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This is the end,
Because the beginning wasn’t
The only thing that matters is this moment
That moment you step out of your body
And become something more, something greater
This is the end
Of life as you know it
This is the end
And isn’t it glorious?
His white shirt is open at the collar, soaked through and through, his fingers are flying across the piano. The creamy expanse of his pale throat moves subtlety as he swallows, his throat is dry, so dry, his curly brown hair is stuck to his forehead and darker for the sweat holding it there. She is twirling, and she is as beautiful as he remembered all day today, her emerald dress a green so true it would shame autumn leaves. The dress billows as she spins gracefully, her rich mahogany hair whirling around her – it is the fiercest movement she has made, and her eyes glimpse up at him; those sharp grey eyes make his heart stutter and he smiles slowly, lazily – madly. He will play to the end this time.
Shadows dance across the house in the fading gold-black patterns of sunset, glancing off antique silverware, across the furniture, across everything still in boxes around the house that have been forgotten in favor of something far less substantial, far more satisfying. His fingers play that little tune that began the piece, that old, haunting melody that is the magic that began his madness, and all of a sudden he sees it again, as clearly as that first day, and now he knows why this time will be different.
It will be different this time because he now knows like an old friend the majestic black piano that sits in the ballroom of the old Victorian house that was his first love at first sight.
It will be different because this music, so strange and ancient the first time he set eyes upon it, sitting still and silent on the piano – the only thing really left in the house – this music haunts him all day long, courses through him even when he isn’t playing, which is rare. It is now everything he thinks about, his greatest mission, because this one leads to her, and he will do everything to have her.
The lovely creature in front of him twirls again, and he blinks in disbelief that anything could be so beautiful. It is different from the first time because this time, he knows what to do. The first time his tentative keys tapped out the music from the sheets, he hadn’t understood. All he knew was that, as he kept playing, the world had fallen away and there were glasses clinking and people laughing, and he could only throw his head back and smile in his supposedly abandoned house because he was the musician at a party, and wasn’t it glorious to be playing music for all those people? Then she appeared, in that dress, took a look at him and his heart nearly murdered him trying to get out of his chest and at her and he stopped playing, like a fool, right then. It’s something he’ll never forgive himself for, because she and the rest of the guests flickered out of existence and he, who was alone at all times, had never felt more abandoned than the moment her eyes left his.
It is different this time because he knows he needs to play to the end. His heart begins a strange, painful beat in his chest, a familiar quickening, and he gasps. She shakes her head at him, her eyes soulful and sad, and he knows that there isn’t a day that could go by that would make him forget her, and that is why this time will be different.
The interlude is melancholy when it pours from the piano, minor and tragic and real, and he sees again the scene play out, the scene that plays out every time, the scene that made him stop playing from shock once. The French paneled, gold doors from the ballroom fly open, the wind blowing the way it did all those years ago and causing the tablecloth on the impressive ivory tables to flutter wantonly.
The original owner of the house has tousled blonde hair and blank blue eyes that betray how much liquor he has been consuming, along with his flushed cheeks and the way he tosses his head around, wildly, looking for something right in front of him. Finally he realizes and his eyes settle on her, and he smiles slowly, lazily, the way that makes Elliot’s chest roar with something unnamed and angry and he is helpless once again – he cannot stop playing, because if he does he will not see, and he must see to accept it, to change it. To make this time different.
The original owner crosses the floor with all the clumsiness of the very drunk who think they are clever, and the Victorian woman turns slowly, her eyes watching him warily. He says something boisterous, she responds in a low, melodic voice. He gets angry and drags her away, to the sound of the end of second movement, and then the tune changes, rises, to the most fervent portion, and Elliot’s heart gives another squeeze and he grits his teeth against the pain and tears spring into his eyes, but he’ll watch them. He must. The balcony door is open just enough to show her defying him, her head up proudly as she denies his indecent pass at her. He sees the thick hand wrap around her neck, watches her struggle – the music pumps through him, lights him on fire, he’s not breathing, not breathing – and when she falls off the edge, no, when she is pushed off the edge she doesn’t make a sound, so Elliot screams for her, long and lonely and with all the pain and fear he can manage for the both of them. There is a crack and then all is still, and the original owner wanders back in and for that moment there is no justice, so Elliot plays on, so that there can be. He will change the world with the next movement, because it’s music he’s playing, music, and that is why he can go back; he understands now.
She comes back, an apparition, the ghost of a ghost, to watch him. Walks through the door and spins, slowly, her graceful arms extended, her green dress twirling all around her. Elliot smiles at her, the tears working down his face. He is beyond exhausting, his veins are screaming, his heart is stu-stuttering along and he knows it’s saying what he’s been afraid to say his whole life. And now they are at the part, the part, the last part he has never been able to play, because before he didn’t understand and now he does understand better than anything, and he grits his teeth and crouches over the piano –
And she watches with surprise as he plays the part he’s never played before, the last movement of her piece, the wildest. He looks at her, wills her to understand, that this time will be different because this time he knows what to do. He’s been waiting to do this his whole life. She shakes her head but he smiles at her, really smiles, smiles the way he hasn’t for years, and for just that moment he is a young boy again, so full of hopes and dreams, and his heart rises and swells with the crescendo of music and his green eyes are alive and sparkling –
And then the piece is over. He takes a deep breath. Listens to the absence of music. She walks over to him slowly, with caution, and he watches her warily, a soft smile still playing on his lips. Her fingers touch his chest very briefly, and then she closes her eyes. After a moment where a heartbeat might have been he grabs her hand and kisses it, watching her face light up, and then he, too, closes his eyes. There is silence inside him and it is peaceful, and music around him and that, itself, is peace.
The old Victorian house sits quietly in its area, so removed from everything, framed by trees older than some songs and so much wiser. Inside, every night, the light from the ballroom flickers in through the window. The clinking of glasses can be heard along with tinkling laughs and hauntingly sweet piano music. If one were to glance in they would see in the middle of it all a young couple dancing away, past sorrow and injustice and Time itself to a melody that will play forever, just for them.