Becker's Children
The violin hung still and silent upon the study wall, the spotlights picking out its delicate contours and casting its richness of hue into stark contrast with the white staccato plaster. Taut strings almost trembled in anticipation of the sure touch, which would release music once again from the dark chamber of its soul. Beneath, on a polished wooden shelf, rested the bow that had conquered the concert halls of the world.

Albert Becker sat motionless. Enveloped in the leather armchair, he surveyed the objects that had played such an important role in his life: The violin, through which he had captured numberless souls, the volumes of mathematical texts, through which he had wrestled with man's reason. Becker was a giant of the modern Renaissance, both an academic and an artist.

Yet, it was the roar of excited audiences that remained in Becker's inner ear, the sound of applause swelling after a performance. Not unlike the sound of a track crowd, in his younger days, urging him on through the pain that swamped his consciousness and threatened his sanity. Stretched before him, like the finishing tape itself, solid and unbreakable. Until, the moment you passed through it into the reality that lay beyond.

Becker sank back into the rich embrace of the chair. Exhausted by memories. Yes, his had been a complete life. Women had never concerned him much. Except as a challenge. So he had been spared that Achilles heel of vunerability. Once obtained, they had ceased to interest him. Only acclaim had the staying force to perpetually drive him on, the power and the glory.

Yet, with regard to women, and critics for that matter, it had always been the reluctant ones that attracted him most, at least until the moment of conquest. The moment of triumph also contained the seeds of defeat. There was a sorrow here that Becker did not choose to explore. Ha left the thread dangle in the dark recesses of his mind. Was it fear that made him reluctant to trace it back to its silent pool?

Rising from his chair, Becker crossed the room and picked up the key to the glass cabinet. Splinters of light cascaded from the cut-glass decanter onto the polished surface of the glasses. Yes, Becker thought, life has many facets and many murky pools.

He was old now, a stone worn down by too many unrelenting tides. Before him, on the cracked leather of the desk, lay a white form. Beside it, erect in its holder, stood the pen. Only his signature was required. A brief effort would be enough. What was that small act to one who had lived such an eventful life? Why did he choose to avoid this minor task, as if so much depended upon it, and to remain hovering in indecision? Perhaps it was a sign of growing old age.

He had been a sperm donor for many years. Women, from all parts of the world, had queued eagerly to perpetuate his talents. He was the clinic's star performer, a vicarious stud in exile. Little wonder that they wished, in the evening of his life, to gain his permission to continue offering his services long after his death. Yet, to Becker, it seemed a cold sort of immortality, almost a death wish.

On reflection, perhaps the coldness suited him best. Images of endless rows of glass tubes, each bearing an exact replica of his own DNA, filled his mind. Banquo's children shall write Becker's epitaph.

Safe in the seclusion of his study, Becker glanced down at the dormant pen, the ink waiting to be released from its prison and to flow over the whiteness of paper in a fury of creation. He was ready.

Something fluttered in a corner of his vision. Movement disturbed the stillness of the occasion. Becker turned his head and caught sight of the fly, struggling against the transparent barrier of the windowpane. Unable to comprehend why it could not pass into the world that lay beyond.

Becker recalled the races he had ran as a youth, the fight towards that seemingly unreachable point between running and winning. The moment when Zeno's paradoxes seemed most complete. Yet, the fly was held in that sacred moment, that timelessness which Becker had strived, all his life, to preserve.

Something bile-like rose inside him, bitter and intense. Was it envy? Could one who had achieved so much envy a fly? He pondered. The fly beat its wings hard and furious against the unyielding pane. Becker smiled for a second, the deep furrows of pleasure crossing under the features of his face. Then, with slow precision, he crushed the fly beneath his fingers. Smearing a red stain upon the glass.

Returning to his desk, Becker quickly signed the form and folded it neatly, almost mechanically, into the waiting envelope. It was comforting to think that his line would continue. Preserved and duplicated by his children and his children's children. Their images stretched before him towards infinity. Not unlike his own reflection that he had once glimpsed between two angled mirrors.

The flaw of flesh and blood remained upon the glass, out of the old man's sight. The fly's struggle had ended. For Becker's children, an infinity of possibilities remained.