A Canvas of Silence

My language of expression is music, where only seven letters can paint a masterpiece on a canvas of silence. It reflects emotions in me and provokes them in you. It transports us to other worlds. Here, I recall two moments where I spoke my language.

Ugly beige walls and out-of-date floral chair coverings. A plain wooden podium, vases of flowers, and boxes of tissues. I keep my eyes on the carpet because I can’t bear the sight in front of me. Sitting with me in their best black clothes are my mother, my sister, my aunts. My grandmother clasps my father’s hand, tears in her eyes; the gold on her finger still shines after 57 years.

We’ve heard from a handful of family members; they speak in tones of wistful remembrance, telling stories about one of the greatest men I ever knew.

Now it’s my turn. In my hands, music, my most powerful medium of expression.

Sentiments flow from my violin. My bow shakes and my sound trembles. But the imperfections create a path to the heart. The tune is raw, lonely, reaching, as the melody sings the lyrics: “The sound of his laughter” and “a love that will always remain in my heart.”

The string stops ringing, my farewell stops singing, I take my seat.

We sit in rehearsal as our director leads an analysis of the movements. We make each note heard. “It’s too much,” he says with a shake of his head, as we play pianissimo. “Softer,” he whispers. 17 violins, five cellos, five violas, and two basses exhale and release a breath of pressure on their bows. He pauses, checks the score, and again, raises his baton. We raise our instruments. The silence is shouting to be broken, water fighting against a dam. But when the baton comes down, the sound that escapes is barely audible above the mechanical whir of the heater. Hours of practice, but in time, we are ready. We’ve made each note perfect.

Illuminated, we serenade a dark concert hall. “He will call… ‘dear little orange blossom’”. One moment, the heart cracks. I know Butterfly’s fate, and the violin sings of a doomed love. Yet I listen to this beguiling tragedy once again. Fingertips shake, hearts pound, minds wander to a house atop a hill in Japan. An audience holds its breath while emotions flood the hall, and we’ve created magic.

Alexa Bodor is a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia. She recently discovered a knack for creative writing, which she is excited to explore further. When she’s not in school, you can find her exploring the woods behind her house, sailing, discovering new music on Spotify, and having tea at her favorite local cafe. She is super psyched to graduate and head to college this fall of 2022, where she hopes to study environmental science and take some creative writing classes!