Chapter 25: "Movements"
It was somewhere in the late morning when a team of movers arrived across the street at the Madison residence. I was standing in the large window of the living room, partially hidden by the thin lace veil that stood between the glass and me. It was cloudy out, with some intervals of sun, but not many, and the gray natural light gave everything in the house a hollow, melancholy feel. With the house empty, I found that feeling, combined with watching the Madison house being slowly emptied, disheartening. About a half hour ago I had set up my music stand and had started playing my violin in hopes of taking my mind off everything, but no matter what, my thoughts would always wander back to the humans. All morning the question was plaguing me of whether they were even real or just some hallucination, and if that were the case what did that say about my sanity?
I paused for a moment, trying to shake the thoughts of insanity from my head, and with a glance to the scene outside I took a deep breath and began playing again. The music was fast and I threw all my energy into its sharp notes, which brought to mind the images of harsh, frozen rain and a sunless sky. The piece had a truly beautiful and piercing quality to it, as did the rest of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, however today the same notes that evoked such emotion when played only amplified my anxiety as I watched the movers fill a large wagon with furniture and boxes while a distressed Mrs. Madison looked on helplessly as her life was carried out the door and thrown on to the growing pile. The music played over their silent movements making the scene like something out of a film. My mind wandered as Winter Allegro non Molto played over my thoughts. I could see flashes of that horrible night that appeared in my mind and disappeared just as quickly with each strike of my bow on the strings of the instrument. Then, a flash from my imagination of Madison's chase, and his final moments. It was only a passing thought like all the other images, but then it quickly developed side by side with the music, the fictional movements matching the music, and for an instant I forgot I was the one playing it. Breaking out of my day dreaming trance I stopped; the images vanished just before the imaginary Madison was struck down, and I was left with the last of my notes hanging in the air.
I left the living room to get something to drink. When I returned and picked up my violin again, something outside the window caught my eye. Brushing aside the ornately stitched curtains I could see the front end of a taxi, and just as I began to wonder what it was doing outside my house the vehicle leapt forward, pulling away from the curb and drove past me and out of my sight. Immediately after the taxi left I heard the jingle of keys and the familiar sound of the door being unlocked. The reassuring sounds allowed me to return to my music, as I listened to the door open and a pair of footsteps entered. There was less than a minute's worth of music left and the added feeling of being watched I focused intensely on the sheet music in front of me trying to play each of the rapid notes perfectly, or as close to perfect as possible. Finally, I pulled the bow across the string for the last note, drawing it out for just a moment, as I let out a relieved sigh.
"Very nice." The voice of my guest startled me. Looking over to the living room entrance I saw Kiara leaning against the archway.
"Thank you," I said quietly with a small smile. "May I ask what you're doing here at such an hour? I thought you had classes now." I said, flipping a few pages of sheet music.
She frowned, moving towards me. "Are you suggesting that I can't come visit my 'missing' fiancé?"
"No, I just don't want you to get into trouble because me," I said looking down into her ashen colored face. She rolled her eyes at me, and wrapped her arms around my neck.
"I was just worried about you," she said softly, resting her head on my shoulder.
"I know, it's just…I don't want…I'm glad you came," I said returning the embrace.
We stayed like that for a few minutes, until the silence became too much. Letting go of me she asked, "Are you okay after what happened?"
I paused. "Yes. I'm fine now."
"Fine?" she repeated, as I drifted back to my violin. "Just, fine?"
I nodded then changed the subject. "Did you come right from class?"
"Well the chauffer dropped me off at the campus, but the more I kept thinking about what I heard in the papers the more worried about you I got, so I just left and took a taxi here." She paused, then looking down at her dress. "In retrospect, I regret not stopping to change." She shook her head. "Don't try to change the subject on me."
"I'm not and what's wrong with what you're wearing?" I chuckled, looking at the plain black dress over the white blouse. The dress, and the matching jacket draped over her shoulders bore the elaborate insignia of her college. She sighed at me, and sat down in the chair next to the window. I raised the instrument to my shoulder and started to play again, this time a more uplifting and appropriate piece.
A minute or two later she asked, "Where is everyone?"
I sighed. "Timothy and Eliza are in school, Dad had a meeting at his office, Mum, I think, is having tea at your house with your mother, and the police left almost an hour ago."
"The police were here?" she said, startled.
"Yeah, they wanted to talk to me about last night," I said calmly.
