ANDANTE

"Where were you last night?"

Damp raindrops slam the earth. A dense layer of mist hangs low upon the city. Puddles cultivate on the ground, filling cracks and crevices with polluted water. A red liquid seeps into the pools, showing a hellish reflection of the gaunt, destroyed man above them.

The pistol slips from his fingers, careening towards the ground. It lands with a clatter, shattering open the mirrored surface of the bloody puddle.

The woman lies before him, tangled tendrils of hair frenzied across the asphalt. The hole in her stomach is gushing.

I was dancing among the stars, chasing after my dreams. The night was shrieking my lullaby. That's where I was last night. Couldn't you hear it?

She gazes at him with emptying eyes, as if a splash of milk had filmed over her stare. Her thin fingers painstakingly crawl towards the fallen gun.

"You heard it last night. My nighttime lullaby. Right?"

The woman lifts up the pistol, her arms shaking. Each beat of her heart sends another wave of life from her system. She is dying.

"You knew, didn't you? You heard it, too. The song of the sirens."

The safety trigger releases with a gentle click. A soft entrance to the booming forte.

"You didn't need to ask me where I was, because you knew. You were there, too, weren't you? You were there. But you didn't help me make the music, did you?"

"Stop it, David," the woman croaks. "Stop it."

"I know you wanted to, though. So I made it for you," he continues. "With you."

The police sirens begin to sound. They know the crack of a gunshot when they hear it. David closes his eyes. "It's the music, Jessica. It's the music."

He is smiling for the first time in months.

"Aren't you glad? Rain and sirens and gunshots. I love the delirium of a presto."

"David, this isn't music. You don't write music anymore."

"The tempo is so wonderful. All we need is a melody."

"David!"

She fires.

The bullet plants itself into his chest. He blinks, spouting out the monosyllable 'oh'. Staggering, he stumbles back. His body hits the wall, and he slides down to the floor. His brows scrunch together as his eyes gradually shut.

"I can hear my heartbeat, Jessica," he rasps. "It's weird. It used to be allegro. It's slow now. What's going on?"

Jessica closes her eyes. Everything has become a blur. Even the music.

"Jessica," David reiterates helplessly. "Jessica, help me. Why is it andante?"

Police wheels screech to a stop. The slick water streams from the sudden halt, splashing on the asphalt. Footsteps as the officers fast approach.

David wonders, briefly, why his music ended slowly.