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“Music speaks what cannot be expressed,
Story Notes: Originally published in 2001. Edited circa 2005.
Soothes the mind and gives it rest,
Heals the heart and makes it whole,
Flows from heaven to the soul.”
From the moment I first saw him, I wanted him like I’ve never wanted anything before in my life. The concept of “want” was something new to me; I wanted nothing that I didn’t need, and I needed only what kept me alive. I would surely not perish if I didn’t have Quatre . . . but I am not sure that I would quite be living if living were without him.
Did I need him? Not really.
Did I want him? Yes.
And I thought, as I stood upon the heavy bay door of Heavyarms’ cockpit with my hands raised in surrender, as I stared at the delicate picture of perfection that was smiling mercifully before me, I would do anything in the name of God or otherwise just to touch him once.
That was a first for me, and as time passed I realized that I would have killed just to look at him, to know him. It was beyond my wildest dreams that Quatre Raberba Winner would have even dared to call me an acquaintance. It was unheard of that he would eventually call me a comrade. And it was enough to shatter my mind to pieces the day that he called me his friend. I would have happily died on that day if death meant that those words would be spoken to me, even once.
But in that particular way of mine, I failed to even respond when Quatre said that he considered me a friend. I was in shock; I’d never had a friend before in my life, not a real one. And as all these emotions came thundering down upon my fragile heart, I realized for the first time in my life that I lacked the common knowledge of expressing anything in return. I felt like a man with no eyes being told to read a book; it simply cannot be accomplished, and since I lacked the tools to express emotion, at least tools that had not been used in so long, what followed was a very awkward moment for both of us.
Quatre is my mirror opposite. He bubbles with emotion and has no problem expressing it at all. I envy that ability, as I envy him, not hatefully, mind you—it is a melancholy sadness that fills me when I hear him laugh, when I see him smile or break into tears or fly into a rage. Everyone knows what Quatre feels, when he feels it. His body language and heart can be so easily read that it must become bothersome when he wishes to hide such feelings from others.
What attracted Quatre to me I have no idea. I suppose like two magnets we were drawn together by our opposing forces. I was reclusive, he was gregarious. I was cold, he was warm. I was introverted, he was outgoing. I was darkness while he was light.
But I cannot be completely inhuman, can I? The one thing that Quatre and I share and the first thing that brought us to bond was our deep appreciation of music. Perhaps music is my mode of communication where my mouth fails: through my flute I speak the emotions that I feel buried deep within me, and through this tool I carry no fear of stumbling or saying the wrong thing. Music is the flawless language that succeeds where I fall short. It speaks for me, and it speaks better than I think I ever shall.
Perhaps Quatre finally saw a glance into me the day we sat in his parlor and improvised together. My heart flutters when I think that word: together. When I look back on it, what we did was not unlike when two people make love. Quatre initiated with his violin, fingers bravely dancing across the strings while he stood before a total stranger at his most vulnerable. Then I, perhaps inspired by his courage, picked up a flute and we found a rhythm to go by, an easy rhythm that allowed us both the benefit of figuring out what notes to play next. Our improvisation was perfect, and never once did our chords clash with one another. It was as if we had both memorized a song we had known years before and were playing it together for the thousandth time.
The tempo became faster as we both noticed how well we fit together, eager to plunge almost recklessly into complicated rhythms, trills and melodies. Our fingers danced upon our instruments, the tangible analogies of our hearts singing to one another, and the music reached a crescendo, our thoughts flying as swiftly as our hands and aching from the strenuous activity that clutched us both by the soul and refused to let go.
And finally, after a last run of sixteenth notes and a cadence that ended on a hanging note that we both decided to play at the same time, we paused in the sudden overwhelming silence and listened to the echo of our union ring out of existence. And we lowered our instruments and our aching arms, catching our breath and gazing at each other as if we had no idea that we were capable of creating such harmony. Two people, two strangers who barely knew anything of each other save their names, had suddenly connected on a level that went deeper than either of them had ever thought capable, on a level thought only possible to be achieved by two souls who had known each other since the beginning of time. The music of lovers, of soul mates, of friends for a million years . . . and we had bypassed time altogether and become a single living soul in just eight minutes.
Quatre set his violin to the side and looked hesitant, as if confused by our perfect syncopation and yet slightly pink-cheeked and giddy with excitement. “That was marvelous,” he murmured, looking at me with those large blue eyes. He smiled in that adoring way of his and added, “We should do this again sometime.”
Oh, but he didn’t know how much I desired it from that moment thereafter. I thought I wanted Quatre when I first laid eyes on him; it suddenly became clear to me that I had never known what want felt like before this moment. I sat devoid of words and expression as I always did, and thought about how much I would like to walk over to Quatre and just pour myself into him. For the first time in my life, I wanted to kiss somebody. I wanted to embrace somebody and hold them close, bare flesh to bare flesh, to feel the warmth and the pulsing heart against my own. I wanted to unleash passion that I had kept bottled up for so long, and I wanted to give it away to someone . . . and that someone happened to be Quatre.
But why would he want my misplaced passion? Why would he want my tattered heart? What could make him want my silence, my stoicism, my negativity, my cold, my isolation, my everything that was not and could never be anything that he loved? If I had been sure that I had a heart then, it surely would have broken after this thought.
I looked away, terrified for a moment that Quatre’s empathic sensitivity would declare what I was feeling and frighten him. I imagined that I must have been quite a frightening person to him, a tall, lanky and dour boy with dark hair, dark eyes and an even darker past. Compared to the brightness and cheer of Quatre, I felt like a briquette of frozen coal.
I stood clumsily to my feet, replaced the borrowed flute and gracelessly made my exit, never once commenting on Quatre’s suggestion of getting together again. I left, simple as that. But my heart was aching, so perhaps I indeed had one back then. If so, this was the first I had ever felt it beat.
I later came to realize, after the wars and spending years in Quatre’s affectionate company, that making love is quite a lot like making music, except there’s no score to follow, no idea of what lies beyond the next turn of the sheet. It is heated and passionate and you give it your everything to make it perfect, to never miss a note, to never blunder a beat. But all the anxiety of creating perfection fades away as you fall over the edge of that crescendo, and then slowly follow the path down from euphoria in a gentle rallentando of sighs, whispers and loving promises that are as strong as the heart that forged them.
And as I lay here contemplating, with Quatre’s warm cheek pressed to my breast and his pale golden hair being sifted through my idle fingers, I realize how right it seems for lovers to say to one another: “We can make beautiful music together”.
And I cannot help but smile.