Music of the Night

Part Three: By Sara



“How’s your French?” Luka joked, as the waiter handed them both their menus.

“Dreadful, I’m afraid, “ Rebecca confessed, “I was much more interested in music at school.”

Luka watched as Rebecca struggled with the foreign words in front of her. Should he help, explain the meanings? No, he wanted to watch her for a little longer; she looked so cute, her face fixed with concentration.

He leaned closer, across the table.

“Did I tell you….”he began, “You look very beautiful tonight.”

Luka couldn’t help smiling as her face blushed a deep red from embarrassment.

“Stop it…” she murmured into her menu, “And help me with these awful words before that waiter comes back!”

The evening seemed to fly by in a whirl, with the talking, the laughing and the flowing of the wine. They talked about his job at the hospital and about music. Rebecca’s face lit up as she told him of her time at music school. She had been sent away to school at a very young age, a gifted child prodigy.

“I practised so many hours a day, I would have aching wrists,” she told Luka.

“I would sit at the piano and go into another world; I’d look up at the clock and find six hours had gone by without me even noticing. It was a very intense time, I can’t imagine living like that now.”

“But didn’t the pressure get to you?” Luka asked, “You were only a child.”

“Yes,” Rebecca said, “It did eventually. I rebelled when I became a teenager. I used to sneak out at night with some of the older girls, I’d go and get really pished…sorry, drunk…I was terrible, I used to smoke dope and have sex with the local lads….”

She paused, blushing again. “God, I can’t believe I’m telling you all this…It’s just that…something had to give, I suppose. I got expelled from the school and sent home, and for a couple of years I didn’t go near a piano. I don’t blame ma parents for sending me there, all the teachers said I was so talented, but… I don’t think I ever wanted to be a concert pianist, anyway.”

“But you play again now, don’t you?” Luka asked, adding “You play wonderfully.”

“Thank you, “Rebecca smiled, shyly, “Yes, I went back to it in the end, but on my terms. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy music again, but without that awful pressure to be something I don’t want to be. I teach now, I play for ma own enjoyment, I compose ma own music. In a way, I suppose I’m grateful to have had that musical grounding, it’s second nature to me now, it’s like speaking a second language. It’s a very important part of ma life, but…it’s not the only thing in my life.”

Luka smiled at her again. What an amazing woman she was, so interesting. He found himself imagining being with her all the time, going to places together and being constant companions. How ridiculous it seemed to feel like this about someone he had only just met. Luka recalled his time in Croatia and remembered his beautiful wife. So long ago it seemed, and yet the memories were crystal clear. Luka knew that he would never stop loving her, but also that it was time to move on. It was what she would have wanted, he was sure of that.

“Can I get you anything else, sir?”
The waiter startled Luka out of his reverie.

“Oh no, thank you, just the check please.”

Rebecca stood up.

“I’ll just go to the bathroom.”

The waiter returned with the check, and left Luka to examine it. As he reached into his jacket pocket for his wallet, Luka suddenly realised it wasn’t there. Where had he put it? Luka frantically searched all his pockets, but all were empty. He suddenly remembered himself getting ready earlier that evening. He’d spent quite a while trying to decide between two different jackets, and had finally settled on this one, bought at Marks & Spencer in Paris. He cringed at the realisation that the wallet was in the other jacket, which was lying on his bed at home.

Rebecca smiled as she returned from the bathroom and sat down. Her face fell as she saw Luka’s pained expression.

“What’s the matter? Indigestion?” she joked.

“No…I’ve…..I don’t know how to say this, I…” Luka faltered, “I’ve left my wallet at home, I can’t believe I did that…what must you think of me…”

Rebecca began to giggle. She opened her purse and showed him the contents – a lipstick, a packet of cigarettes and about 30 cents.

Luka started to laugh too, despite the circumstances. He couldn’t help himself, her laugh was so infectious.

“What are we going to do?” he whispered, worried, as the waiter approached their table again. Rebecca sat there, shaking with the effort of trying to keep a straight face while Luka began to explain.

“I’ve….er….well, what’s happened is, the thing is…we’ve er…”

Rebecca suddenly burst in, interrupting him,

“I’ve had a sudden desire for a huge cream cake! Can you bring me the biggest slice of chocolate cake you have, with extra double cream?”

“Certainly, madam,” said the waiter, and headed off towards the kitchens.

“What did you say that for? I can’t afford it!” Luka exclaimed.

Rebecca grinned.

“How fast can you run?” she said, her eyes sparkling.

Luka’s eyes widened in horror.

“Surely you’re not suggesting we just…leave without paying?” he hissed, glancing about to make sure nobody was listening.

“We haven’t got time to argue,” Rebecca whispered, “Come on, on three…one, two, three!”

Rebecca stood up quickly, and, grabbing Luka’s hand, walked briskly and primly out of the restaurant with her head held high. As soon as they got outside, she yelled,

“Right! Run!!!”

Almost doubled over with laughter, Luka was dragged along the street as Rebecca sprinted away from the restaurant, still holding onto his hand.

“Don’t look back!” she cried, as they heard shouting coming from the doors of the restaurant. They ran as fast as they could, until eventually they could not hear the angry waiters. They came to a stop by the lakeside, and stood for a moment, laughing and wheezing, out of breath.

“Well,” said Luka, when he got his breath back, “I’m certainly going to get indigestion now!”
“Who cares, it was a free meal!” laughed Rebecca. Luka looked at her, standing there with her hair all messy, fallen from the neat chignon she had worn. The heel of her left shoe had broken off, and she was red in the face from running.

He stepped towards her and cupped her face in his hands, gently brushing locks of  hair out of her eyes. She stopped laughing immediately and gazed at him, her brown eyes widening. Luka moved his face next to hers and began to kiss her, tenderly. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him. Luka felt his heart was beating fast, he could hardly breathe from the excitement of being with her like this. He moved his hand along the contour of her slender neck, gently stroking downwards, before cupping her soft breast in his hand. Rebecca flinched under his touch as though he had slapped her; her whole body stiffened and she pushed him away.

Luka stepped back in astonishment.

“Rebecca, what’s the matter, I’m sorry, I…”

“I can’t, I’m…I’m sorry, I have to go…”

Rebecca turned and began to cross the road, where a line of taxi-cabs was waiting. Luka tried to follow, but the traffic became too busy.

“Rebecca, wait!” he shouted.

“I’m sorry!” she cried, and climbed into a cab.

Luka stood, dejected, as the taxi drove away. Fat drops of rain began to fall on him, but he didn’t feel them. He watched the rear-lights of the taxi fading into the distance, his hair dripping wet with rain and his coat soaked through. When he could no longer see the cab, he turned and began the slow walk home.

to part 4

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