Her name was Lena Marks and she was recognised the world over as the best violin player alive. Some even going as far as to say the best ever.
Lena, herself, never commented on whether or not she was the best, in fact, she never really commented on anything. She was a famous recluse, choosing to live apart from everyone, only appearing two or three times a year to perform a new piece she had written since her last performance and then retiring back to the palatial house in Malibu she had inherited from her parents after they died several years ago, just as Lena was starting to make her mark.
She never did interviews, despite the ever increasing amount of money offered for her to appear on anything from Conan O’Brien’s show to Howard Stern’s. Even Playboy had a standing offer to her. She didn't even turn them down, she just ignored the offers and acted like they didn't exist.
The lack of interviews, the reclusiveness and the sad tale of her parents death made her one of the most popular people in the world, especially in gossip mags and those horrible clickbait websites which, almost weekly, had an ‘article’ that claimed to know why she was so introverted – which always turned out to be speculation, a reprint of someone else’s article or just fiction.
So, if Lena was a recluse and quiet, then her fans were the exact opposite. While violin wasn't the most popular form of music, her talent, her story and her good looks made her a gathering point for people who wanted to practice their conspiracy theories, and in the absence of actual facts, her fan base started to make everything up, which of course led to contradictions, which of course led to her fan base splitting. There were always internet dramas going on about who she was, if her story was true, why she lived alone in an 18 bedroom house and so on and so forth.
Her fan base, as a whole, was constantly voted as the worst in the world.
Lena Marks sighed. The rain pelted down on the window and while it had been a source of inspiration over the last few weeks and had allowed her to complete her newest work, now that she was done, it just depressed her.
She knew that the internet had ‘diagnosed’ her with depression, even though she didn’t have it, so she wasn't going to let anyone to see her like this, although a voice in the back of her mind did enjoy the idea of messing with people. As always, though, she ignored it.
It wasn't the rain, per se, that depressed her, although she wasn't entirely a fan of it anyway, it was what the rain represented that drove her to pacing along the long dining room that was now her writing room.
Some time ago…
“Alright then, Lena, do you understand everything?”
“Yes, Ms Shanks,” the young girl answered, not nervously, but not entirely confidently.
“Ok then. Begin.”
Lena Marks was 8 years old and her parents had hired Isabella Shanks, the foremost violin teacher in the United States to take what they recognised as Lena’s raw talent and forge it into something amazing.
Lena and Isabella had taken to each other immediately and together they were able to do what no other teacher Lena had previously had was able to - get Lena to play anything other than one of Bach’s early (and relatively basic) violin pieces.
Her parents were ecstatic when, after several months of tutelage, Isabella informed them that Lena had started to write her own music and was getting very proficient at the increasingly difficult pieces she had been giving her to practice with.
“In fact,” Isabella had said one day, “she might be ready to perform.”
Lena’s parents attached themselves to this idea of Lena performing and pushed their daughter harder and harder, much to the annoyance of Isabella, who told them that these things could not be rushed.
But it didn't matter what the teacher said and it didn't matter what Lena said - her parents were adamant that she was going to perform and that was that.
It was a little after Lena’s tenth birthday that she put on her first show for people other than Isabella or her parents. It was a birthday party for one of Lena’s school friends and she had heard that Lena was learning the violin and asked her to play. Lena didn't want to, but both her parents and Isabella, although the latter was somewhat reluctant, encouraged her to do so.
And so Lena Marks performed the violin for her classmate. Her performance was amazing and she loved every minute of it. Seeing all the kids and adults watch her and take it all in was like a drug to her.
Afterwards, after all the congratulations and “that was amazing”s, when they got back home, Isabella took her aside and the two of them went through the performance bit by bit. For hours they discussed where she went wrong, which notes she missed and how complicated the pieces she played were compared to what they both knew she was capable of.
The bottom line was that they both knew she was holding back and even though everyone had loved her playing, she could have done better.
Her parents didn't know that, of course, and like the others, they had heard an amazing player put on an amazing show. They uploaded her performance to the internet and waited. Within a few weeks, Lena Marks was all over the internet and had been getting interviews to appear and play on almost every feel good day time TV talk show.
Neither Isabella nor Lena wanted this to happen, but her parents ‘knew better’ and she was carted around all of them in the few years before the incident.
It was a rainy night, and Lena was being driven home after another four hour stint on a talk show. She was 13 now and most people had forgotten. Isabella had been the only one to get her a present.
Her parents hadn't talked to her as their daughter in so long, much less wished her a happy birthday. In fact, they weren't even in this car. It was only her, Isabella and the driver. Her parents had stayed back in New York for another night to attend a party that they weren't invited to. The last thing they had said to her before Isabella had bundled her in the car was “go on with Ms Shanks, dear. We’ll see you in the morning.”
Lena knew it was a lie, especially when her father had pulled out the little bag of white powder and pulled her mother away and ran off with a bunch of other people Lena didn't know.