My only chance. That's what it was. My only chance, and I blew it. Why? Because I was afraid.
I know there's plenty to be afraid of in this world. I also know that unless you let go of your fears and get on with it, unless you ignore them all and actually live your life how you need to live it, unless you do what has to be done, you'll never get anywhere. But sometimes there are things we can't face, or at least, we can't face them alone.
It's odd, though. I've often fantasised about being able to see and in some ways I'm sure it would be fantastic. Perhaps the joy of seeing my family would overcome whatever displacement I would feel when I realised that I wasn't living in the world I thought I was living in, but somehow I'm not so sure. In fact, I was once told a story of a man who had been given such an operation. He killed himself in the end. I don't want to die - I want to live. I want to live in this music and never let it go.
Talking of music, I haven't played much recently. I'm afraid of that, too. Since I discovered that my 'compositions' weren't actually mine I've been unable to play the instrument in the same way. It's almost as though there's something wrong when I'm trying to write something original. The only things that that violin can play are the things it's played before - tunes I've been taught, and tunes I haven't. Maybe that's where all my music came from in the first place: the people that played Elenora before I did.
Mum couldn't understand me. She'd let it go about the operation, but she was still pressing me to practise in the same way that I normally do, since I had another lesson tomorrow, yet I couldn't focus for more than about ten minutes at a time. I wandered around aimlessly, running my fingers over the piano and hoping that there, I can find another tune, one that's my own. But I couldn't.
I've taken to listening to a lot of music. Mum brought me back a bunch of CDs when she went out to the shops of an evening not long ago, and I've been spending hours crouched by the CD player. It's funny, but now that I can hear the real arrangements of the pieces my own duets with the piano seem pathetic and 'thin' without the thick layers of the texture on top. I don't like my own versions any more.
When I eventually went to my lesson, Anna was stern. She put her hands on my shoulders and refused to let me get my violin out of the case until she'd said what she wanted to say.
"So you've had a shock. But does that mean you're going to curl up in a little hole and never play again? Of course not! All composers make mistakes in the beginning. Fortunately, nobody heard about yours, and everything's fine. You needn't worry so much. I'll teach you to play things that other people have written, so you don't fall into the same trap."
"But you don't understand," I said miserably, trying to put my thoughts into words and failing. "It's just that - I can't really explain - I feel ... well, I don't know how I feel - I feel betrayed. You didn't tell me sooner ... you didn't let me know straight away that it wasn't my music, though you must have known..."
Anna stroked my cheek. "Poor boy. Of course I didn't tell you. It would have broken your heart." She said nothing for a minute. "But you're stronger than this. You've got a gift, Mark. You just have to learn to use it in the right way, don't you? You've got some things you can't do. Well, so does everyone. You've also got some things that no one else can do. So do them."