’t allow me to see them. He bowed to me, and I bowed to him. We danced with everybody else, as clumsy as it was.

A constant pulse went through me when we moved around the room. It became a part of my thoughts, so much so, I thought in the same rhythm it played.

From corner to corner and back again, we stepped and twirled around. My legs had a mind of their own. It didn’t matter if I thought it was time for a break or not; they kept going, as if they wanted to prove me wrong.

What was going on? I controlled my intentions and feelings. Not some musical instrument. “Stop!”

It didn’t. The instruments kept playing, and everyone continued dancing. A look around while we danced, and it wasn’t the stage. It was someplace else with an enormous area and a humongous chandelier overhead. Candles floated high up. So while nobody bumped them they made for a sight to behold.

Wake up, you idiot. This was no time to dream. “I said wake up.”

Nothing again. “Listen, let me go. There’s someplace I have to be.”

“Shh,” the man said. “Words heard in silence. The heart beats loudly in its own rhythm. Only the two can meet when all is well.”

What? What did that mean? “I have to leave. Now if you would let me leave.” I struggled to wiggle my hand out of his grasp, but it wouldn’t loosen. He put his head on my shoulder, and we continued dancing.

An attempt to steer him toward the door failed as couple after couple blocked the way. What was this? Why was this happening?

“Will somebody please call 9-1-1?”

Not that I expected anybody to, but I had to try something. Somehow, we danced our way back to the middle of the room. There had to be a way to get out of here. Forget about through the roof; without anything to climb on, the ceiling was a lengthy way up.

One door in and out, and no luck the first time I tried. No windows, and I didn’t think anyone would help me to clamber through them. Nothing around to break them with, anyway.

“You continue to search,” he said. “All efforts have failed. Instead, listen to the sound. It vibrates through you. There will be your answer.”

I wished he offered me his name so I could tell him off. All this talk about listening and feeling. I’ve been doing that and not—wait. Granted, the music had a weird beat to it, almost like the heart, but that didn’t have to do with anything. Did it?

OK, fine. I gave up. No clock in the room either, yet one chimed eleven times from somewhere. A deep breath inhale… and I let it all out because that didn’t help.

In math, a problem is presented, and through a series of steps the answer is found. I should’ve stuck with becoming a teacher instead of acting. Math was much more logical and there was an answer. Most times.

Kept dancing and kept dancing, around and around. “Stop. I had enough.” Of course, nobody listened. 

“You seek an answer. Yet, the answer is there. You fail to feel. You fail to listen.”

“What are you talking about? You are making no sense whatsoever.”

“Darling Stephanie, do you not hear?”

“Yes. I hear you rattling on about nonsense.”

He laughed. The bastard laughed at my misery. “The one thing you never learned to listen to is giving you the conclusion you seek, my dear. Without that, the triad within you cannot exist.”

“You see. More nonsense.”

He stopped moving. I took that as my opportunity to wiggle out from him but it didn’t do any good.

“Knowledge and logic is in the mind. Understanding and suffering is in the heart. Processing is in the liver. That is the triad within everyone.” He continued to dance.

It sounded like something that philosophical studies would teach. I growled and grunted as I followed him around. Continuing around the room gave me a chance to think about that.

Knowledge is in the mind. Feeling is in the heart. The beat to the music resembled the heart beat. “Of course. Unless I stopped to feel the music, I wouldn’t hear it. I would follow along without hearing the music. Ha.” I laughed at myself as I stopped to listen.

He had been out of pace since this started and I didn’t notice. He opened his eyes and showed dark, empty pools of nothing. I stopped our progress and started again in beat with the music. Even if I screamed, nothing would happen.

The surroundings faded, and I was back on stage with that script in my hand.

I didn’t memorize the lines. I learned them as I became the character. Her thoughts and feelings became clear the more I spoke. A character was much more than a name. A character could become as real as we wanted them to be. Her in my case. We made them real with feelings.

I spent the next two days in the heart and mind of my character until the night of our opening. When I got stuck, all I had to do was picture that violin and it would all come back. Standing ovations the three nights of our performance. The critics even loved it.

The closing night, a violin sat in the open. “Thank you. You taught me a lot. You also reminded me of something very simple. For that, I thank you.”

Mr. Scabbard walked on stage towards me and bowed. “You see, all you had to do was listen with your heart and not your head.” He laughed as he disappeared.

The violin remained on that chair. The bow moved enough to make noise but not enough to produce music. Then it too disappeared.

There had to be a story about this theater, but I ran out of there too quickly to find out. Maybe another time, because at that moment all I wanted to do was go to the local bar and get drunk. It wouldn’t solve anything, but it gave me a ready answer to what happened.

The End

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Please visit Calliope on her blog: https://calliopenjosstories.home.blog/