To quietened to a somewhat bearable degree,

To Daniel, there was always a moment, right before laying his bow on the strings, when everything around him would still and become silent. There was a time when he used to live for that moment, for that fleeting second when his focus consorted and his heart held stagnant, for when the world and all its occupants would fade away. The weight of the violin supported by his shoulder, the jolt of nerves that surged from his fingers to his toes, painting his body in a warm glow.  He hadn’t felt one of those moments since his mother left six years ago.  During the day, the New York subway station was a seething monster of humanity. People of every size, shape, and color walking shoulder to shoulder. Despite the fact that by late morning the frantic mass of confused chatter, machinery, and PA systems that no one could understand quietened to a somewhat bearable degree, there was still the putrid stench—a smell so horribly rancid one would even consider burying their head in a stranger’s coat to escape it—that inhabited every square inch of the poorly ventilated tube of gray aluminum.  Daniel felt the balance of the bow in his hands, the firm presence of the violin set under his chin. Across the platform, Daniel’s blue blue eyes linked with his brother Andy’s, whose identical gaze spoke wordlessly to him:?Ready.  Daniel drew in a sharp breath and forced his lips to shape a grin; it came all too easily at this point.?  The first notes that spilled into the prattle of noise were soft, pianissimo, almost timorous as he pulled them cleverly from the beloved instrument. They loitered in the stale air before he smoothly encrusted sound into them, charming and coaxing the melody together. Daniel had no need nor desire to glimpse at the absent sheet music; every note was already branded into his mind. He slid effortlessly through an intricate assortment of agile notes and just as subtly flowed into a decrescendo that fashioned the growing throng of people that flocked towards him to grow even calmer, straining their ears to hear every scale of his performance.?  They had no idea he was merely the distraction. ?  Andy, with ghost-like hands, made this way through the credulous swarm.?What is the easiest method to stealing a man’s wallet??Andy had asked him once. After Daniel shrugged his shoulders, Andy told him that the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet was to direct his attention to where you wanted it to be. At first Daniel questioned his older brother. Surely someone would notice. Surely someone would see him reaching out and taking it, or the person would feel the weight difference.  They never even shifted.  Daniel altered the tempo as his long fingers danced down the neck in a proficient blur of motion. He closed his eyes as he neared the slyly built crescendo and rushed to escape into his own little world. He and his violin were all that mattered there, the two of them constructing a single unit with a single cognizance. It was calm and peaceful and uncontrolled; a place where he needed nothing and no one, only the glide of his bow and the serenading sound of the music he crafted as carefully as if he were cutting the notes from glass. ?  You’re good, Danny, but at your age I was better.  ?    His father’s voice shattered the fragile domain within Daniel’s mind, drawing him back to his audience with a force that was anything but gentle. A small, perfect tempest of anger and frustration fused in the pit of his stomach, but he did not allow it to upset the fluidity of his bow.  What had his father always told him??You play the piece fluently, without mistakes, or you do not play it at all.  Daniel couldn’t argue with him—he was too much of a coward for that. Since the day he took up the violin, his father had drilled that lesson into him in a way that ensured he would never forget it.  Just play.  His brain acted on autopilot to the unvoiced command.  At the sound of the final note, hushed and gorgeous and teeming with the concept that it came from the very depths of his soul, Daniel felt as if he could finally breathe again.? Applause petered out just after the vibrant sound ceased to inhabit the air and Daniel lowered his violin, dropping into a bow as dollar bills fell into his open case.  Flashing another beaming smile, “Thank you,”  As the crowd dispersed Daniel put away his instrument, collected the green strips of paper, and pretended not to watch the man six years his senior disappear into the roaming masses with his hands carefully placed in his now budging pockets.  If Daniel had to describe himself and Andy, he would say they were like a magician’s coin; there one minute, then gone the next.