| "Natural Arcs"
by Adhara Law
(c) 1998 Adhara Law. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced
without express written permission by the author.
***Author's Note: This received a rating of 10,10,10 on Celeste's Reviews (from a.s.s.m).
Janos Zilahy entered the room with a grace and assuredness that oozed from
every pore of his skin. His ageless face, canvassed by the deep butter glow
of tanned skin and framed by dark brown strands of short hair, exuded a quiet
confidence. He immediately commandeered the front of the classroom as his
eyes touched on the six of us in turn. When he got to me, cellist number
four, I felt as if he'd extracted knowledge about me that I never intended
him to have.
"First," he began, his strong Hungarian accent evident even in his first
word, "I want to see your technique. I want to see how you play."
The bow in my hand began to shake slightly. I knew that I wouldn't be in a
master class without talent, but the idea of playing before him still had me
scared. I had three people before me to get over my nervousness. I tightened
my bow with trembling fingers.
Janos nodded slowly, fingers on lips and brow creased in concentration as the
first student, a at our university on scholarship from Norway,
began the Dvorak Concerto. I listened intently, trying to lose my nervousness
in the piece. When he'd finished, Janos began pointing out the flaws in his
technique and promised that he'd soon try to correct them. He moved onto the
My attention drifted toward the piece I was to play for him. I tried to
remember the comments he'd made on each student's technique so that I
wouldn't make the same mistakes myself. My palms began to sweat, making my
worry that the bow would slip. I wiped them discreetly on my jeans.
I looked up to see Janos' eyes, once again, on me. "Olivia," I replied,
trying to hide the nervousness that was wracking my insides.
His eyes connected with mine as he returned my slight smile. "Please, begin."
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The sharp aroma of the cello's
ancient wood wrapped itself around me. In an instant, I felt the hesitation
and nervousness seep out of me as the beauty of Tchaikovsky's Pezzo
Capriccioso took over. Every atom in my body devoted itself to playing the
piece. I'd hardly noticed time passing; before I knew it, I was finished.
I raised my eyes to his and noticed the slight frown he wore. "We have much
to work on," he said with a nod.
My stomach crashed through me to the floor. I laid my bow carefully on my leg
as I tried to hide my face under the pretense of fixing the unruly curls of
my long hair. He moved onto the next student, a nineteen-year-old who
showed exceptional promise.
When we'd all finished our chosen pieces, he lectured on general techniques
that he said we'd all need to master in order to progress any further. He
waved his arms flamboyantly as he gestured, his accent turning his words into
poetry. I avoided his direct gaze through the entire lecture.
An hour passed, and the class was over. I loosened my bow and carefully but
hurriedly placed my cello in its case, trying not to be the last student out
of the classroom. I wouldn't be so lucky.
"Olivia," his voice called.
I turned to look up at him, trying not to blush.
"Don't put your cello away just yet."
My stomach jumped, but I took the cello back out of the case.
"Sit here." He gestured to one of the chairs. I did as he said, placing my
cello in front of me. He stood behind me.
I hesitated, but resisted the urge to turn and look at him. The tones floated
around us as I played the same piece I'd played in class.
I felt the air surrounding me warm slightly, the clean scent of a
newly-washed body filling my senses as he leaned in and placed a hand on my
bow arm, his other hand on my left wrist. The gentle pressure of his fingers
as he guided me into the right positions opened the floodgates to my
adrenaline. I could hear his breathing close to my ear, so calm and even
compared with my own.
"Natural arcs," he said quietly and soothingly. I swallowed hard. "The body
moves in natural arcs. You must let yourself be loose."
The bow glided across the strings as I desperately tried not to falter, tried
not to make any mistakes in the piece. His hands barely gripped my wrist and
arm as I continued to play. I let my arms relax, as he'd suggested, trying to
move in the natural arcs he talked about. I soon lost myself in the piece, in
the playing, in the beauty of the sound of the cello and the feel of his
hands on my skin. His own calm and confidence seemed to pass from his hands
into my pores and into me, replacing my fear and doubt with only the nirvana
of playing. When I finished, I felt like I awoke from a deep sleep.
