My gut clenched and my resolve became iron-clad. With one sweeping movement I brought the case from my side and laid it upon my lap. Within seconds its contents were out and in my hands, the left curled around the neck of the violin, the right with its fingers spread out over the bow. My ear focused so sharply I could almost feel it as it zeroed in on the root note of the woman’s song. The fingers of my left hand scrambled as they sought the note, and within seconds rested as they found it. Then, they danced of their own accord, following my ear, not my brain, as they worked the strings. I had and still have no idea as to what I played, but I assume it was good, as I looked at the woman and saw an even bigger smile, something I honestly didn’t think possible. Then from the depths of the lyrics came a laugh, and I couldn’t help but follow suit, restrained as I was by the violin beneath my chin.
What we were creating was harmonious chaos, an illogical symphony. A care-free moment of madness. I looked at the older woman, her face even more puzzled than before, her eyes flickering with suspicion that this might be a flash-mob, small mob though it was. Perhaps she was inspired by what she saw, perhaps infuriated. All I know is, she got off at the next stop.
But still we played, the young woman and I. One of the songs I did in fact recognise, the words so fantastically apt she probably picked it on purpose.
“Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee day
My oh my what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headed my way
Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee day!”
From the corner of my eye I saw a small girl walk up the aisle, no more than four or five years old, and look at us with mild curiousity. I smiled at her and she laughed, before she returned to her seat, shyly peeking over the back towards us.
We played for what could only have been a brief ten minutes at best, but what felt like an eternity in my mind. Throughout our impromptu session, a feeling of pure giddiness and wild abandon had been steadily growing, until we looked at each other once again and that emotion manifested itself in the breathless laughter like that of a kid at a birthday party who’s eaten too many blue M&Ms. Our playing ceased, and tears came to my eyes and hers with laughter. I rested my instrument back in my lap when I recovered, and looked over at this enigma.
“Well done,” she said, the words bursting through her laugh, lilted with an unplaceable accent. I could only grin in return, wondering why the hell she’d be complimenting me, when it was her who started the whole thing. She was the catalyst, causing a wild reaction and release of energy, and coming through the other side seemingly unchanged. Without her, this would have been the most mundane of journeys. I would have been annoyed at being late for the first bus, and even more annoyed as the 49 doddered its way along its ridiculous detour through the Firhouse estate. Without her, my life could have taken a very different path, and her she was, thanking me.
It was then that I made my mistake.