Porcelain Skin

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The violin lying nestled at the bottom of the foam peanut-filled box is nicer than any violin I’ve ever owned. My fingers slide across the antique varnished maple and spruce wood that makes up the belly of the instrument. I carefully pull the cherished violin from its home to cradle it in my trembling hands.

Why would Trevor get me a violin when he knows that dream is dead? I can feel a wave of emotions rolling through my system, making its way towards my tear ducts. This isn’t going to be pretty. I shake my head, trying to push away the oncoming display of grief.

“Emma,” I hear Trevor whisper, and I can smell just a hint of the cinnamon Chapstick lingering on his lips.

I glance up to find him squatting in front of me. He still has a grin on his face, and I’m lost as to why he thinks this is a reason to smile.

“It’s a left-handed violin,” he tells me, and my eyes widen as I search his face.

I snap my gaze to the violin in my hands again to see that he is correct. “What—” I gasp, cutting myself off when I place the back of my fist to my mouth. “Trevor,” I look back up at him with desperation dancing in my wet eyes. “This is too much,” I croak.

I’m still in shock. He has so much hope in me. Does he honestly think I carry the motivation to relearn the violin with my opposite hand?

Truthfully, I don’t even know the answer to that question.

“Why don’t you give it a try?” he asks gently, as he reaches into the box, pulling out the bow and handing it to me. I just stare at the beautiful Scot Cao violin lying in my hands. I happen to know that this brand of violin is not cheap.

I nod before taking the bow in my left hand. I glance inside the box to find a cube of rosin and a small cloth. I glance back up at Trevor.

He just shrugs. “The guy at the store told me that stuff was important,” he explains.

I smile at his thoughtfulness before sliding the bow across the rosin. I hesitantly place the violin under the opposite side of my chin. It already feels uncomfortable. Everything is backward from what I’ve learned and practiced for years. I take a moment to tune it before pulling in a steadying breath of air.

I glide the two middle fingers of my right hand over the strings to form a simple “G”. I need to start with something easy so I’m not completely discouraged when I can’t play the more difficult chords.

Once my fingers are in position, I drag the bow gently across the strings. My eyes close on their own accord. The hum echoes beautifully throughout the empty space. It’s as if the lonely room is just craving for something to fill it, so I comply. I slowly arrange my fingers into “B”, and then practice gradually switching between the two chords. It’s not pretty, but it’s music, and at this point, I’m thrilled to be producing any type of melody, no matter how slow and dull.

My heart is swelling as I fill the vast space of the warehouse with the simple melody of a hopeful violinist. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I’ve lost my balance and strength. I need to build up the muscle memory in my fingers before anything will be able to flow the way I hope it will.

Several minutes pass as I slide my finger from one simple chord to another. My lips have curved upward into an involuntary smile. My mind is hundreds of miles away as I allow myself to be swallowed up inside of the vibrations of quivering violin strings. The room is alive, the air is dancing, and my aspirations are rising. I am far from where I need to be, but I have the kick I need now to try. I did it once when I was pushed by the need to overcome grief; I’m positive I can do it again when I’m being pushed by nothing more than pure passion.

I had no idea how badly I needed this. It’s like Trevor read the desires of my heart that even I was unaware of. He knows me far better than I ever realized. Everything around me is alive. The air is filled with molecules of notes bouncing off each other as they create combinations of full, lush chords. I’m stumbling around as my fingers fidget to find the right position, and frustration is not far from the surface. But, when my fingers fall into place finally, and the sound pours out, I know the effort was worth it.

I pull the bow slowly as I gradually lift it away from the strings, allowing the melody to fade into the space around me. Silence screams throughout the room, begging for a friend, but by this point my fingers are raw and I’m desperate for a break.

My shoulders sag slightly as I allow the power of what just took place to consume me completely. My emotions are running wild, like I’m going to explode. It feels like I’ve got a power generator hooked up to my heart, and it’s sending waves of extreme energy through my system. I’m frazzled, and ready to blow, and yet, something in me is completely calm—like the purr of a trickling stream, the tickle of a fall breeze, the hum of a sleeping child, or the sizzle of a crackling fire.

