Words ©2017 Barbara Renel                              Images ©2017 Paul Taylor

Solo for Two

She drags her suitcase away from the bottom of the escalator and sits on it. She watches the metal stairs unfolding, disappearing, backs of heads going up to the Main Line station, faces coming down – an elaborate choreography of avoidance as people, pushchairs, bags, shoes, criss-cross in front of her, left to right, right to left, Victoria, District and Circle Lines, blue, green, yellow routes, exiting, entering.

The clasps of her suitcase unsnap. Inside, a black leather case, battered, curved. She takes out the violin, tightens the bow and waits for his introduction. She imagines the opening broken chords of his piano, chords that will gently ascend, descend, support her melody. And she plays their song, their story.

           

There’s an Egyptian limestone statue in the British Museum, two seated figures, a man and a woman, their clothing androgynous, height distinguishing one from the other. She’s holding one of his hands with both of hers. They are looking straight ahead, certain of their relationship.

           

Her melody is sustained, buoyant, floating on his piano. She ascends slowly adding a note, taking another step, moving further away, but always returning to the beginning, home. There is no drama in this music, the song serene. Their story is simple, timeless.

           

The provenance of the statue was unknown, the figures labelled anonymous. She has a photograph of her teenage-self standing next to it. When she re-visited the museum the figures were smaller than she remembered. Recently they have been identified as Horemheb and Amenia. It’s an important statue now, preserved in a protective glass case, unreachable.

       

She takes a breath and gently slows towards the final notes. She listens as the last sound echoes then disappears. She loosens her bow, returns her violin to its case and closes her suitcase, ready to move on.