Some say it was the song she played, alone with me in the music room, for she was shy. I hardly knew her, yet when she placed her fragile fingers on the keys and played, first softly, I was crushed. The tune rose and fell in drops like melted butter, the notes, lenient and long, reminding me of every lost and long-known feeling all at once, and the way it struck me, it was too much, too much.
I was a middle age middle school music teacher the day I fell in love with her, thirteen year old, slim-structured Isabel. From that moment on she owned me, memory and movement, driving me from sanity, ever second since.
I closed my eyes, it was so painful, every key pushed pulling the strings of my heart, the melody a sudden reminder of memories and moments of loss and passion I did not know lived in me. When she pressed the last notes of beauty, tears were misting in my eyes and I thought Oh God, I Am In Trouble, and I was. Because from that moment on, as her spine straightened and she looked at me softly, searching like the snowflakes falling silently outside the windows, I was hopelessly and unrecoverable in love with her, in love and lost in a small-built breastless girl, a child, they’d later say.
A tall dark-haired man, he said his name was Mark, sat down next to me once with a notebook and told me the reason might be that in early childhood, I lost a sister, a girl so dear to me I’d since been searching for her in melodies and young girl’s faces. He didn’t understand. It was her fingers on the keys and the music she played that bound me, and I am convinced that had you heard her song, you too would have fallen at her feet, forgetting age and common sense.
Only once did I hear her song. Once and then the half of it, to be fair, for I said again although I could hardly speak, and again she played, shattering me and building me up from nothing with pure scales of highs and lows. Stop, I said, for it was too painful. She did so immediately, her lips parting as she stared at me, scared like a girl wearily standing by a creature with claws, not knowing the beast is more afraid of her than she is of it. Stop, Isabel, stop.
And so only a few scarce seconds did I hear her song, but it was enough to make worth it a lifetime spent waiting for it and a lifetime spent longing for it since.
You don’t want to hear it? She spoke softly, her voice small and unsure. My fingers trembling, I gazed at her feathery form, wanting nothing more than to say I Want To Hear Everything You Play, Everything, yet I didn’t. Instead, I asked her questions, insignificant questions asked only to hear her voice, also melodious. Name: Isabel Lena Sawyer, Isa to friends. Thirteen years old, youngest of three siblings. Likes blueberries, doesn’t like peanut butter sandwiches. Then, all of a sudden, laughter. I don’t remember what I said to induce it, but little bubbles of mirth trickled from her throat, her cheeks a pallid pink, pale winter sunlight swimming softly through her hair. It was so beautiful it took my breath away, and parting my lips, I was so in love the way only men of old age can be, knowing very well lenient young girls are no longer for their eyes, but perhaps even more so, that childhood is long lost.
Mesmerized by her music and her mood, mermaid-like in how she moved her hands, I did not notice what she used them for was closing her book bag, the ringing of a bell somewhere in the room. No, I wanted to say, closing the doors and windows, capturing her for me to hold and hear play forever. Yet I sat frozen and did not understand such a lovely being was moving away from me or that she had been in the room in the first place.