I was getting pretty bored with the party, my own damned party at that, when Layla Cross came out of the back bedroom naked with my saxophone strapped across her chest.
The guys who weren’t already halfway to getting laid, hooted, whistled, sank their backs against the wall like, “finally!” Kyle Hammond lifted his beer in salute.
Layla tongued her lips, trembled the reed and blew.
The low lamp light graced the sax and glowed it. She played that thing like some kind of jazz queen. She slaughtered the indie snore I had insisted out of the stereo, that guy, the scruffy singer song- writer I loved, who I lusted after in a thrift shop way. All that emotion, that vulnerability that cracked and crested out of his unassuming voice, just shit compared to Layla, and that sax, my sax cradled between her breasts. The vibrations that sang out of that thing were like nothing that was possible.
The bell hung over her, the middle of her, there, open, melody lifting out and up. How many times had I fingered that instrument, methodically, chaste. If I could finger it now.
“Oh honey.” Melinda Barber cooed in pity, plucked the throw from the back of the sofa, and parachuted it over Layla’s shoulders like some kind of rescue.
I pulled it off, pushed Melinda Barber out of the way. “Let the girl play.”
The guys clapped. I didn’t do it for them.
Kyle Hammond, he was going to be my boyfriend. I watched him watch Layla, his eyes caressing, his thoughts slowly peeling the saxophone away. I couldn’t blame him, I was doing it too. Kyle who?
When my parents came home, so much earlier than they were supposed to, they were like, “What the hell is going on here? What the fuck is going on here?”
The other guys, and girls, half-naked and half drunk, skittered out of the house feeble, scared, squash-able.
Layla stayed and played like her heart was on fire, like nothing else was happening, like my parents weren’t dancing around her, trying to get her attention, trying to stop her without touching her, like they weren’t yelling at me to help. Yelling at me. “What kind of perverted shit are you? What kind of drugs are you numbed and tranced on this time?”
God, I thought,God, just keep Layla playing, just let me watch her a little bit longer, just let me watch her forever, because this is it, because the rest of life is nothing.
Caroljean Gavin is a wanderer who is right now, at this very moment, finishing up an MFA at Queens University of Charlotte. She lives, writes, and plays ukulele in North Carolina with her shark-loving son. Her work has appeared in The Noctua Review and the 2011 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology.
Photo by centaur101, used by permission. See more of his work on DeviantArt.