Posted on: July 11th, 2009 Better

by Luc Reid

“My god, no; that was pitiful,” he said. “Why do you come to me here, if you are only going to sing like this? Perhaps I will go be sick now.”

There must have been a reason that Master Grenarde taught all of the greatest singers. But maybe the reason was that because he was such a conceited ass, nobody could believe he didn’t actually have something to be conceited about.

My back still ached from where Master Grenarde had whacked it with his cane to keep my posture straight. I glared at him.

“You don’t like me, Mademoiselle, is that it?” said Master Grenarde. “That doesn’t matter. I don’t like you either. You stay, you go, what does it matter to me? Some other churlish, self-absorbed child will take your place. Do you want to be liked? Then you should go to the city and become a prostitute. Everyone likes them, the prostitutes. They provide a public service and are easy to make friends with.”

I pressed my lips shut to keep from responding. He was like this often. I didn’t care. Once I got through his school, his certification would get me anywhere I wanted to go, and I would never have to see him again.

“Like your mother, eh? A prostitute, and everyone liked her, eh? Surely your father did, whoever he might be.”

I clenched my fist so hard, my nails drew blood. If I hit him, I would be out of the school. Oh, but how I wanted to hit him. He wasn’t just taunting; he knew about my family.

He bent down to my ear, his ridiculous, loopy white hair shifting on his head. “You feel that? The anger? Let it go. You must be nothing. Thoughts are nothing. Anger is nothing. Feeling comes, it goes, but there can be emptiness. You feel it? Get rid of it.”

I fought with myself, but obeying Master Grenarde was something I’d been forced to learn to do immediately, without thinking. It was the only way to achieve what he demanded we achieve. So I tried to let the anger go, to separate it from me like letting a balloon drift away, and suddenly I felt dizzy, like I was teetering on the edge of a bottomless pit.

“Now, sing the note again,” he whispered, and I sang it. I brought it up from the bottom of my chest and relaxed my throat and stretched my mouth to let it out. Something seemed to break in the pit of my stomach, and then the note was not coming from the bottom of my chest, but from someplace much, much deeper, someplace outside of me. The note rose through me and resonated through the room, through the tower, through the entire city. Around me the walls burst out in shifting, colored light, the roof burst apart, and power roared through me like water through a broken dam. I had let little trickles through before, but nothing like this. Nothing like this.

I held it as long as I could, until it faded. I was shaking, and my body was drenched with sweat. Pieces of the smashed roof lay where they had fallen around me and the Master. Scorch marks radiated out from where I stood on the floor. The Master pushed a piece of the roof aside with his cane.

“Better,” he said grudgingly.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

One Response to “Better”

  1. Rachel Green Says:
    July 11th, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I loved that. Fabulous reaction from the Master.

  2. Rachel Green Says:
    July 11th, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I loved that. Fabulous reaction from the Master.