Sunsets at Seaside(9)By: Addison Cole
“A date?” Jessica laughed. “It’s been even longer since I’ve had a date than since I’ve had friends like that. No, no date.”
“Well, then, why don’t you come by Wellfleet Harbor tonight and listen to our little concert. Do you know where that is?”
“Yes, I think so. That’s where the WHAT Theater is?” The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater was a small theater located beside the harbor.
“That’s right. Just down the road, across from the beach are tennis courts, and beside that there will be a tent set up where I’ll be playing in a string quartet. I’d love it if you would stop by and listen. There won’t be many people there. There never are.”
A string quartet? She debated making up plans to escape going, for fear of the music spurring her on to pick up her cello, but in a split second the excitement of seeing Vera play stole any chance she had at conjuring up an excuse. “I would love to go. Thank you. What instrument do you play?”
“The violin. I used to play with symphonies all over the world.”
Jessica’s pulse quickened. She could hardly believe that she’d found someone she had something in common with in the little community. She wanted to tell Vera that she played the cello, but she didn’t want to talk about her career, or worse, be asked to play something. The minute she picked up her cello, she’d remember the beauty of it against her, the vibration of the music, and her much-needed hiatus would be kaput. She was purposely not picking up her cello for a few days to separate herself from her love for it. She needed that space in order to make clearheaded decisions about whether this hiatus was temporary, or the beginning of a new direction altogether.
JESSICA SAT WITH her feet buried in the sand and a dozen red roses in her lap, which she’d bought to give to Vera. She looked out at the harbor while she waited for the quartet to begin playing, having arrived early with the hopes of enjoying the view of the bay and pulling her thoughts together before the concert. The air was crisp, and it carried the salty, fishy scent of the bay. She wrapped her cardigan around herself and drew her knees up to her chest. She’d come to the Cape once as a teenager with a friend. It had been the one and only time she’d lied to her father about where she was going, and she’d felt so guilty that she’d come clean a few days later. He’d grounded her for a week, but his vibrant blue eyes had betrayed his words. I’m disappointed in you, he’d said, but it felt like his eyes conveyed that he was proud of her for breaking the rules. She was used to disappointing her mother. It seemed every missed note was a disappointment. But her father had never been critical of her playing, or of her. And when he’d said he was disappointed, it had crushed her. The combination of his stern words and that look had confused her for years, until her first year at Juilliard, when her mother had been disappointed in one of her performances, and her father, standing beside her mother, had said, Next time you’ll do better, but his eyes clearly relayed the message, I’m so proud of you. At that moment she’d understood how very alike she and her father were—both willing to kowtow to her mother—and how very different they were from her mother.
She inhaled the sea air and blew it out slowly, sending her negative memories into the night. She’d been thinking about Jamie, the girls from the pool, and Vera, all afternoon and evening. For the first time in her life, she was free from the strings of performing that had bound her for so many years. She had time for friends, like the girls at the pool, or Vera, whom she was sure she could talk to for hours.
She also had time to date.
Date. She’d gone on a few dates in recent years, but without fail, her dates would go on and on about something and her mind would fall back to her need to practice. Or, maybe most embarrassingly, she’d simply rather spend time playing her cello than with any of the men she’d dated. But now, as the breeze brought the music from the string quartet to the beach across the street and the notes threaded their way around her like an old friend, images of Jamie and the idea of dating danced closely together.