His hands moved from my wrist and arm to rest on my shoulders as he
straightened behind me. "You have a great talent," he said. "How are
"Twenty two," I replied, wishing I had a glass of water to relieve my dry
"When I was your age, ten years ago, I was only slightly more progressed than
you," he said, walking to the front of the room to put away his own
instrument. I could feel my cheeks burning as I packed my cello carefully
into its case, the metal buckles snapping quickly and loudly into place.
"Thank you, Mr. Zilahy," I said.
"That is so formal. Please call me Janos."
He smiled at me, his eyes dark and intent, and I returned it as I left the
classroom for home.
* * *
I found it difficult the next day to pay attention to his words as he spoke
to the six of us again. Instead I let his accent wrap itself around me in
tenuous folds of liquid sound as I focused on his dark and penetrating eyes.
This time, he discussed repertoire. I heard him mention Haydn's C Major
Concerto and watched as he began the piece. The cello seemed to respond to
him like a cobra to a snake charmer as he lovingly drew the music out of it
with his bow. I sat in awe as his focused talent sang out from him to fill
the room. I had to remember to breathe.
He played various pieces for us that day, making comparisons and contrasts
with each individual work, adding insightful notes about the composers. The
class was over before I was ready for it to end.
I didn't hurry to put away my cello as the other five students filed out of
the classroom. Instead I found myself lingering as Janos put away his own
instrument, noticed how his hands lovingly cradled the curve of the neck. I
saw him walk toward me from the corner of my eye.
"May I see your cello?"
My breath caught in my throat as I raised the instrument up for him to
examine. He stood close, making my skin tingle and my heart race, as he ran a
hand over the neck. "It's beautiful. Very well made," he said, his voice
whispering against my cheek as he leaned even closer to me. I turned my face
"Have you ever noticed," he began, so quiet that I had to strain to hear him
even though his lips were inches from mine, "that the cello resembles a
woman?" He leaned the cello back against the chair. I felt his hands press
against my waist and move down slowly over my hips. "Beautiful, full
curves...a lender neck...and when you draw your bow across her strings in
just the right way," he said, his accent and his words intoxicating, "you
can make her sing with pleasure."
His lips grazed my cheek, from me a small gasp, and laid tiny kisses
along my skin to my own lips. He kissed me, my lips gently, his
tongue circling around mine. I sank into it completely in heady delirium.
He drew back, unwilling it seemed, and ran his hands up my arms, gripping me
tightly and pulling me toward him. "Olivia, will you come to the concert
tonight?" He asked.
I had known for weeks that he was giving a concert as well as the master
classes, and it would have taken much to stop me from going. Now, it would
take death. I nodded, afraid to speak for fear of breaking the ethereal
thread between us.
"Meet me backstage before the concert." He kissed me again and turned, taking
his cello case and walking from the room.
* * *
My heels clicked along the polished wooden floor as I made my way backstage,
eyes searching for Janos. The smell of performance drenched the concert
hall -- the dust of the ancient velvet curtains, the layers of polish on the
worn wooden floor. I saw him gathered with a small group of other musicians;
the silk of the blue dress I wore swirled around my legs as I walked to him.
When he saw me, he broke into a wide smile and opened his arms, seeming to
completely forget the people he was with. "Olivia..." He said as the dark
blue of his eyes roamed over my body. He took my hand and led me toward a
dark corner. The cacophony of sounds -- musicians warming up, people shouting
and talking -- nearly drowned out his voice as he leaned into me, his hands
pulling my hips toward his.
"Do you have any idea what it is I'd like to do with you?" His voice dripped,
his hands sliding up to my breasts. The darkness of the corner hid his secret
My voice felt weak. "I think I have some idea," I replied, my mind running
over the possibilities.
"The second piece I'm going to play tonight...you will know." He licked his
lips. "It begins slowly, kissing you and teasing you gently as the bow draws
across the strings. But it cannot hold back, and so soon the tempo increases,
sliding over your skin and thrusting into you until it must release itself,
and then it fades slowly as it floats away."
A small moan crept out of my throat as his words seemed to dance over my skin
while his hands pulled me closer to him. He kissed me deeply and said,
"Think of me." With a touch of his finger to my lips, he walked away.
I found my seat and settled in, my pulse racing, my hands fumbling with the
program. The lights went down.
