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A tapping at my window pane shook the glass and swiftly woke me. My eyes flashed open, and I looked into my dark room. Nothing spectacular, a bed up against one wall, music tacked to my walls and scattered on the floor with books and notebooks. Music scattered about my piano, its shiny keys calling for me to play them again.
It had to of be him: the soft murmur of a voice, mimicry of real words. Blossoming flowers and a peppermint breeze flowing through my brain. I am not alone. Yet, how can he be here?
A shallow breathing in my ear, and he was behind me, beside me. Will we play tonight?
I rose from the bed, not of my own volition. I felt him behind me, but I did not turn to look. I feared that he wouldn’t be there when I did, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it if I did not see him. So fear kept me from finding out if he was real or not. Fear kept me from finding my dark angel. I knew what happened in the Phantom of the Opera: the genius artist with the scarred face. And Eros lying with Psyche each night, her curiosity driving him away… I knew these old fables, and I feared the truth in them.
His hands on my shoulders now, leading me to the grand piano. I am weak to resist him. And why should I resist? He was letting me make music worthy of the gods.
I sat down, letting my fingers brush the keys. I heard a tapping from behind me, but did not move to look. I saw from his shadow, the violin he tapped lightly before bringing it up to play.
And we began. He played like a devil, and I accented him with the piano, and as we played- whatever we played- music was writing itself across the room. Papers flittered around and danced as if something had animated it.
Drums came, giving the music edge and erotica. I hated it and loved it all at once.
Instruments of every kind entered and faded from the sound. For hours we must have played, until the dawn began to break over the horizon, and he drew the final note across the strings of his violin.
Exhausted, I slumped forward, my mind swimming. I felt his arms on my sides, gently lifting me so that I could stand and walk to the bed. If this had been the first time, I would have been convinced I was dreaming.
But it was not the first time.
My real dreams were nearly as disturbing as that of my nighttime activities. He, playing his violin behind me, a ballad of remorse and sorrow, cold air tickling my hair on my bare shoulders. I am in a great room, sitting on a throne above it all, in a shimmering dress of pure white, with row upon row of people bowing before me. When they don’t get up, I realize they are not bowing. They are dead.
I awoke in what seemed like moments to the sound of Puccini. I had once liked Puccini, but not his music was drowned out by short lines of piano music, and the echo of his violin. I never escape his violin, even in daylight.
And daylight no longer holds any of its previous joys. Even the sun was blanched by my sleep-deprived sight. All I could see was the music that I had bouncing around in my head. It seemed that there was no end to it. I was a zombie, a mere wraith of my former self. All my friends had abandoned me, and my mother had grown too much a drunk to care.
Well, I didn’t really care either, anymore. I mean, I tried to care. Believe me, I did. It’s just that the haunting melody of the previous night’s escapades were enough to drive me mad, and I’m surprised it didn’t.
I ate alone, on the steps of the school, away from the noise so I could properly hear the music….and his voice, which whispered a haunting melody with no words. Just sounds, dark and deep, that sent chills down my spine. If I knew who the specter was, and if I had known he was alive, I would say he was singing it right now- humming it to the tune of his own violin music.
A girl, her name escaping me, sits down at my side, and I can barely hear what she’s saying- the haunting music playing so loudly in my mind. So loud…my head pounding from the strain. I massaged my temples. “What?” I asked.
“What’s going on with you, Ann?” she asked again, her green eyes, much like my own, studying me somberly.
“I don’t know what you mean.” I lied, knowing that if I explained to her the madness of my dreams she wouldn’t understand.
“You haven’t been to piano practice in weeks, and you played beautifully. I saw you: you love playing. Why stop?”
I sighed, my headache getting worse. “Because I…I just wanted to stop.”
Liar. My mind whispered, not in his voice, but in my own. Dreadfully silent, the sound of my own thoughts startled me.
“Liar.” She echoed. “No one with the passion you had just decides to stop. What happened?”
I looked at her darkly, having enough of her conversation. “I started dreaming.” I said, and stood to go to class, humming the music that never stopped in my head.
Emily, I realized suddenly. The girl’s name was Emily, and she had once taken piano lessons alongside me, having the skill and passion of a professional pianist. I had taken a liking to her, once. I had been friends with her once.
But now, I was bitter and cold, fully with the music.
I left school then, feigning sickness. She believed me, I had been acting sicker and sicker for days. When I had gotten home, I went straight to my room in the attic and began to write down the music that was threatening to overload my mind. It needed release, and for hours I gave it that, feeling the strain only lessen as more and more symphonies continued.
I felt him come as twilight dawned. This was the earliest I had ever felt him before. He drew the curtains across the window, plunging me into darkness.
Play. He commanded. And I obeyed…
I played what went through my head, and he did not touch his violin, instead, he kneeled behind me, singing the disturbingly sweet melody I had heard in my mind earlier that day. I did not know that he could sing, I had never heard him before. But blending it with my piano music was beautiful and dangerous and lovely all at once.
He put his hands over mine and I looked at them, studied them. They were pure white, fingernails shiny as glass and palms cold as snow. He gently lifted my hands away from the keyboard, the silence deafening after the melodies in both my mind and in the night. Both were silent in this moment. My breath ragged from the excursion, I sighed at his gently touch.
Come away from the keys. He beckoned. I want you to sing.
Sing? How the h*** could I possibly do that? I had no voice whatsoever. “I can’t.” I protested.
You can and you will. We stood now, he behind me. Sing.
I couldn’t resist him. I sang. I sang as I had never sung, with more vigor, and more finesse then I had ever heard in myself before. I sang of darkness and death and betrayal and hate, of symphonies and melodies, of harmony and chaos. I sang as if it was not me that singing, but him. Yet he sang alongside me, and our voices melded into one. There was nothing else besides the two of us and the night…and his violin. Oh, what possessed that violin once I began to sing! It grew even fiercer, drawing across the strings as if it was the devil that played, and not a man. It was too fast, too deep, too stirring. Inhuman. Insane. Enough to drive me mad.
But we continued to play, and I continued to sing, and as the morning dawned, we did not stop. It continued. All day I sang, and when my voice began to crack, he had me sit down to play again. But never did we stop. The ferocious music continued, and I grew past the point of exhaustion, past the brink of insanity. No, there was nothing. Nothing but the music. An hour at the piano, another hour singing at his side, another at the keys again, and so on. There was no end. It never ended.
I felt like a girl possessed, yet I did not want to stop. Hours must have passed, and I never wanted to stop. Not even when he had to hold me up as I sang. He was warm to me now, in those few moments when our skin brushed. I did not have much time to notice. I was too wrapped up in the singing. I could barely hear his voice, anymore, and my own was growing weaker, though I tried hard enough to keep it from counting.
Hours more passed. Hours, or days. It could have been years and I would not have notices. I noticed nothing anymore. I was past the brink of the brink. My voice was gone, and my mind two muddied to even see the keys. I glance up at him, for the first time seeing his form, his dark hair, fuzzy and blurred. Everything was fuzzy to me now, half-formed images. He brushed my hair from my face, and his cold lips lightly kissed my neck. With all my remaining strength, I shivered. “You’re mine.” He whispered in my ear. “Now and forever.”
I suddenly regained all of my strength, all of my clarity. All that remained was a slight feeling of lightheadedness. I looked to him, bewildered, and then to his outstretched hand.
“Come with me.” He said, beckoning.
I could not resist him. I went. And for all the years that followed, I have regretted it.