Sap

 

Rosin: a gem, a jewel, a talisman, a cylinder of translucent gold wrapped in velvet, the perfect size to pocket, to palm, but really it’s sap, it’s just sap.

Without it, there’s no sound, a bow flailing uselessly over strings. With it, there’s friction, there’s grip, a vibration descending through the bridge to the soundpost, amplified by the body and out through the f-holes: a whisper, a shriek, a voice.

Rosin: slick as glass, but if you touch it your fingers stick, and when you stroke it along the bow hairs, they turn white with powder. Alchemy? Magic? Don’t touch it, your teacher said in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, but of course you did, you do, look at it, how can you not?

Tonight you should be practicing, but when he knocks you open the door, you let him in. He carries a bottle but he’s drunk already, you can tell by his eyes, that sloppy grin. You set the violin in its case, and the bow. Rosin, unwrapped, on the music-stand ledge. The stand wobbles, most of them do; you wanted to tighten it but didn’t have a tissue to protect your fingers from the grease around the nut, so later, you thought, you’ll fix it later.

But my girlfriend, he’ll say later.

Rosin: rock hard yet surprisingly brittle. Tomorrow the glee club will trample the remnants, sticky fragments crushed into the threadbare rehearsal-room carpet, beneath their Docs and mocs and Crocs, to slivers, to powder, to dust.

But tonight, tonight it’s there on the stand, the stand you thought was sturdy enough. You look up at it as you lie beneath him on the floor, smelling beer and sweat and, faintly, pine, and you think of sap, of amber, of something preserved for all time, the life and blood of this thing between the two of you – It isn’t love, he’ll say later, without looking at you, the last time you speak – captured in its honey-warm glow. Teetering on the edge before an outflung arm – yours? his? – bumps the stand, and it falls, and it shatters.

 

10 Comments

  1. Paul Beckman

    Didi-Loved this piece. Always thought rosin was for baseball players and pool sharks.
    Love this: “Rosin: rock hard yet surprisingly brittle. Tomorrow the glee club will trample the remnants, sticky fragments crushed into the threadbare rehearsal-room carpet, beneath their Docs and mocs and Crocs, to slivers, to powder, to dust.”and of course this: “– It isn’t love, he’ll say later, without looking at you, the last time you speak – captured in its honey-warm glow. Teetering on the edge before an outflung arm – yours? his? – bumps the stand, and it falls, and it shatters”.

    • Didi Wood

      Thank you, Paul! I knew about the baseball rosin bag … pool sharks, too? Do they put it on the tip of the cue, instead of chalk?

  2. Gay Degani

    Didi-This is fantastic. I love everything about this. Perfect. Send it to someplace really really good.

    • Didi Wood

      Thank you, Gay! I ‘m really bad about submitting and appreciate the encouragement. I have a pile of stories I should probably send somewhere … sometime … ;p

  3. Kella

    Didi, what a pleasure to read. Wow. There’s such beauty and grace and emotional tension which circles so beautifully around the rosin–what it is, what it means, how it creates friction, both for the violin and the story. And yet, there’s also an understated, otherworldly knowingness: “…but really it’s sap, it’s just sap.” So many incredible lines that move this jazzy piece along (the artful craft appears improvisational):

    “Don’t touch it, your teacher said in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, but of course you did, you do, look at it, how can you not?” *yesssss, why do teachers like this one not understand this? (so says the former teacher)
    “The stand wobbles, most of them do…”
    “…the stand you thought was sturdy enough.”
    “You look up at it as you lie beneath him on the floor, smelling beer and sweat and, faintly, pine, and you think of sap, of amber, of something preserved for all time, the life and blood of this thing between the two of you…” (Phew, that ending kills me and was surprising, but not in a cheesy or artificial way at all. So memorable and real. The “it” in the final line is the rosin, right? Just curious.)

    Thanks for sharing your writing with us, Didi. I’m so excited to see this piece beyond this workshop. It’s a serious gem.
    ~Kella

    • Didi Wood

      Thank you, Kella! Yes, the final “it” is the rosin … I should figure out how to make that clearer.

  4. Tommy Dean

    Love this opening, the heavy concentration on the object, the constant renaming if it, giving it weight, power, even as the narrator calls it just sap! How an object is more powerful in different states!

    and now the violin (?) which adds more weight to the rosin, because now it can contain beauty and feeling, and nostalgia and it can move people’s hearts!

    “Don’t touch it, your teacher said in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, but of course you did, you do, look at it, how can you not?” love the subtle introduction of the character, this second-person point of view!

    “wanted to tighten it but didn’t have a tissue to protect your fingers from the grease around the nut, so later, you thought, you’ll fix it later.” yes, love how this increases the tension, the mystery, the unwillingness to touch grease, but the love of touching the rosin! Here’s the guiding metaphor for this piece!

    “Rosin: rock hard yet surprisingly brittle. Tomorrow the glee club will trample the remnants, sticky fragments crushed into the threadbare rehearsal-room carpet, beneath their Docs and mocs and Crocs, to slivers, to powder, to dust.” This is a perfect paragraph!

    And yes to the destruction of the rosin, the destruction of their relationship, the harmony of this rosin as it’s build up and then dashed in this story! Everyone is right this is a big time winner!

    • Didi Wood

      Thank you, Tommy! It was such a pleasure to think about objects in stories in a different way, and to actually finish something for a change (which may be the main reason I sign up for workshops – peer pressure!). Thanks for a great weekend! 🙂

  5. Roberta Beary

    Didi,

    I felt the raw power of the story.

    Love the way it’s linked to the violin, the music stand, the school, other students, and the non-boyfriend-boyfriend.

    I read ‘Rosin’ as the title even though I know it’s Sap, as that worked better for me.

    A beautiful piece!

    • Didi Wood

      Thank you, Roberta! I nearly went with “Rosin” for the title, and might end up there ….

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