Author's Notes: This came to me while I was listening to an acoustic guitar on cd. To get the best effect, you should also find a song soloing or highlighting an acoustic guitar to listen to while you read it. There are few finer sounds.
She's been doing it for more than an hour now, never-ending dream. Through the wall at the head of my bed I can hear it. My roommate has never slept better.
I imagine how it must be.
She must sit in the middle of the bed, her bare feet hanging over the side, inches above the soft carpet. He sprawls out the length, his shirt flung over in some corner, lying on his stomach, his face buried in his folded arms. He's been asleep since she started.
She does not stop.
I lie awake, still, my breathing slow so that I don't miss it. I have not slept in days.
The notes trickle on.
In my mind, I imagine the acoustic guitar. Stained wood shell. Smooth as glass. She cradles it in her lap, hunched over, head cocked to the side as I have seen so many musicians do. Her fingers dance over the strings, endlessly. Tirelessly. He sleeps on, oblivious.
Only I hear.
It goes on, and the wall isn't there. It never was. I close my eyes.
Imagine how it could be.
She sits in the center of my bed, instrument cradle in her arms, running chords. The night sleeps, yet it is alive with the beauty of the playing notes. Spanish hymns, Celtic love songs, sacred musical runes of a brief, romantic empire from long ago. They all connect, become one, on and on, a circle. I circle my arms around her waist, stop when I'm impeded by the instrument in her arms. I place my hands upon her shoulders. Let her know someone is listening.
My eyes open, and truth comes back to me. Through the wall, she's playing a slow, soft tune. It sounds familiar, in the way that some things do. Drops of rain on hot sand, tearful sighs. I can almost hear her fingers as they pluck each string individually, merging as the tune stretches on, endless circle.
I close my eyes.
In the morning, I will find them at the table. He'll be eating a big breakfast. He hasn't eaten so many big breakfasts since he was a child. She'll perch over him, human again without her instrument. He'll smile, call a greeting to me, kiss her goodbye. She looks tired, but won't complain. And he won't ask. There's nothing to ask. She gives freely, takes nothing. When he leaves, she cleans up, quietly puts everything away.
That's how it will be.
How it must be.
I open my eyes, glance at the shadowy ceiling. Tomorrow it may rain. It smells like rain already. Tomorrow I will watch her clean, listen to her soft morning greeting to me as I walk into the kitchen. Tomorrow we will both stand silently, watch him as he
goes. Tomorrow she will go again, quietly disappear out of the door, the large guitar case slung over her shoulder.
But she will be back tomorrow night.
My eyes slide shut as she begins an old hymn. There are words to it, I'm sure, though I have forgotten them. I would like to ask her if she knows.
Tomorrow I should.
Tomorrow should be different. I should help her clean, smile at her. And when he leaves, I should tell her she plays beautifully. Tell her she puts me to sleep every night, though the opposite is true. Then tell her, pleadingly, that he does not listen. He does not hear her. She should go. Not come back. Shine her gift down on two greater roommates. We aren't deserving.
Tomorrow he and I should watch her go.
I can see his face now, quiet, puzzled. Turning to me in the light, he'll mourn over it, walk away unhappily.
He does not love her.
He will never sleep so well again. In the darkness, when the chords do not run, the silence will come in again, and the night will sleep calmly. And he'll lie awake, trapped in again by it all, caught in the shadows again. As for me, well, I will sleep again. Thoroughly and restfully. And nevermore will I close my eyes and listen through the wall, never let my mind wonder restlessly with a song of old magic. Never smile quite so awkwardly at a young woman's turned back.
And I shall never again love as deeply.