Play For Me
"Play for me," you say with a voice that no longer
really belongs to you. She asks which piece.
"Nocturne," you whisper, and really you thought they
would be more painful, these memories.
It's Handel because the Christmas program at the
Metropolis Symphony Hall is the closest you come to
church anymore. The choir is singing but you don't
hear the words. All you can see is the first chair
Young, you think, seventeen maybe eighteen and
beautiful. Red, red hair against the black lace and
white skin, a triumvirate of color and you can't focus
on anything except that spot, just under her chin,
where they meet. You lean in, cursing yourself for
forgetting the stage glasses, and wonder what color
those eyes are.
The music comes to a coda, the applause filling the
hall as you leave your seat. The musicians' area is
crowded but a way is parted before you. They all
know you, have seen you, your father. Some even
bow. The conductor grasps your hand, kissing it
gently. And you ask about her, the new girl, the one
with auburn hair.
"Ah, you mean Pamela," he says, maybe knowingly,
though you don't care. He's an old friend; he
understands your aesthetics, your need for discretion.
You've always had an eye for talent. Talent and
He leads you through the crowd, pointing towards the
girl, standing now with the other musicians.
"Do you know who I am?" you ask, lightly laying
your hand on the delicate neck of the violin.
Of course, the girl answers with deference. And
you're immensely pleased when the lithe figure bends
in a proper curtsey. Manners are so rare these days.
You don't use your influence often in the name of
acquisition anymore. A juvenile habit you put aside
quickly. But this girl, this milky skinned prodigy,
you must have.
"There is a party, New Year's. You will play for us?"
Although there is no question in your voice, only
And the girl nods.
The snow is falling outside the penthouse windows
and it's a mix of vaguely familiar orchestral favorites
in the background. But the girl, Pamela, is there,
violin singing under long, tapered fingers. Such a
shame, you think, to confine such beauty in the corner
like that. But the business of the evening must be
You drink champagne and greet guests and
dignitaries. You dance with your fiancˇe; clasping
his slender hand in yours, just close enough to dispel
the rumors. You've had years to practice the art of
demure reticence. Gracing these men with the lilting
laughter they believe is genuine before gently guiding
them towards your father, and, now, your future
The clock strikes twelve and he's pressing his lips to
yours. Not unpleasant, but nothing like love; perhaps
enough affection to pass for it at least. You break the
kiss, allowing him to hold on tightly, his beard
tickling your ear.
"She's lovely," he whispers.
And you're grateful for that; maybe it's not a blessing
but certainly approval. Not that less would have
stopped you, but nice all the same. Then, again,
Lionel always has been able to appreciate beauty in
The guests leave none too soon and you make your
way over to the small stage after the last goodbye.
"Thank you," you say, reaching out to lightly touch,
your own pale skin blending easily with hers. You
get the first good look at the girl: jade satin with an
empire cut, very flattering, and a simple pendant
adorning her exposed neck. And, yes, her eyes are
green. And wide. And she doesn't pull away.
"I...Next week, I'm playing," she stammers.
"I'd love to hear," you smile, withdrawing your touch,
pleased that she unconsciously leans to follow.
Bach's Vivace fills the small auditorium and it's all
you can do not to close your eyes and be swept along.
You want to see this.
Fingers dancing along the delicate neck, moving so
fast at some points they become a blur. And she's
nothing but pale arms moving against the soft pink of
her gown. And, well, you'll have to talk to Pam about
her wardrobe at some point. Perhaps you should just
take the girl shopping. With skin so pale she's much
more striking in bold colors.
You see the way the audience looks at her, like she is
the only one on the stage. Most with admiration,
some with jealousy, some with want, some with a
desire that you know burns. You understand then that
you'll never attend a public performance again. At
heart, you're a selfish woman, unwilling to share this
You find her after the concert. She seems startled to
see you, then blushes, red high in her cheeks and you
really had thought she couldn't look any better. You
"It was lovely," you offer quietly, your hands clasping
tightly around the pocketbook as you turn to leave.
"Wait," she calls and you can't keep the smile from
your eyes. "I'm glad you came." She ducks her head
and looks at you through lowered lashes. She just
stands there, far enough for propriety but close
enough for you to smell her perfume.
And then it's a kiss to the cheek lingering a little too
long, and fingers playing at the soft skin of your
wrist. You're sure she knows. And it's better this
way, having her come to you, rather than just taking.
An hour before your wedding it's Canon in D. You fix
your hair while Pam tunes her violin, playing brief
snippets every few minutes. You have your
grandmother's veil and never worn diamonds from
"Oh God, I need something borrowed," you say.
And those fingers work quickly, red curls falling over
pale shoulders. The golden barrette tucked up under
your veil at the back of your neck. It's warm and
smooth and you can't help but touch it.
"Remember, it's borrowed, I expect that back," Pam
"You know where to find me," you smile back. And
you grab your bouquet, before you can grab her, and
walk down the aisle.
And it's Mrs. Luthor now, if you please. But that
doesn't stop Pam's hands on your head, leaning her
body in to unfasten the clasp. You watch white,
white teeth worrying the delicate lower lip as the
fingers work to untangle hair from gold.
You raise your hand, and you think it may just be the
most tentative thing you've ever done in your life, to
touch that face. And you love the gasp, the wide eyes
before the brush of lips against lips. You're sure you
could stay like this, just like this, all night. It's not as
though Mr. Luthor is expecting you.
The notes spill out of Alexander's room as you quietly
open the door. She's playing Braham's for him
because it's his favorite, and because he's not quite old
enough yet to be ashamed of lullabies.
You worry about them sometimes. Lionel has never
warmed to her, never been as accepting as you are of
him and his. Not that it surprises you, but it is
unfortunate. You suspect there is something else
there too. Jealousy, perhaps, that the nanny, his
wife's companion, has more connection with his child
than he does.
The music fades away and you can see her head turn
to you in the dark. No way she could have known
you'd come in, but she's always been able to sense
"Pam," His small voice startles both her and you.
"Will you stay?"
She looks over to ask silently and you nod.
"Of course, Alexander. Now," she says, picking up
her bow. "Try to sleep."
There's just enough light in the room now to see that
they both have their eyes closed, him in sleep, her in
respite. Two angels with red, red hair and alabaster
skin, and you wonder how you came to be so blessed.
Pam is crying and you think you might be too; it's so
hard to tell anymore. You know this is the last time
she'll play for you, the last song. You think it should
make you mad or sad or something more than
peaceful. But you've already done that, raged and
cried and cursed, none of it coming to any good.
But you have her word, her promise to watch over
Alexander, to play her violin until her fingers refuse.
She won't though, play. She hasn't performed
publicly in, God, it must be years and years.
And as the notes become softer you think it might be
okay, think it's only right. She's always been yours,
will always be yours. And, in that, there is comfort.