My Sister the Violin by

Rita Bound orchestrates disdain. With her eyes rolled skywards, and a well-timed shake of her curls, she contempts, 

‘Your divvy sister’s just bust my eardrums with her screeching.’

 Rita’s henchwomen parody impressions, in stereo, to the raucous appreciation of the ‘William Green Comprehensive’ school’s dinner queue. I’m consoled by the knowledge their matching blond perms are simultaneously being impregnated by the horror of boiled cabbage.

 If this wasn’t 1984 and I wasn’t thirteen, I’d tell Rita to change her tune.

‘My sister is a world-class violin – and doesn’t need you lot picking on her.’

Instead, I turn butchers-shop red and stare at the toes of my Clark’s indestructibles, wishing my sister was ‘normal’. My sister isn’t there to be daggered by Rita Bound’s insults. She’s making her own music with all the other special instruments that nobody wants to hear. Aside from the violinist, D5 are mostly a percussion band. There’s a jamboree of timpani: whirrs, tics, banging, whistles, and a massive kerr-bam when desks are overturned – big cymbals really. Mr Jenkins does everything to conduct D5. If the instruments won’t play in tune, he’ll even use his baton to sing stripes across their hands. 

My sister would never say she was a violin. She hates bows and if she could, would say horsehair is best left on horses. One day she bolts out of Mr Jenkins’s class and gallops, racehorse-fast, to the school perimeter fence. 

                ‘They should make that fence electric,’ hisses Rita. 

But blue-crackled jolts wouldn’t stop my sister. She presses so hard against chain-link, she’s still bearing its imprint when she arrives home from detention, a maze of angry triangles marking her face like a warning.

I’m not the only one who thinks my sister is a violin. I’m fourteen when I find out how Mr Jenkins has been taking her down to the soundproof music room, trying to make her play. It’s only when D5’s band of whistle-blowers rush in to accompany her that the headmaster finally discovers what the racket is all about. D5 show him everything, how uninvited fingers have been interluding, trying to reach the lower crochets. Maybe Mr Jenkins thought he could get away with it, but my sister’s catgut-tough – a maestro at smashing the high notes. Mr Jenkins leaves suddenly and is replaced by the jolly Mrs Westgate who encourages us to all chorus together. I brag to Rita Bound that my brave sister is even more talented than the TV opera singer who loud-shatters wine glasses with her ear-splitting falsetto.

My sister plays beautifully if she’s just left alone. When the lights are dimmed and the audience stays hushed, I hear her arpeggios and know she’s revelling in the beauty of her crescendos.  Maybe she’s dreaming – of galloping free in a world where there are no electric fences. But I’ve known my sister all her life, she’s always going to be a solo artist – and I wouldn’t want her any other way.





Kate Axford (she/ hers) Lives in Brighton loves the sea. Words here and there including Free Flash Fiction, @nffd The Write-in, @paragraphplanet, @pigeonreview, Reflex Fiction Winter long-list, Splonk. Fatal Flaw Lit, Retreat West Micro and upcoming in Janus Literary.


Illustration by Harry Venning @harrymvenning 



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