"What did happen?" Kiara asked. "Because I've been hearing all sorts of things."
"I don't really remember," I said tentatively. My playing slowed. "Everything is pretty much a blur…" I let my voice trail off, feeling too guilty to continue.
"You don't remember what happened?" she asked, spinning around to face me. I quickly went back to playing. "Darius, that's serious if you can't remember the entire evening." She looked at me, concern written on her face.
"Don't worry," I said quickly. "It's all stress related, just a reaction to whatever happened last night."
Kiara kept staring at me, unsatisfied with my answer. "Have you considered maybe going to see a doctor?"
"I don't need a doctor. I'm fine," I immediately answered.
"I beg to differ," She replied.
I stopped playing all together. "You think something's wrong with me?"
"Not necessarily…but it's just very disconcerting to hear you say you're fine when clearly you aren't." Her voice was strained with concern.
"I am fine," I said quietly to the carpet.
"Look," she said rising from her seat, "I'm sure you're right, but it's my job to worry about you."
"I know," I said, letting my arms drop to my sides. "I just want to enjoy the fact that I did make it home." I looked at her, with her arms crossed and slowly her eyes softened.
She sighed stepping a bit closer and reaching to adjust my black shirt tie. "Well then if it is stress like you claim I hope you'll at least take some time off."
"I already promised I would," I replied, as I took up the tune again, but with less energy. "My parents want me to stay home until Wednesday at the very least."
"Why not take the whole week?" Kiara asked, then added leaning against the chair. "Maybe go somewhere nice."
I shrugged, "I don't know, I just feel like sitting around. Besides, I'm sick of travelling at this point, and where would I even go?"
"I'm sure we could find someplace to go."
I paused my playing, turning to look at her. "You'd come with me?"
"Of course," she said as if I'd missed something very obvious, "It's no fun to go places all by your self, it gets lonely."
"I'm still not sure I want to go anywhere. Besides, I wouldn't want to take you out of classes. And then there's the museum, where I'm pretty much over my head. I mean, I must be the only one there without a degree…"
"Don't let that bother you." she consoled me, "I think you're just as smart as the rest of those students, and I can always take time off."
"But they need me, and I can't waste my year off."
"Yes, but I need you too." Her hand drifted up my arm and to my face. "And so does your family, and Ian." She stroked my cheek and quietly added, "It breaks my heart to see you like this, all upset and worried. You're making yourself sick."
"I know," I said, placing my hand over hers and holding it there, "I'll try to relax, for your sake."
"Forget about me," she smiled. "Do it for yourself."
I nodded, and we stayed there for long while, my hand still covering hers. And for a moment everything just slipped away and for the first time in weeks I felt calm and at peace. It was the kind of moment one only shares with a lover, the kind that take place in the morning hours when the day awaits and anything may happen. We could have stayed like that forever until the sound of the mail slot being opened and the post slapping against the floor caught our attentions. Seconds later it slapped shut and the skinny Doberman postman passed by the window.
"Like I said," she rose up and headed to the door, " go somewhere nice." Kiara disappeared from view and I could hear her retrieving the post. I meditated on the idea of a vacation, as I started a different piece, it was a simple waltz and I swayed slightly to its simple tune.
"That's not the same thing you were playing before," Kiara commented, looking through the stack of letters.
"No, I was playing Vivaldi's Spring, and now I'm doing one of Chopin's waltzes," I said, smiling to myself, as I danced around the room, counting my steps. She laughed at me, and plopped down on the couch. "Anything interesting my dear?" I asked, coming to a stop near her.
"Um, let me see…" She flipped through the envelopes muttering the names to herself until something caught her interest. "Oh, this one appears to be from the telegraph office," she plucked it out of the stack and examined the manila envelope.
"May I see?" I asked, but she had already begun tearing it open. "I guess not," I muttered to myself, making my way back to the window.
"It's from a Mr. Charles C. Hewitt," she announced.
"Oh good, I've been waiting to hear from him."
