"They seem not to believe in their own happiness and their song blends with the moonlight"
|Every night I put myself to bed, tucked under the sheets staring up at the canopy. Counting threads, counting sheep, counting seconds until the clock downstairs calls for me three times. Now I count minutes. Twenty-four to be exact. As I reach the end of my countdown, the piano wakes up. Clair de Lune begins to echo from the parlour, drifting up the stairs towards my room. I hear the melody hit the ceilings, the wall, and the windows on its way up before it slips under my door.
I let the song dance in my head until the piano finally goes back to sleep. It’s been this way for a few days now. Or has it been a few weeks? I’ve begun to lose track of time since it started. I’ve been alone in this empty, marble tomb of an estate for just as long. The first night I heard the piano I thought I must have been insane. I listened for almost a full minute before deciding it was very much real and that I might not have been alone here after all. Maybe he had come back. Maybe he had never really left. But as I opened my door and began walking to the staircase, I was overcome with exhaustion. My legs started to feel like they were full of lead, each step becoming more difficult than the last. The hallway seemed to stretch on for an eternity and I was breathless as I reached the top of the stairs. It was then that the song ended. I felt a chill, and the whisper of his voice calling me to bed barely touched my ears. But still, I heard him. So I went back to my room. Empty. He was not there. He was not playing the piano. He was still gone.
It must be a few months now that this has been happening. I hear the song at precisely the same time each night. I can’t escape it even as the sun rises and illuminates my loneliness. Every time I try to get a glimpse of the mysterious pianist I am overcome with that same inexplicable exhaustion. By the time I reach the parlour, I am left only with the soft echoes of my own steps. I begin to wonder if it really is him playing the song or if it might be someone, or something, else. You see, when I say that he left me I don’t mean he left our home. He left in spirit, certainly, but his body remained. I awoke one morning to an empty bed. After searching every room I wandered into the garden where I found him in the fountain, looking peaceful as a sleeping child. Only, he wasn’t sleeping. He would never wake again. His death certificate said “accidental drowning” and a burly policeman told me that perhaps he’d been drinking and stumbled in. A terrible tragedy, everyone would say. A terrible accident. I’ve doubted this theory since the moment I discovered him, but I couldn’t prove anything. A suicide was out of the question as a person cannot drown themselves in a fountain with no weights or restraints. A murder was out of the question as there were no signs of an intruder, and he had no other injuries on his body. Simply a scrape on his knee and a serene smile on his bloated face.
I decided tonight to read his journal. The leather one he kept in his nightstand. As I flipped through the pages, my heart hurt at the sight of his writing. I saw dates listed and started reading. At first it was rather ordinary; documentation of his days, work woes, interactions in town, and outings we took together. As I got further along though, I noticed his entries were later in the night. A familiar number jumped out at me and as I read about the unknown piano player he had been hearing at night, and about how it seemed not to wake me, I grew ever more certain of the necessity of my decision; tonight I shall wait in the parlour for the song to start. I will face whatever being killed my husband.
I am counting down the minutes after the clock struck three.
The moonlight seems to call to me through the window.
My hands are pushing open the doors to the garden.
The piano has awoken inside but I cannot turn back around.
The song is a cacophonous mess wriggling its way into my head.
The sweet sobbing of the fountain quiets the music.
It’s fading more now.
I think I’ve scraped my knee climbing in.
The water distorts the light of the moon.
Finally I hear nothing at all.