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“Play it again,” Arata croaked.

            Yolandi’s frail arms hung down her side. “I want to go home.”

            “I said play it again.”

            He could tell by the black paint caked around her eyes and those hideous dark nails that she would be out in the streets instead of going home. Yolandi sniffed, raised the viola to her shoulder, and started to play Mozart’s 40th symphony.

            “Stand up straight,” Arata called.

Just fourteen years old and yet he could smell the smoke off her clothes.

“Start again!”

            Yolandi stomped one foot. Arata stared at her fingers. She was letting her nails grow.

            “Cut your nails and wipe that paint off them,” he growled. “Now!”

            Yolandi rolled her eyes, dropped the viola and bow on the sofa, and sauntered off. Arata took a deep breath debating whether or not to scold her on her way out, or wait for her to come back. He stared at the shiny instrument and a photograph on the table drew his eye. He saw a young woman with long hair and glasses stare back at him with a small smile. Arata tightened up, walked over to the photograph, and placed it facedown. He was in the middle of a lesson. He could ponder on it later.

Yolandi came back from the bathroom. Her nails were still painted. She glared at Arata and pulled her loose pants up.

“I have a lot of work to do,” she spoke. “I’m going home.”

“Your concert is in two weeks and you’re unprepared,” Arata mumbled. “Play it for me once with no mistakes and then you can go.”

Yolandi nods and starts to play again. Arata takes a deep breath. She would meet with boys. There was nothing kids hid in this town. They could be seen kissing and necking on the streets, smoking and cursing in the stores, laughing and fooling around after school. He won’t let Yolandi become like that. She may not be his daughter, but he can see his daughter in her, the daughter he was supposed to have before her mother, that whore…

            “You’re flat,” Arata calls. “Play it again.

            “I’m tired!”

            “I said play it again!”

            As she started to play, Arata closed his eyes. He listened to the music and in between the squeaks and flat notes, he could hear her anger in the piece. It resonated with his own as he thought of how his daughter will not be raised properly. She was living with a woman who turned to the comforts of the bottle, a woman who did not care what people think or what her daughter does.

            “Start over!” he shouted.

            The music sounded awful. She was still flat.


            The music stopped.

            “Start over!”

       Yolandi threw the viola to ground. She pulled her pants up, grabbed her backpack, and stormed out the house. Arata stared at the broken bridge and cracks along the side. His daughter broke her cello too.  

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