Rudy Wilson


But now I felt dirty. I was never the same after those nights, and the leaving. I grew old…I became a very old man. I lost the ability to laugh. And I didn’t cry either. I survived.


But that song I’d just heard softened me, teared me up, and I noticed some small blue, perhaps robin’s eggs, broken, on the edge of the sidewalk…dead little baby birds, I assumed. I looked at those blues for a time. Then I remembered my father. He was a good, kind man.


I wanted to live…and I knew the only way to live was to be present, present now, and I’d been so lost in regret and future fear. I realized I was not living at all. I stopped and stooped down by the broken eggs. It was just us then. I thought of an old man singing a song, his song, holding on to what had been: an entire life, with a childhood so long ago, and all the small details, friends and fights and dust and dirt and parents and schools and aging and manhood and maybe a wife, maybe a divorce, or two…and then old age, and then in a bed or struck down walking on a dark sidewalk, a heart betrayal…a loss…a moving on into the real darkness.


Then I saw a girl, through a lit window, with the shade up…her back and long hair, ponytailed down to her bare back. I watched and stood in the dark. Then she moved away slightly and came back, her bare back still to the window, and had a violin with her, and began to play…


I stood in the dark, near a wide tree, and watched, as she played her heart into that beautiful, brown violin I could just see, tucked under her fragile chin. I stood and listened and went into a knowing: there is beauty in this world that saves us…



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Rudy Wilson was born in Mississippi, and has lived around the country, East and West, currently in Iowa since completing and teaching at The Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the author of three novels: The Red TruckA Girl Named Jesus, and Sonja's Blue, and has published stories in various literary journals, including The Paris Review (for which he received a CCLM-GE Award), Gordon Lish's Quarterly, The Indiana Review, and others. He has also received a James Michener Award and an NEA Fellowship.  He has taught fiction at three universities. He has finished a new novel and is an avid photographer and filmmaker.


This story was originally published in Issue #14 of The Literarian.