Love’s Tempo- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #18

This week’s photo prompt for Suzanne Burke’s Flash Fiction Challenge is a mysterious piece of sheet music and a woman holding a rose. You can take part here:

He was at it again. She rued the day she’d allowed him to buy the baby grand. Day and night, he lived for those damn ebony keys. He didn’t even share their bedroom half the time, preferring instead to sleep with his infernal music.

It was their tenth anniversary and she’d worked all day to create the perfect meal; chicken cordon bleu, garlic and chive mashed potatoes, savory roast vegetables, and his favorite dessert, bananas foster. And through it all, he’d played. She’d tuned out the actual melody years ago. It was either that or go stark raving mad. It was the same song, over and over and over again.

At first, she’d tried to take an active interest in his… let’s call it what it was–addiction. She’d join him in the den, offering input into the music. In return, He’d give her a vacant smile and continue the way he was, dark head bent lovingly over the keyboard.

Then she’d gone the opposite direction, ignoring him, going about her day as though everything was perfectly fine. Making excuses for his negligence. Alone, and lonely.

But, tonight was the end. She couldn’t do it anymore. He was turning her into a bitter shrew and she didn’t like it. After dinner, she was going to give him the separation papers.

“Hungry?” she asked with forced gaiety.

“Hmm?” he murmured, penning some notes onto the sheet music.

“It’s our anniversary. I made dinner.” Not quite as cheerful now.

“Can it wait? I’m close to a breakthrough.” He glanced up with a smile.

Her heart did that stupid leap, still affected by him after all these years. “Please.” She hated the entreaty in her voice.

“Sure, babe. I’ll be right behind you.” He turned back to the piano and she slowly returned to the kitchen. Picked up the heavy butcher’s knife, and waltzed toward the den, buoyed by the harmonious chords bursting down the hall.

She was surprised by how easy it was, the cold steel sinking like warm butter into his back. The tune he was playing turning strident, a cry for help echoing in her head.

Then nothing.

Blessed silence as the ivory keys turned red and his precious music died with him.

She yanked the knife free, his body slouched over the keyboard, and gouged deep lines in the shiny black finish. The shriek of steel becoming cries of agony- hers. It was his fault- all of it. He’d destroyed their love as easily as she’d just ruined his beloved piano.

Finally, she circled around to the sheet music, and was about to rip it to shreds when the title stayed her hand.

Love’s Tempo- an pledge to my beautiful wife, who loves me far more than I deserve.

Yours forever, honey

Slowly, painfully, she sank to the floor near her husband’s head and sliced her wrists. As she grew faint, their blood melded into an eternal chorus–the day the music died.

30 thoughts

  1. What a great twist towards the end, Jacquie. This story got me thinking if I should spend less time writing. Now, I’ll be forever looking over my shoulder when it nears meal times. However, when hit, at least the keys on my keyboard are quieter than those of a piano. So I should be able to hear of any impending danger.

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  2. O-M-G! What a story, Jacquie! Incredibly well done — the tension, the despair, the fleeting glimpses of love. Wow. I think I spend far too much time on the computer. The keyboard might hide terror — or — maybe it just gives my husband extra time to watch the golf channel. I’m going with the latter. 😀

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  3. Wow, Jacquie! You went to the dark side with this one and it gave me goosebumps. If only she had waited a little longer. If only he hadn’t been so completely obsessed and oblivious. Oh well. They’ll get to try it again in another life. 🙂 Very well-done!

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