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The Bright Future (standard:drama, 1569 words)
Author: ArdvecheAdded: Nov 16 2000Views/Reads: 4251/1810Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A young man trapped by the expectations of others in a life he hates finds a way out.

Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

starting to grow in his mind. 

The letters still came from his parents, shorter now and less frequent
(he saw them rarely, returning home for Christmas and other holidays to 
perform for groups of their friends), containing brief sketches of the 
family's news; cold and bloodless.  A flat monologue always carrying 
the same message - always that message.  Still he reads them eagerly 
searching every word for something.  What?  He doesn't know.  So many 
questions all still unanswered. 

The restlessness of the audience calls his mind back from its
wanderings.  The piano grins up at him - issuing its challenge, goading 
him into a response.  His attention is dragged back to the present (and 
to the future a small voice inside his head reminds him, your future, a 
bright future) and to the packed auditorium.  All his life he has 
complied, he has given, given, given and tonight he gives again.  He 

In the morning the newspapers all carry reviews of the performance.  A
new word, one he has never heard before features heavily, `prodigy'.  
Is that what he is?  Intrigued, he looks the word up in a dictionary, 
and disgusted by what he finds hurls the offensive book from him.  He 
re-reads the article his gaze wandering down the column to the final 
line where it is arrested sharply.  The words glare balefully up at 
him: `Here is a boy with a very great gift, he shall undoubtedly enjoy 
a bright future'.  The page blurs and ripples, drifts in and out of 
focus.  Something in that line strikes at him, it both fascinates and 
repulses him.  He crumples the page into a ball and throws it after the 
battered dictionary. 


"Think of your future, you have a special talent that no one else has,
you can never be like the other children.  You are special."  The 
ghastly, hated voice merged with so many others. 


His voice small, weak, strained with the effort of holding back tears:
"I know."  His grandmother - dead.  The Headmaster had just informed 
him, calling him to his office from practice.  He stands with his back 
to the droning voice, not listening, gazing out at the children playing 
in the street, out through the strangely delicate diamond lattice of 
the window; the inconsequential, flimsy bars of his prison. 

"I'll leave you alone for a while, to gather your thoughts.  Remember
life goes on and you have a future ahead of you."  The door closes 
softly behind him.  The boy gives up the effort and hot, salt tears 
roll down his cheeks.  Slowly but gathering momentum, increasing in 
number as sixteen years of pain pour out.  He cries.  He cries for his 
grandmother and when he can cry no more for her he cries for himself, 
even though he does not fully realise it, he cries for himself.  And 
then he stops, suddenly, swabs ineffectually at his tear stained face 
with his sleeve and laughs, mirth brought on by his sudden insight and 
the knowledge it bestows upon him.  For a brief moment the terrible 
burden of his hideous compact is lifted from his shoulders. 

"Thank you," a muted, breathless phrase, barely audible in the warm
stuffiness of the study.  But his respite cannot last long, the grin 
shoves its way back to the surface of his thoughts, searing, red-hot 
through his brain, recalling to mind his end of the bargain.  The 
burden returns, the weight renewed. 


He slumped further forward, the evil grin of his nightmares taunting his
weakness, but he knew that the grin was wrong.   He knew that he was 
strong, stronger than the grin believed possible. "Think of your 
future," it screamed at him. 


It is now four years since the death of his grandmother, one year until
his majority. He plays for an audience of three hundred; he pours forth 
the passion of the music, feeling it, as he never has before, filling 
it with potency and moment.  He becomes a conduit for the music, 
allowing it to pass through him without recourse to thought, in a 
stream of radiance, giving everything to the music.  He finishes the 
piece with a flourish and slams the lid down, obscuring, forever, the 
malice of its grin.  He stands, turns to face his audience and smiles. 
For the first time it is a broad and genuine smile; he bows.  To 
tumultuous applause he stalks from the stage.  He marvels at the 
ignorance of the audience as he walks alone to his bare, empty house.  
They do not know the secret, but he does.  He knows everything he needs 
to know.  He is determined that the piano - which was his joy and his 
pleasure, his life but which became a monster which dogged his every 
waking hour and did not even release him during the hours of darkness - 
shall not become his living crypt. 


"Think of your future!"  A final enraged scream, the demon delirious
with anger.  It has been robbed, it has been cheated and beaten and now 
it too knows the secret.  It doesn't grin now, the knowledge prevents 

"I am." He breathes, slumping forward for the final time, into the
growing pool of blood on the floor. 

"I am."  He smiles and his eyes close. 

Now he can sleep without the nightmare grin taunting him, the bargain is
over.  The suffering of his tortured soul is at an end.  He gave all he 
could, he gave everything he had, and now he has no more to give. 

Now he can truly look forward to a Bright Future. 


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