Ghost Music (extract)

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Sylvia trembled as she reached up to open the window, her legs rubbing against a bedpost. She never slept and her eyes felt heavy. But she forgot everything when the music began.

    She turned her head to better concentrate. The incredible sound that she heard every night was not that of any particular instrument. There were no discernible notes; cadence changed like a voice and it never slowed or paused. Sylvia opened her mouth to drink the lilting sound and absently rubbed her white nightgown.

    She listened so every night; it was the most important part of her life. Sylvia

daydreamed too much to have many or close friends; she could never motivate herself to feign interest in the things that animated her classmates. She was never conspicuously lonely in that she never sat alone but she held all her relationships so lightly that she would not have cared if everyone she knew disappeared. She was sentient only when playing her violin. Sylvia knew her music to be a poor imitation of that which spoke to her every night and that made her playing, like herself, melancholy. When parents and neighbours complained of noise, she pressed her head against the instrument and played to herself.

    She floated through sleepless years. The characteristic marks of exhaustion

became such a fixed part of her features that no one commented on them anymore. Sylvia ignored the things that others valued so highly- puberty, exams, birthdays; she spent her sixteenth birthday wishing it was over so she could practice. Thereafter, she climbed out of her bedroom window at night, leaning against a wall to better listen. She tiptoed to the bathroom afterwards to wash brick stains out of her nightgown.

by Mark Reece                                   Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.