I walk down the dark hallway
My footsteps echoing eerily
I think I hear a strain of music
The haunting melody
Remembrance of a better time
I look at the peeling wallpaper
The mildew-stained ceiling
The worn threadbare carpet
And then-
I can see the gold gilt on the walls
The creamy white paneling
The royal red I stand upon
The music rises in beautiful swells
Laughter and chatter fill the air
I walk down the passageway
Enter the doorway at the end
Stop and gaze in wonder
Crystal chandeliers swinging gently from the frescoed ceiling
Silk-covered tables abundant with food
Richly dressed men and women dancing and talking
Then my eyes fall upon the musicians
Their strong hands gripping the instruments they know so well
Their feet tapping in time with the music
Their eyes flicking between the pages of music and each other's faces
I weave through the noisy crowd
Try to get to the chamber ensemble at the other end of the room
I hold my beloved violin tight against me
And walk up to the concertmaster
Tap, tap, tap
He turns around and I smile
But he glares at me
I know I'm late
I try to explain
But the music stops
The dancers stop swaying
All sounds cease
And they all stare
And stare
And stare
Until I, looking back, can no longer see clearly
The outlines of their faces, their hands, their feet
And then-
I am gazing at the dust-layered ballroom floor
A stray decaying table stands off to the side of the room
I can see my footprints, the only ones showing
Leading up to the lonely bandstand
And I gently
Oh so gently
Open my case
Wind the ancient bow
Place the violin to my chin
And I play

The music seems to fill the room once more
And I seem to be looking out upon the glamorous ballroom
Standing before the wide audience
I smile slightly:
I will make up for my absence now.