Love And Music

Entry by: Alobear

13th January 2015
Love and Music

The music pounded through Emma’s chest and skull. The venue was crowded and dark, pinpoints of light scattered through the crowd as eager audience members raised their mobile phones to record bits of the show.

The man standing at centre stage had longish pale blond hair, artfully designed to appear carelessly disarrayed. He was thin to the point of looking ill, in Emma’s opinion, his slender body outlined by a thin black shirt, tight black trousers culminating in yellow wellington boots, of all things.

He was singing something about black roses, the lyrics ridiculous but faintly familiar from the many times she had heard the song emanating from her daughter’s bedroom in recent months.

Emma scanned the crowd by reflex, a momentary panic at not seeing what she was looking for quickly quashed when movement to one side drew her eye to Tabitha. Her daughter was standing with one arm wrapped around the shoulders of her best friend, Kayley. Tabitha’s right hand met Kayley’s left, together forming a heart shape raised towards the stage, their forearms encased in black and purple striped fingerless gloves. The stripes matched those in Tabitha’s hair, which fell half over her face. The style irritated Emma, but she supposed it was better than Kayley’s bright turquoise, shaved over one ear. The purple and turquoise were the only colours that broke up their otherwise entirely black outfits – tight but not revealing clothes, and large clompy boots.

Emma had to smile at their obvious enjoyment of the gig. Tabitha had begged and begged her to accompany them – under sixteens were only allowed to attend with a responsible adult, though contemplation of that description turned Emma’s smile into an actual snort of amusement.

If either of them could ever be described as responsible, it was Tabitha. She might sport the fashion and music taste of the emo crowd, but it was an affectation, rather than a true calling. She played sullen and remote at school, cultivating an air of condescension towards those who mocked her clothes and hair, while revelling in her independence and laughing with Kayley at those who took the scene too seriously. Emma knew the two girls had far more emotional intelligence than she herself had had at their age, and she and Kayley’s mother had no concerns that their daughters might follow their emo leanings further than some truly dreadful poetry and a penchant for black.

And, of course, their shared love for this weird band. Emma hadn’t seen any harm in the girls attending the gig, and Kayley’s mother had been delighted to be off the hook, so here they all were; the girls jumping up and down with glee, while Emma reviewed the twists and turns that had led her there.

Rank stupidity and a total disregard for the potential consequences of her actions, when she was not much older than Tabitha was now, had turned into the glorious adventure that raising Tabitha had become. Lord knew, it hadn’t been easy. At sixteen, she had thought her life was over; and, in every way she had thought important at the time, it had been. Gossiping and sleepovers and homework had been replaced by nappies and sleeplessness and parenting classes – she wouldn’t have survived without the support of her parents, but they had never allowed her to shirk her new responsibilities.

She had been hurled into the adult world of work, parenthood and financial concerns far too early and had had many low moments; sometimes crying herself to sleep over her lost childhood and all the missed opportunities that were passing her by. But, through it all, she had never blamed Tabitha. In fact, the one true reward for all the pain and hard work had been Tabitha herself.

Emma was amazed at how intelligent, sensible and well-adjusted Tabitha had grown up to be, and was firmly of the opinion that no credit for this was due to her. The presentation of the events that had led to Tabitha’s conception had been tricky to navigate – emphasising the importance of avoiding the same fate without ever allowing Tabitha to feel she regretted her existence.

And, oh, how could she regret such a wonderful, miraculous addition to her life? After the discomfort of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, with always an underlying terror of the future lurking, Tabitha’s birth had released such an incredible flow of love that Emma had been awestruck by her own ability to feel so much directed at such a small new person. There had been times when Emma had felt overwhelmed by her task, and times when she had wondered if she could ever succeed, but not once had she wished Tabitha out of existence.

She looked over at her daughter again, vicariously basking in the carefree abandon with which Tabitha gave herself over to the music. She couldn’t understand the appeal herself – it was certainly loud enough but whatever emotive message it carried for the girls, Emma could not hear it. But, in that moment, being the albeit indirect provider of such joy to her daughter, she felt it a small price to pay back even just a little of the joy Tabitha had provided to her, and she would not have wanted to be anywhere else.