I want to take this mix of emotions that I’m feeling right now and weave them into a blanket, and then I’d wrap myself up in that blanket forever. It’s security and peace and freedom, all blended into one euphoric moment.

People who speak of wanting to freeze time are crazy. A single moment on repeat forever would become dull and meaningless. Living forever would be lonely. No, I wouldn’t want to freeze time, I’d want to freeze a feeling. I want to only know of happiness and love. Heartache would no longer exist. Sadness would fade from my memory. Despair would weaken its hold on me until it’s nothing but frail empty space that has no power over me.

If only...

My eyes pop open to find Trevor watching me intently. His smile has disappeared, only to be replaced with no expression at all. His jaw is tense, but he doesn’t appear angry. It’s almost like he’s mulling something over in his mind.


“I’m in love with you,” he says suddenly, cutting me off.

I don’t even notice the interruption because my mind is whirling with the five words he just uttered. He doesn’t move; just continues to watch me. His jaw flexes before he stuffs his hands into his front pockets and looks down at the ground.

He’s nervous.

He just said the most important words in the world to me, but at the moment I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t even respond. Too much is going on inside my chaotic box of emotions, and I’m not sure how to decipher what I’m feeling. So much has happened in the span of three months, and now that this moment is finally happening it feels overwhelming, sending my mind into a state of paralysis.

With a shuddering breath, I completely crumble into myself. The wave of tears that I’d tried so hard to deflect finally break through. I have to set the violin back into the box before I risk damaging it.


I feel like I’ve been standing at the edge of a cliff for months, trying to balance my inner turmoil in order to prevent it from spilling over the side. Trevor’s declaration was all the push I needed. He feels what I feel, and it’s shattering me completely. I’m being broken in the best way possible. My barriers have been defeated, and I’m standing before the man I love completely open—emotionally naked.

I have no choice but to surrender.

In that moment I feel the sobs that have been fighting for release break through, just as Trevor’s arms engulf me. He rubs circles into my back as he kisses the top of my head.

There’s just so much going on in this moment, and I’m angry that I’m not jumping up and down in hysterics after his confession. I’m happy, so happy that my brain can’t even figure out how to respond. It’s like every dream has come true all at once and it’s mind-boggling.

I slip my hands around his waist as I bury my face into his cologne-scented chest. I know my tears are doing a wonderful job of staining his sweater, but I don’t even care right now. It’s just water anyway—water he caused. I smile into the material as I take in a deep breath, trying to get control of my vocal chords.

“I’ve loved you forever,” I mumble shakily into his sweater.

The feeling of his arms tightening around me is the only indication that he heard me. We stay this way until I finally pull myself together. I laugh into his chest before backing away and rubbing my damp eyes.

“This is the best moment of my life,” I tell him while rubbing the tears from my cheeks with the sleeve of my sweater. “Thank you.”

“You deserved to be treated special,” he says as he wraps the fingers of his left hand into the fingers of my right. “You’re incredible, and I’m sorry about what you’ve been through, but I’m hoping you can start fresh here and now, and...” he pauses, and I squeeze his hand to encourage him to finish his thought.

“And?” I urge gently when he doesn’t say anything.

He smiles at the ground before aiming his gaze back on me. “Be mine... please?”

I just stare at him for a moment. “Be yours, as in ‘your girlfriend’?” I ask carefully, even though I know what he meant. If things keep going in the direction that they have been so far, then I’ll be married before dawn.

“Yes. Please be my girlfriend,” he laughs, but I can read the anxiety in the lines of his face and the panic in the movement of his eyes as they jump between my own.

I laugh as I wrap my arms around his neck. “If you hadn’t asked me soon then I was going to have to resort to begging,” I tell him, and snuggle into him as I listen to his laughter vibrate in his chest.

“Well, I’m glad I beat you to it,” he teases. “I don’t need you taking control again like you did in the Batcave.”

And with that, he leans down to seal the night with a cinnamon sweet kiss.

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