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If only you would listen, I could tell you secrets.
Stop trying to deny my presence. For I can tell you everything.
You don’t believe me?
Just come closer.
You never knew her. Not really, anyway. All you remember are the scraps of love. The vague memories, the trembling touch of her fingers against your cheeks.
She was only herself in my presence.
But first I’ll tell you about the music. It always comes back to the music.
It started off with the nocturnes. The Father of Nocturnes: Frederic Chopin. She would play them through the night when she couldn’t sleep. Notes drifted from her suspended fingers, and sometimes you would kick in delight.
Funny, isn’t it? You were a romantic from the start.
So was she. Sometimes, she would just stare out the kitchen window at the flowering buds…at the hollyhocks and the hydrangeas, the snapdragons and the delphiniums. It was always so hard for her to see beauty in day-to-day life. Whenever she would stand by the window, the twisting cadences of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers would blossom in her mind and she would sway to the harmonies, her peasant skirt kissing her calves with every step.
It was only later that she realized the whispers were mine.
You think you’re so unique for spurning my advances, ignoring my persuasion. Really, you’re just like the others. In the beginning, everyone pushes me away.
But towards the end, the only presence they feel is mine.
Sometimes, she would look across the room and see me watching. This was before she could recognize me, so she blamed the poor lighting. Even when I was only watching, I could see what nobody else could see about her.
I could see the Music. It was her refuge from the world.
She would remember the days of burning stage lights and captivated audiences. Her feet firmly on the ground, she would make the majestic stride across the curtained arena to her black and white terrain. Ma non troppo, più mosso, accelerando, accelerando, accelerando,…her slender fingers would caress the beaded notes on the page and she would be immersed in a land of whiteness. Nothing could touch her. She thought she was Invincible.
But then I came along.
Do you want to hear a secret?
She feared that you’d be like her.
She would feel your heart beating inside of her and she would begin to cry. She would stumble through the labyrinth of her home, her belly swollen with regrets.
Swollen with you.
Every night, there would be the dreams. Her feet would fly out from under her and she would be swept away. They were always the same: she would be standing on the streets of Vienna, her bare feet merely silhouettes against the stone pavement.
She would be alone before an open window. Drifting through the air, distressing pitches would pierce her eardrums, and she would fall to the ground in anguish. As she hit the pavement, her calloused fingers would begin to swell and swell and swell until they burst into a multitude of shades and intonations.
And then it was silent.
Though colors flew before her eyes, she could no longer hear. It was no longer fear that ate up her insides.
It was darkness.
You don’t trust me. That’s understandable.
But you’ll come to see that I’m very understanding.
When I found him, Beethoven was living in darkness. He would stumble through the streets of Vienna, his booming laugh and broad gestures mirroring the chaos within. He often confided in me, the brightest star in his land of no refuge.
And you know what Beethoven once said, “I am never alone when I am alone.”
But I hear what they say about me. “It’s a sad diagnosis. She never deserved such an illness”.
Such naïveté amuses me. For I am the Eye-Opener. They feed off of me. I am their Inspiration, their revelation. Over the years, I’ve learned I’m much more accepted amongst geniuses. I can be found everywhere amidst scores and scores of music. All you have to do is look for me.
At first, when the dreams didn’t go away, she would blame the hormones. She would clutch at the roundness that was you and await better days. The crinkled pages of “Debussy’s Children’s Corner” would be smoothed out, and she would sit in the armchair by the fireplace and trace the notes on the page, the depth of her throat humming sweet lullabies.
When she felt my hand on her shoulder, she would lose control. A tremolo of emotions would pulse through the air as she lay her head down against the keyboard, notes colliding mid-air. She would begin to scream, her pitch climbing higher and higher until she could no longer emit sound. You would begin to pound the rhythm of her anguish with your infantile toes, one-two-three-and, two-two-three-and, three-two-three-and-until her symphony would finally conclude with the tonic.
She spoke her last words to me.
She was lying on the wooden floorboards under the grand piano, eight hundred pounds of hardwood and iron plates suspended above her head and she began to cry, tears mixing with the words that fell from her lips.
“If I fall asleep, will it be over?”
How else could I have answered her? Insanity only speaks Truth.
And I’ll come for you, too. Just don’t try to flee when you hear my murmurs in your ear-it’ll only make things harder. Once in a while, there’s always a struggler…but I always win in the end. So why even bother?
In time, you’ll feel my wispy breath against your neck when you least expect it. Maybe I’ll make you hear music, or maybe I’ll make you hear silence-it depends how I’m feeling that day. We’ll play our little game for a while, but then it will come to an end.
As all good things do.
One of these days, maybe I’ll tire of the same old routine. The Watching, the Waiting, and, finally, the whispers. It’s not a job for the weak-hearted, and I take my duties seriously.
But after all, I am the Secret.
Can you hear me yet?
All in good time.