View RSS Feed


Don't Ask Me Why: Chapter 29, Part II

Rate this Entry
There was clapping coming from the overhead speakers, signalling her turn. Tanya stepped out of the bathroom and made her way back to the concert hall. She felt sick to the bone, and tears continued to come to her eyes but she wiped them carefully away.
Tanya arrived backstage, and saw the orchestra director and other managers standing around. It was dark, and she was hopeful that they wouldn't see her sick complexion.
"Tanya! You look wonderful, where is Ernest?" the director said very casually. None of them were aware of anything.
"Oh... I'm sorry to say that Ernest suddenly got very sick, didn't you see him walk out of here so quickly?" Tanya struck an idea for a lie. "I met him in the back, he left the building immediately."
"Oh no! That's awful! What are we going to do?" the director asked anxiously.
"I will conduct, I can do it, I worked on it with Ernest actually," she said calmly.
"Are you sure? Sing and conduct?"
"It's doable... if not done before, it will be a first."
The director and managers looked at each other. "We only have a minute to decide... I'd go with her," one manager said.
"We'll do it, we'll give the audience the announcement," the director went out on stage.
"Where is Marcus?" another manager asked.
"I don't know... very strange..." Tanya looked at the ground. It seemed very easy to lie.
"Do you have his number?"
"I called a few times, no answer."
"That is strange... considering this is his own composition..."
"You're marrying him in the summer, right?"
Tanya stood silently.
She couldn't lie about this one.
"We've cancelled the wedding... but let's not talk of that now..." Tanya pushed away from them and stood by the stage-right door.
"You're on, Tanya, good luck," the director said seriously.

Tanya stepped on stage to applause, which mostly drowned the clacking of her shoes on the wooden floor. She reached the center of the stage at the podium, and bowed, all very unemotionally.
The lights were almost blinding at the center there, and she could barely see the audience sitting quietly in the dark. It suddenly hit Tanya what she had to do.
Turning around slowly, she looked at the musicians. They all looked on anxiously, hoping to do the best they could in this awkward situation. Alex, to her farthest right, looked very gravely, and he nodded his head for her to go ahead. With a deep breath, and with her bare hands, Tanya led the orchestra into a soft, melancholy strain of notes.
"Oh God, can I do this?" the thought suddenly flew into her mind. "... And yet, I am... for the end of all things..."
As soon as this introduction finished, Tanya turned out to the audience, bending over the podium's handrail, and so the Three Songs of Pushkin, sung in Russian, began...

Don’t ask me why, alone in dismal thought,
In times of mirth, I’m often filled with strife,
And why my weary stare is so distraught,
And why I don’t enjoy the dream of life;

Don’t ask me why my happiness has perished,
Why I don’t love the love that pleased me then,
No longer can I call someone my cherished--
Who once felt love will never love again;

Who once felt bliss, no more will feel its essence,
A moment’s happiness is all that we receive:
From youth, prosperity and joyful pleasantry,
All that is left is apathy and grief...

The orchestra did not have much trouble following her, to Tanya's relief. In the interlude, she gained confidence, and conducted until the music went directly into the second poem, which was slightly more uplifted...

Not long ago, in a charming dream,
I saw myself -- a queen with crown's treasure;
I was in love with you, it seemed,
And heart was beating with a pleasure.
I sang my passion's song by your enchanting knees.
Why, dreams, you didn't prolong my happiness forever?
But gods deprived me not of whole their favor:
I only lost the kingdom of my dreams.

This was the pinnacle moment of hope in the cycle. For almost a moment, Tanya held onto the words just as she gripped the hand-rail, as if they both were equally true, as if happiness had returned. Her voice soared over the orchestra, as she lost herself in the music.

The days drag on, each moment multiplies
Within my wounded heart the pain and sadness
Of an unhappy love and, dark, gives rise.
To sleepless dreams, the haunting dreams of madness
But I do not complain - instead, I weep;
Tears bring me solace, comforted they leave me.
My spirit, captive held by grief, a deep.
And bitter rapture finds in them, believe me.

Although Tanya wasn't singing in English, she knew what she was singing all too well. The words pierced her like the knife she already had at her side. The room began to swim, and there was no concert hall anymore. Tanya could almost see the dead bodies of the two men she once loved, or perhaps did still, with her own waking eyes. The audience had no idea that her acting and gestures were actually real actions toward her hallucinations. Tanya was no longer pretending. She was singing her own heart through the poetry of another:

Pass, life! Come, empty phantom, onward fly.
And in the silent void of darkness vanish.
Dear it to me my love's unending anguish;
If as I die I love, pray let me die!

In her last words, she reached out to the ceiling and cried out in Russian with so much emotion that the entire audience was blown away. The orchestra finished with a fiery and tragic coda which Tanya cut off with her own hand, her back towards the musicians.
A roar of applause came from the audiences, and shouts of "Bravo!" from everyone in the room. The whole audience was on its feet in less than ten seconds. Even the musicians started clapping in their seats.
Tanya's life was sucked out of her, and continued to squeeze the railing in front of her. Seeing that she was on the verge of fainting, Alex got up, put his cello down, and grabbed her by the shoulder.
"Tanya, are you ok?" he said very anxiously. Tanya looked at him in the face, but said nothing.
Stepping off the podium, she bowed heartlessly to more cheering and applause. Tanya felt her heart pounding like a hammer inside her, and her vision continued to blur.
But it wasn't blurry enough to see what was on the stage toward the right entrance.
Small, red specks of blood dotted her path.
She had forgotten to wipe clean her stilettos.
"Is that your blood?" Alex asked, himself stunned. He didn't see that from the other side of the stage.
"You'll forgive me, won't you?" Tanya asked in a small voice. Alex had no response.
The applause continued, and Alex escorted Tanya off stage. Dr. Johnson was there with the orchestra director, both of them beaming.
"Tanya!" Dr. Johnson exclaimed. "You were brilliant! Our university has never seen such a heart-felt performance from a vocalist! You've made history for us, Tanya!"
"Congratulations, Tanya!" the orchestra director was also incredibly pleased. "How sad Ernest could not be here! And Marcus, where is he, we need him to come here now and walk out with you! This is too great of an opportunity to miss! But are you alright? You look very weak, let me help you--"
"No, please!" Tanya took herself away from Alex, and pushed herself away from them. She was in such a flustered, exhausted, hysterical state that she couldn't think straight. Her chest felt like it would explode, and she could barely breath.
"I can't go back out!" she managed to say, leaning against a chair for strength, but not sitting down. "I can't do it! No more! No more!" her voice broke with a sob.
"Tanya, you're very ill, what's wrong?" Alex came next to her. "Is it to do with the blood?"
"Blood?" Dr. Johnson's eyes went wide.
"Yes, it's mine," Tanya spoke up with new strength. "I killed myself out there. I gave my all, and I have nothing left, because it's all out there! I just want it all to end! Oh God, it was all true..." her voice broke again, hyperventilation and sobbing all became one.
Just then, the two managers who Tanya talked with before came from the back, sprinting.
"Tanya, what have you done?!" one of them yelled in terror. Everyone turned to her, stunned.
Tanya's face relaxed. She looked everyone once in the face, and with one final effort said her last words, which were almost to herself.
"I've done... nothing."
Tanya pulled the knife out from the side of her dress, and plunged it into her heart.


  1. Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
    This is not the end!

    I'm just letting this story take a breather, and I will continue it in a few days. Let everything that happened soak in first.