It was nearly midnight before the musicians started laying down Lea’s favorite spell. The lamps had burned down to a flickering mimicry of yellow sunset, and the drums began to tap the air. They thudded and hummed, slow, steady, dragging out for a long moment while she began to grin and her heart seemed to steady itself against the beat. Then the guitars climbed on top, one high, one low, whirling like things freshly taught to fly, and she forgot how to keep her heels on the floor, or her hands at her sides, or her feet still.
Tamzen had a piano which sat in one sunny corner of the receiving hall. It was a thing of beauty, curves like waves that met with the firm angles of the keyboard so that the whole thing looked like an ocean breaking itself against a cliff face.
When she was younger, before it had been hers, she had sat for hours and imagined that it might sing like an ocean too, if it was played correctly. Her mother had played slow, somber things on it, and formal things, and never anything so sweet as a waterside breeze or lively as wave foam. Tamzen sat beside her, when her fingers were still too small and her hands too careless to be allowed to touch the keys, and she watched. She learned the sounds. She memorized each tone as her mother coaxed it from the piano, and sorted out her favorites.
Once, just once, in the dark of midnight, she crept down and pressed them. Just her favorites. One after the other, then two at a time to see how they sounded together, then three or four in rapid rolling motions to make them hum against each other. The sound echoed in the quiet house, and her heartbeat hammered and her fingers shook, and she looked over her shoulder every few seconds, certain her mother would hear her. After just a few minutes, she ran back upstairs. She never crept down again.
Answering questions in the only socially acceptable form of schizophrenia
Every fiction writer has a different way of managing their characters. I keep them housed in a large room, and occasionally fling the doors open to let them play. Here is some of the craziness that ensues:
Tybalt searched: Would any of your characters care to learn the words to “She Burned the Gallows Down”?
Terius: [watches me frantically searching the internet] Something’s wrong…
Zain: [watching as well] Very. She should know better than to click on bands with names like Leeches and Through the Dark Veil. Nothing good can come of reading their lyrics.
Terius: You’d better teach us quickly, Tybalt. There’s nothing more frustrating to her than searching the internet, not being able to find what she wants, and tripping over depressing, unpoetic things.
Me: [muttering] I will NOT forget myself. I am NOT going to burn in hell. I DO have redeeming features. I am NOT cold blooded, and you have no right to call me a love leech. You don’t even rhyme!
Zain: Quick, man!