I opened your cello for the first time since you died. It’s been lying there in the corner like a body where you left it. I used to think of it as your mistress sometimes, because of its shape and because you were always carrying it around everywhere and it occupied such an important part of your life. A few times in the midst of fighting, you told me you were going to destroy it to make me happy. I had to hold you back because you would get that angry you might’ve done it. You also tried to sell it a few times though I always thought you should just keep it. It has a good sound.
So, I opened it just now- had a lot of trouble with all of the latches. I moved things too quickly perhaps, not taking the time to realize it was your hands that last closed it, and your hands that last placed the bow in its place and the little red handkerchief that you used to clean the bow I think. It’s amazing how little I know about the cello though I watched you carry that case around for eleven years. I remember when you forgot it once and I volunteered to bring it to your subway stop by your work because I was at home. You were so worried that I was going to somehow forget it on the train. You warned me that it had almost happened to you a few times. You were also just worried about me carrying it. But I did. And I remember the strange new identity that immediately came with it. It’s hard to miss, so I felt that instantly I was the girl with the cello- a cellist. You were so relieved to see me with the cello, and so grateful that time.
I played a few notes and took out the bow and tried to play a little bit with the cello still lying there in the case. It sounded like death. I placed my fingers on the strings and moved the bow. No good. But still the sound of this particular cello is yours. I can recognize it compared to other instruments so it was still nice to hear. I tried to find the dampit that I bought you last Christmas and had some trouble locating it- but then I found it. I’d seen you so many times take that snake-like thing, but not really known what you were doing with it. Now I had to do it. I took it to the sink and wet it, squeezed it out a bit and placed in back in the cello. I had a little trouble closing the latches again. It’s October and the heat’s been on a lot so I’m not sure how often I’m supposed to do this- but it keeps it from warping.
I’ve also learned from one of your musician friends that I need to make sure your cello is played to maintain it well. Maybe once a month I think he said. I’ve gotta figure this one out soon because it’s already been a while now.
Audrey has said it’s her cello now, but I wonder- will she really play and take lessons? I’d never want her to feel she has to step into your shoes in any way. How long will I keep watering your cello and how long will I keep it? Really it feels like I’m just keeping it for you…like house sitting, watering plants, feeding the cat…waiting for the owner to return.