Middle Child Press: Lady of the Bow ~ Violins, a Prologue


Lady of the Bow ~ Violins, a Prologue

A/N ~ This is an original fiction project I began on my fanfiction blog, Dark & Twisty.  It's part of a writing challenge I issued to keep my creative juices flowing.

El Tajín, Mexico
November 20, 2413

El Tajín
"One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and - I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the "Devil's Trill", but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me."
~ Guiseppe Tartini, (1692–1770)
There was a saying these days in archaeological circles that the newer technology became, the older the discoveries.

Ironically, it wasn't the new which interested Aarón Jaramillo; it was the old.  Scholars in Mexico had long thought they knew all the great secrets of El Tajín until 2410, when Dr. Tenoch Licea discovered a new way to scan hundreds of thousands of meters below sea level with a satellite probe.  Once that technology came out, everyone from the mining and drilling industries to retired archaeologists took it and ran with it.

And though some mining and oil companies got lucky in Central Africa and Southeast Asia, the scholastic society across the entire globe found themselves questioning the history of humankind all over again.

The lopsided temple Aarón sat in now was a good thousand meters below El Tajín.  Most of the pillars had eroded, along with reliefs on the walls.  The stone floors had had to be put back in place; they still bore large cracks and required great caution to traverse.  The air was still but oddly pure; the deep rich smell of moist earth filled the ancient rooms.

And the mood and acoustics were perfect to practice music.

Aarón favored the violin; he'd been playing since he was ten, long before his parents had coerced him into studying archaeology.  He was currently trying to master Tartini's "Devil's Trill Sonata"; namely, he was trying to perform it entirely by memory.  After twelve years of lessons he still struggled, and blamed his archaeological studies.  He'd wanted to attend a music conservatory in Texas, but his parents had made it abundantly clear he'd have to fund that dream on his own.

So here he was, stuck in El Tajín, scraping for practice time between excavations.

In a way he was oddly grateful; the acoustics here were superior to those of the music hall at his university, and since he often came to work two hours early, Aarón had the whole site to himself.  The ceilings were high enough to give the music room to roam, yawn, and stretch.  But the earthen surroundings also had a way of absorbing sound, as though taking in the music and becoming one with the notes.

Were he to be honest with himself, Aarón had a secret, almost subconscious fantasy that these old broken statues (only one was still intact), would heal and be moved by his music.  Dr. Jorge Gutierrez, his current thesis adviser, had deduced the temple was built during the earlier days of the Olmec era, but this site appeared to have been swallowed by some sort of natural disaster.  Almost everything within the temple - and they weren't even entirely sure it was a temple - had been destroyed.

Olmec statue
Dr. Gutierrez had often lectured that statues were also a bit off in design; Olmec statues were short, squat, with large heads.  Yet these statues were a bit taller, and their facial features slightly more realistic.  The one which was still intact appeared to be female, but other than that, pretty much nothing was known.  The fading glyphs were clearly Olmec and just as indecipherable, but the old professor wondered if they'd stumbled across a precursor to the Olmec Civilization.

Aarón typically yawned during these lectures.  Mayan, Incan, Olmec, Aztec - they might as well have been all the same to him.  It would have been one thing if his adviser had discussed their music, but the subject never came up.  Aarón found that odd; he'd thought everyone would be more interested in how these people entertained themselves, what moved and inspired them, what their instruments sounded like.  But instead everyone showed up to work, eager to start carbon dating and photographing, throwing about scientific terms and theories rather than stopping to enjoy the peaceful quality of sound within the halls.

Yes, there was mystery and yes, there was much to be learned, but still...there was life in these old chambers.  Someone had built these rooms; people had touched these walls and floors; some sculptor, some dreamer had lovingly caressed these broken statues, immortalizing whoever it was that mattered to them.  There was art behind the science, emotion behind the math, imagination behind the history.

Why couldn't anyone see that?

The young violinist shook his head; he was screwing up again.  The notes he'd so diligently memorized seemed to determined to slip his mind.  Aarón retuned his A-string as he recalled the tale behind the infamous violin sonata, and how when he woke, the composer hurriedly attempted to record what he remembered, though the music kept trying to slip away.

Aarón sighed.  Old man...I know exactly how you feel.

Next ~ Angélica

A/N ~ "Aarón" is Spanish for "light-bringer."