small town girls




Play For Me
by valentine

"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 violin.

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 beauty.

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 subtle command.

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 attended to.

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 husband.

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 any form.

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 prize.

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 were wrong.

"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 daddy and-

"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 laughs.

"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 you nearby.

"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. Peace.