THE NEXT STEP (38)

Laura squeezed Darky’s hand. She felt lost for words. What could she possibly say to make him feel better about what had happened?

‘That was years ago, Darky’. she said finally. ‘Maybe it wasn’t anything to do with you, but your friend really had an undiagnosed heart problem. It might have just been a very unlucky coincidence that he happened to die that night. If there was some traces of poisonous substances in his body, surely the doctors would have said so after the post-mortem? Think about it this way, if the incidence hadn’t happened, you might have never found your calling, your music. You would have never become the success that you became.’

Darky shook his head. ‘I don‘t know, Laura, I simply don’t know.‘

They heard the bell ring then and people started flooding back into the audience. It was time for the second half of the performance. Laura felt grateful for this interruption. She didn’t know what else to say. She had a feeling that, whatever she said, it wouldn’t make any difference to how Darky was feeling right now.

The orchestra started playing and Darky let go of Laura’s hand. The melodies of Chopin’s waltz drifted through the concert hall. Laura tried to forget about what Darky had told her and, instead, to lose herself in the music. But the unsettled feeling she had in the pit of her stomach wouldn’t allow her to relax. She felt slightly nauseous, as if she knew that Darky and his flat mates had killed the friend. But there was no evidence, she told herself. It was just a stupid joke at a wrong time.

Towards the end of the second part, Laura found herself feeling a little more relaxed, yet she decided to leave before the final piece. She couldn’t think of anything to talk to Darky about on their way home.

‘I need to go early to catch the last bus back’, she whispered to Darky when the final piece was about to begin. ‘Thank you for a lovely evening, I have really enjoyed it!’

Laura got up and left before Darky had a chance to respond. She walked hurriedly to the front door and was grateful for the fresh, cool night air that hit her face when she took the first steps on the pavement. Why was she feeling this upset about what Darky had told her? It was none of her business and, if anything, she should feel pleased that he had confided in her. But why was she this upset? She couldn’t even explain it herself.