The Cellist

The music room was frigid and damp and when Stefan entered the air hit him like an ice storm. The room was a giant square with a domed ceiling and large windows on the wall opposite the site of the practice seats. Choir risers were placed at the back behind the orchestra seats which were shaped like a half-moon around the conductors podium. The light was a vibrant grey glaring in as the sunlight reflected through the heartless, stoic clouds outside. Snow drifted to the ground languidly, covering the cruel, black world in a veil of white.

Stefan was a tall man in his early thirties with short black hair and large, oval black eyes which looked at the world with the turbulent calm of a hurricane's center. He was a man of average build with sharply angled joints and large, defined hands. He wore a simple grey sweater and blue slacks. Stefan walked with the dignity and grace of a panther in the shadows of the moonshine, this music room his vast, dense jungle of chairs, instruments and voices.

He sat in the first chair in the cello section which was placed to the far left of the center and placed his cello next to it. He unzipped the bag and pulled out the delicate wooden instrument, feeling it's cold surface lean against his legs. He tightened and rosined his bow with a ferocious, fluid movement. Every step was taken with precise care and consideration, every note was tuned to perfection and the warm up of key scales, trills, tremolos and staccatos warmed and loosened his stiff fingers.

He began to play.

Every note left his hand like a wave of dangerous emotion and his right arm rocked back and forth, drawing the bow across the thick strings. He closed his eyes, letting the music wash through his ears and outward into the room, echoing with a finality unto itself. He heard nothing other than the music - it was his life, his being. He didn't even notice that someone else had entered the room and was listening to his erratic fingerings and strokes until he'd finished the song.

The young woman clapped, her hands echoing in the room as the cello had down. She sat across the floor from him in the violin section, but she was in the back chairs rather than the front. Her vibrant red hair was pulled back into a low ponytail and she wore a form fitting black shirt and a white blouse. She smiled at him with white teeth and dimples, her eyes catlike and alive. He knew her name to be Madeline, but until that moment he had never taken notice of her before, keeping himself still against everyone but the conductor and his stand partner.

"That was really good, " She exclaimed. "Did you make it up yourself?"

"Yes," He answered, his smile solemn. "I wrote it for the love of my life."

"I'm sure she adores it!"

"It was the song I played for her at her funeral." He said indelicately, his voice hard. "I'm not good with words, so I expressed my pain at her loss as best I could."

Her face had fallen, struck by words and shocked at his openness. She fiddled her hands I her lap and glanced about the room until her violet eyes rested in sync with his, "I see. When did she pass?"

"Two months ago." He said. "I'm sorry if I upset you."

"No! Don't be. I'm glad you told me because I think if you hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to understand the song." The girl said, her young violet eyes expressive and obtrusively honest. "What was her name, may I ask."

"Ophelia," He answered. "She had red hair, like yours."

"Really?" The girl touched her hair gingerly. "I'm sure your wife hears your song every time you play it and she smiles, knowing you think of her."

He smiled, looking the girl in the eye, his hand caressing the neck. "Oh, I'm sure she does."

Later that night the man walked into the basement of his old, refurbished Victorian style home. The stench of mold and wet refuge filled the room, but another, fouler scent lingered - the indescribable scent of death and decay. His dark eyes gleamed at the young woman tied in the chair, her long hair covering her pale face, hiding the features in a brooding shadow. The dim light of candles filled the dark, stank basement, highlighting her frail frame in a translucent glow. Her arms were tied to the wooden chair rests, her feet to the legs and she wore a dress two sizes too large for her. It was a blue dress decorated with light golden, embroidered cranes; not a dress meant for the anxiety of winter but rather the gaiety of the summer sun. The room around her was barren, she was the only decoration, sitting like a doll at a child's tea party. Stefan sat across from her, on a stool, his eyes glistening with the candles which flickered and withered in the cold dampness.

He reached his hand out and touched the woman's soft cheek, his thumb caressing her eyelids, the bridge of her nose, the soft curves of her mouth and the undercut of her chin. Her eyes fluttered open, first as innocently as a butterfly first landing on the silken threads of a spiders web, not knowing it's fate and then widening with panic and shock as the realization of entrapment overtook fatigue. She jerked her head away from his calloused hand, but before she could open her mouth to scream for the help of the moldy walls around her, his covered it with his hand.

"Now, that's no way to treat me, " He said, pulling away from her, his sickeningly handsome face stoic and disjointed. "Madeline, my dear Madeline, I've brought you here out of love. Can't you understand that?"

She shivered and trembled at the touch of his fingers stringing their way through her red tresses, untangling the masses. She choked back her sobs, refusing to meet the obsidian centers of his eye. Her hands twisted and wound themselves to no avail, the burning of the ropes growing intense as the skin split open and peeled off.

"I'm going to play for you, My dearest Madeline." He smiled at her and kissed her forehead. "And you'll forever be mine. "

He backed away from her, sitting down on the edge of his stool and picked up the cello which had sat silent on the floor. He began the music with notes in G minor and the switched to F major in legato strokes, his fingers vibrating the morose tones. He kept his dark eyes on her pale, tear-streaked face.

"Don't be concerned, lovely Madeline. I've written this song for your funeral, I'm sure you'll appreciate it more than my Ophelia did her own. I'll play it for you every night as your body wastes away, emaciated and covered in your own feces. It will be the only pleasure you will experience for the rest of your days, and as you sit there, dying, you'll think only of me and my cello. Oh, Madeline, you're mine now. You're my audience and you'll love my music because it's all you have left. I'm your savior, my Madeline. I've taken you from a world of pain, of sorrow, of grotesque violence stifled by the ambiguity of mortal ignorance. No longer will any person hurt you or make you sad, you will stay here with me, forever. And I'll play for you, sweet Madeline with your violet eyes and red hair. I'm your cellist and you're my ears, damned Madeline."