My concentration on the first piece was nonexistent; I had no idea it was
over until I heard the applause. And then he began the second piece. I was
His cello sang in ecstasy as he drew the bow over its strings. I listened as
the tendrils of music wrapped themselves around me, imagined his expert and
delicate hands his bow across my own strings. My skin tingled as I
imagined the music as an extension of him, as if the two hundred audience
members didn't exist, and it was only him and I in the immense expanse of the
The tempo picked up, his bow playing faster across the cello's strings while
his eyes squeezed shut in apparent ecstasy. Each note seemed to nip at my
skin and slide in between my legs, making me wet with desire for the music.
I ached for it to go faster, for his hand to draw the bow more sharply across
the strings. I begged inwardly to have his hands pressing against my neck to
elicit just the right notes and tones. My fingers gripped the silk skirt of
my dress tightly in an effort to keep them from slipping between my thighs
to pluck my own strings and bring my own sonata to its conclusion. And when
the music crescendoed to its end, I breathed deeply and sank into my chair,
aching to be alone with him.
The concert ended and hundreds of people filed for the exits. I made my way
through the bulge of the crowd to stand in the cool November air, the night
enveloping me like a chilled blanket. Then I heard his voice calling me from
the other side of the building, away from the crowd.
I walked quickly to him. He met me halfway and gripped my hands in his. His
breath was quick and sharp. "Do you have your cello with you?" He said. I
nodded. "Good. Come with me."
I retrieved my cello from the car and walked swiftly to meet him at his. He
stood waiting, patiently but eagerly, and ushered me into the front seat. We
left the concert hall, driving in silence. I had no illusions about where we
were going. I was desperate to get there.
The hotel he was staying in was a four star, and his room was spacious, warm,
and inviting. He closed the door behind me and wrapped an arm around my waist
while his hand moved my hair, exposing my neck. He nibbled my earlobe as his
hands found the zipper of my dress, adeptly sliding it off of me. I turned to
face him and put my hands on his face, hungrily on his lips as I
kissed him. I could feel his breath come in ragged gasps instead of the
regular rhythm in which we both lived, as separate as every other aspect of
our lives were. I needed to play him. In a few moments, I stood naked before
him while his hands explored the skin along my back, hips, and waist.
"Play for me," he whispered.
I smiled and pulled away from him, reaching to take my cello from its case.
I placed the chair from the desk in the emptiest spot in the room and sat
down. The cool wood of the cello tingled against my naked thighs as I picked
up my bow and placed my fingers against the slender neck. Without thinking of
what piece I should chose, I simply began to play. As the notes poured out of
me, slow and sensuous, I felt the low vibration of the cello's singing
against my thighs. I pushed against it as if it were the hips of a lover. The
music filled the corners of the room. This was no Tchaikovsky or Haydn. This
I felt him move to stand behind me, his hands gently pulling my long hair
from my shoulders to lay straight along my back. His fingers delicately slid
along the tendons in my neck. I played.
He knelt down behind the chair and ran his hands from my shoulders to my
arms, and gently let them fall to my thighs. I played.
His fingers probed the space between my legs, finding the wetness and warmth
and sinking into it. I played.
His hand found my hard nipple and squeezed gently, rolling it between his
fingers as the tempo of the music picked up. I played.
His mouth tasted my shoulders and neck and nipped at the space behind my
collarbones, making me moan in pleasure. I played.
He leaned in to my ear. "Let the music take you," he said. The whisper of his
words as they swam in his liquid voice brought a small whimper from me as I
drew the bow faster across the strings, letting my fingers find the right
notes, the notes that took me as he took me. His fingers spread the warm
wetness from inside me up to my clit, where he pressed and played, finding
my own right notes.
"Let's finish the sonata," he said. He moved in front of me and took the
cello from my hands, leading me to the bed. I laid back as he covered my
body with his. "Natural arcs," he said. "The body moves in natural arcs." His
hands traced the curves of my hips as he slid into me, making our bodies the
metronome to our music. I rocked my hips upward in time with his, meeting
each thrust with my own. The humid slickness of his skin under my hands felt
like the warmth of wood against me, and I devoured the vibration of his
heaving back as he breathed, harder and heavier. The tempo grew faster in
time with our breathing, until we both came in a mutual crescendo, in
Natural arcs. I have mastered the technique.
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