"Do you mind if I read aloud?" she asked. I nodded and she began, "Dear Mr. Ludlow, I am happy to inform you and Mr. Tarot that all is going according to schedule, and that we have almost the entire first floor mapped out and the main lobby almost cleared. By now I hope you have received all of the artifacts recovered and sent over to England, if not then please contact us immediately. Also, we have all been wondering about your health since news of your encounter with a human being reached us here in Egypt. And if they interview for any reason please do us the kindness of mentioning the expedition. It is our hope that doing so will increase our donor pool. As to conditions here, we are preparing to close the site for the summer months and we hope to see you and Mr. Tarot return once again in the fall…"
My mind had started to drift as Kiara continued reading. It wasn't her fault, she was a marvelous speaker, it was just that I had become absorbed in the movers again. They had just about finished and a few of the neighbors were standing by Mrs. Madison, hugging and crying a bit, probably wishing her goodbye. I also began to argue with myself over the reality of last night again. When something came to mind. Discretely, so as to not alarm Kiara with any more strange behavior, I opened my right palm and quietly examined it. There was no trace of the bite the human child had given me. At first, I felt myself go numb, suddenly terrified that I really had lost my mind, but then as I looked closer I could see a thick crescent shaped bump on my palm. Flipping my hand over, I found a matching one. Both appeared to be healed scars. That's impossible! I had only been bit last night! But I had never seen those scars before. As I quietly examined my hand, I could think of no explanation for the scars except that I hadn't been hallucinating last night. That of course meant I was still part human. I closed my hand tight and stared blankly out the window again, watching as Mrs. Madison climbed hesitantly into a taxi. It wasn't absolute proof, but there was no other way to explain…
" '…We have run into a spot of trouble.' " Kiara read, her ears perking at the word 'trouble'.
I turned to her suddenly, frightened at the proof of my encounter with the humans, and now at the horror that they may have found another footprint. That would be the end of it. No one would ever leave me alone, and worse yet, there would more humans to deal with. I rubbed my palm nervously with opposite hand, feeling the ridge of the scar. Why did it have to be real? The answer was of course; I didn't want it be me.
She looked up suddenly. "Something wrong dear?"
"No, nothing…" I stammered, then regaining my composure. "What was that about trouble?"
"Um, lets see," she muttered looking down at the letter again and reading silently. "Oh, yes here it is, apparently one of the Arab guides has a questionable past and their concerned about what to do with him."
"Oh," I said, relieved. "I guess that's not so bad."
Kiara studied me for a moment before letting the comment pass, but I could tell by her expression she thought it was strange. I turned back to the window just in time to see the movers pulling away from the Madison home, their chart laden with all the its former possessions. The taxi with Mrs. Madison was already long gone and for some reason I suddenly became very anxious. Glancing over my shoulder I looked back at Kiara as if to check to make sure she was still there. She was flipping causally though a fashion magazine when the old grandfather clock struck eleven thirty from the dining room.
She looked over at it, brushing away a piece of hair that had fallen out of place. I smiled a bit; she had no idea I was looking at her. That's the great thing about looking at people when they think no one's watching. In that moment you see a person's innermost thoughts. That's when you notice how beautiful they are.
She must have felt my eyes on her, and she turned. "Have you had lunch yet love?"
"No," I answered, and then suddenly I felt very lonely in the house and wanting desperately to get rid of the feeling so I suggested we got out to lunch.
"Really?" she asked, a little surprised. "After last night? Don't you think it's better to stay in today?"
"I'd rather go out with you," I said strutting over to her.
Kiara smiled, "We could just go over to my house and I could make something."
"No, no, no. I want to go out," I persisted with a sudden burst of energy.
"Fine," she sighed, then adding with a smile, "But I'm going home to change first."
I laughed. "Alright, just be quick."
She started to get up, but then paused. "Do you think this is what our lives will be like?" she asked with a soft smile, "Sitting around, opening mail, playing music?"
I was half way to my violin when she spoke. The thought made me sigh and I could keep the smile from my lips. "I'd hope so."
Suddenly she was up and moving towards the door, coat in hand, adding that I was to pick her up in ten minutes. I nodded and listened as the door shut behind her. Suddenly I was left alone, and house felt empty and cold again. I bit my lip and examined my hand again. The scars were still there, and the more I thought about it, the more I actually hoped and believed it was true. At least it meant I was sane, and that was better than any alternative, not just for my sake but also for hers. ~
*A brief note: Apologies for my lack of updates recently. Summer makes me lazy, but finally I was able to conquer my lethargy (thanks in part to a particular reader who called me out on it). So now I'm back with plenty of material to edit and post. Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask how everyone is enjoying the story so far. Because I really only do this for your enjoyment and need to know if somethings amiss. Keep in mind I plan heavily edit the very early chapters in the future. Sorry for the interruption.
Until next week,