Tune of a Lifetime

Venkat Raman posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-56 on 2023-10-06

He left an apology note for his family and forever faded away. A man who had so many hopes and dreams ended his life that day. The note only had three words. “I am sorry” *** Ten years later, The Opera House As Alwyn sat in the front row, he felt a chill. The pianist walked to the edge of the stage and looked at him.  “Every tune has a moment of magic about it. This one has a secret. This tune is about you,” he said softly. As he did, the lights flickered. Alwyn saw something other than his face. Something that made him freeze with fear. Before he could react, the pianist began to play the tune that kickstarted Alwyn’s career. Everyone in the vicinity was enjoying the tune. The pianist played the tune to perfection. It was exquisite. It seemed to Alwyn that nobody else had seen the pianist say those words to him or that his face had turned to a skull when he said it. "This can't be real," thought Alwyn and shook his head. Perhaps he was dreaming. He had a long day. He looked around and a beautiful woman caught his eye. “If looks could kill!” he thought. Alwyn’s heart skipped a beat as she smiled at him. As he tried to return her smile, she gestured towards the pianist. It took him a minute to notice the hand that held the bow. Tattooed across his fingers were the letters "RAJA" "No!" said Alwyn with horror. It was not a coincidence. "Not after all these years". The pianist disappeared.  Alwyn was standing in front of the audience at the Opera House. They were looking at him with bewilderment. Alwyn realized that he was on stage, conducting the concert. The tune was something he had stolen years ago from Raja, his friend. "I ... I am sorry," said Alwyn quickly. It was the tune that made him an overnight sensation. It gave him a career. The cost of that career had been his friend’s life.  Suddenly, he felt a bony hand on his shoulders. He turned to see Raja in his pyjamas. It was not like he remembered him. Raja’s usual smile was missing. There was blood from his mouth. The rope that he had used to hang himself was still on his neck. His face was pale and his eyes were bloodshot. "Are you?" asked Raja hoarsely. Alwyn heard a noise. He couldn’t figure out what it was. “Why now?” he thought but he had no answer. The audience were now on their feet and had begun to disperse nervously. The noise, he realized, was his scream. He could not stop. As members of his staff ran towards the stage, Alwyn felt his vision begin to blur. Then, it all turned black. First line from “One Wrong Step, Everything Fell Apart” by Sheela Iyer Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!