Little Miss Wonder
LET THE MUSIC PLAY ON
Emily sat motionless in a brown, leather armchair. Her ears perfectly tuned in with the meandering melodies of 'The Mysteries' drifting across the room. Music and Bowie. Her only faithful companions. Always here for her. Powerful enough to lift her from the deepest of depressions and bathe her heart with comfort whenever she needed to feel alive. These days music was her absolute salvation from reality. The only thing left which she could truly feel a part of.
Reaching for her drink searching fingers probed air until they hit on cool, smooth glass. Such a simple act had become a frustrating burden, every little detail of life bled her will, stole her energy. How she detested the enforced veil of darkness. It had locked her within herself. The only escape from her shadowy prison was in the music.
The CD player fell silent. Emily leant her head on the back of the chair and sipped her drink. She could hear the vague drone of traffic in the distance. Other people would barely notice it but to her it was a constant, nagging whine. For this she was thankful. It served as a twisted reminder that she wasn't completely isolated as she sat alone in her flat.
Cautiously replacing the empty glass on the table Emily got up from the armchair feeling her way across the unlit lounge then into her bedroom. She undressed slowly, enjoying the sensation of fluid fabric sliding down her body. Emily wanted to dream tonight. She desperately needed those fragments of muted memory to swirl free through her mind. If the dreams came she could once again see.
The café felt humid and cosy. A pleasant feeling after battling against the relentless crowds which jostled through bitter, wind swept streets. Emily sat near the window. Her hands cupped delicate china as she relished the warmth slowly seeping from porcelain then through her numb fingers. She would sit there as she always did and listen to people chatting. Like a Listening Tom.
Emily started to fiddle nervously with an empty sugar sachet as she concentrated on the sounds which surrounded her. The clattering crockery, an airy rasp from the cappuccino machine in the corner, rain as it tapped a drizzly beat against the window. A Mother was organising her offspring. Her words dripped with authority as she reminded them to button up coats and recover lost gloves. Emily could pick out an older voice to her left. A petulant male tone complaining about a pushchair parked near the door. To her right, a couple were giggling as lovers do. Their voices flirtatious and over flowing with exuberance as they discussed plans for the coming weekend.
The closeness of the new voice startled Emily. Whoever it was she could detect his presence directly in front of her, a well spoken gentle voice and the most delicious, intoxicating aroma of musky perfume.
"May I sit here?"
Emily was aware her face was flushing her countenance now in the process of absorbing a red-tinged hue.
"Err, well, I suppose so, I'm going soon anyway."
"Thank you so much" the voice replied with an audible smile.
"I'm a teacher and sometimes my pupils can be a little, how can I say it, a little frustrating. They just don't listen. Only caffeine will soothe my exasperated nerves."
Emily sipped luke warm coffee unsure of what to say. She felt uncomfortable. Here she was a plain, blind girl sat in a café with a complete stranger. A deranged murderer complete with sharpened axe for all she was aware. But she knew she would have to stay a while longer just to listen to that hypnotic, calming and yet unsettling voice.
Sitting at that table by the window Emily had been totally entranced by his voice. The main topic of conversation was of their mutual passion. Music. He told her he taught music to who ever and where ever his services were required. She wondered what he looked like. He had long, silky hair. She had felt a strand brush across her hand as he leant over and whispered in a hushed tone, "You really should hear my music Emily."
Warm breath so very close to her skin.
"I know you have the ability to hear so much more than ordinary people do. I knew as soon as I saw you."
She could feel the intensity of his stare.
"Allow me to give you a gift Emily."
It was at that moment he had reached over and gently touched her face. He had barely caressed the contours of her features but she felt the intense energy as skin contacted skin. Understanding fingers swept over her cheekbones before his whole hand had enclosed her ears. She heard nothing else but the sound of her own short, rapid, eager breath. Exquisite waves of indescribable sensation had swept through every inch of her flesh. Her whole body quivered uncontrollably as intense energy permeated through her very being. She accepted it. Took all he had to give.
The rain had stopped as they said goodbye outside the café. Neither one mentioned the experience.
It didn't seem necessary. Emily was dazed, completely anaesthetized by what had happened. The only thing she was aware of was that something incredibly unique had occurred. Something felt different inside her. On the surface nothing had changed, and yet everything had.
Tonight the music offered Emily no comfort. She sat in the leather armchair as usual. Drink by her side, her favourite album blasting out through the gloom. Listening to the grinding guitars of 'Hang On To Yourself' she was aware of a murmur in the background. It wasn't the familiar traffic drone. She was sure of that. Walking back from the café she had noticed it, very faint at first but as the day had slid into the solitude of evening hours it had become more audible. It was almost as loud as her music and still she couldn't work out what it was. Now it formed an annoying mixture of frequencies mingling to form a persistent, maddening montage of sound which filtered through her brain.
She stood up abruptly hoping her movement in some way would ease the noise. Making her way along the familiar route to her bedroom she threw herself on her bed. She lay in the darkness, hands clasped over her ears in an attempt to blot out the noise which now filled her head. The noise was taking over. She felt a clenched fist of panic punch her insides. The noise was singing to her and she could hear its grotesque song loud and clear.
Instead of a confused jumble of tones she could distinguish each one. The screaming echo of every pain, horror, and unadulterated terror the world had to offer contained in a torturous, chaotic cacophony. Tears of revulsion and empathy streamed down from dead eyes. She could hear what no one else wants to hear. Nothing would ever silence it. She had been chosen to receive the gift. As Emily closed her eyes to the sounds of fear she realized this monstrous music would play on, and on...
Little Miss Wonder.
14 March 2004.