Detriments in a measure
It's not what you hear in a melody that gets stuck in your head. It's not the resonance of each string and key in either the violin or the piano that consoles your intuition into a game where you're lost and finding the way to understand why you were lost in the first place. It's not even the basic vibration from an instrument that infiltrates your senses, consuming, beckoning and immortalizing the very awe you felt. It's not what you hear. It's what you don't listen to that seemed to strike you as what music is truly about. It's what got your heart beating. It's what you longed to seek but didn't know the initial step to do so. You weren't looking but it finds you. You never believed but it believes in you.
Tsukimori Len loved that silent note, the note between the many intervals of sounds he can find in a piece. For many years he reached the perfection of performing the violin. He wasn't completely surrendered to the essence of his talent. To him it was a simple chore to accomplish, to please his parents, to gain his mother's legacy as a proud musician. It wasn't anything to embrace, the gift of music...it wasn't anything to love.
A few months ago, he joined the interschool concourse. He wanted recognition. He was great. He was excellent even. Music is competition. Simply playing a beautiful melody isn't worth it without earning a title next to it. Tsukimori played for no audience but for the prize. He played for no one. He cared for no one when he played music. In his mind, whenever he plays the violin, there was no spirit or heart, just the sound, the never-ending piercing sounds of his strings. Each time his fingers touch the strings, there was an exquisite harmony formed among them.
Yes, the gift of music. He had it yet he never got it. He had perfected it but he never loved it fully, by each spin, by each frill wrapped on it.
He didn't despise it, too. It was just there, perhaps within him, waiting to be ultimately recognized as part of him. Perhaps another time when he plays the violin, it will rise from the flames and appear.
During the practice for the concourse, Tsukimori fell in love. At first he didn't think it was that but he fell in love with another violin's music. The person who held the particular violin mattered little to him but each day he noticed the player and the music she creates. Each day he understood the bothering sensation not just in his ears but in his soul. That violin was enchanted and the player who owned it was mystical.
Her name was Hino Kahoko. Tsukimori loved her music even more as he hears it every morning and afternoon. It wasn't better than his. It was flawed too, sometimes even whimsical and breakable. It wasn't perfect like his. The structure of her training was a little shaky. It was merely something honest, something rare. It has more silent notes. It played more emotions than he could ever convey.
He didn't worship the music she creates with her violin. It simply became a reminder of his failure to love the tunes his own violin creates. He pretended to practice with an unwavering attention but he was disturbed why she can play it so sincerely as if the music itself was real and tangible. Tsukimori hated her and admired her for the sheer ability to speak it through the sounds.
The silent note, that was her secret. It's not really in her music, it was in her playing. There were even words there that she expressed so clearly yet still a mystery to him. It was just her music that baffled him. Her person is simply nonexistent to him up until now. But they see each other and they talk to each other. He even tells her to take care of her fingers and even advises her to observe her posture in a mirror while holding the violin. He helped her adjust the strings when she replaced them. He let himself fall asleep in her shoulder when he caught a fever one time. All of these circumstances made him able to be close to the mystical player. It didn't matter to him. Hino was just a girl who can play the violin so puzzlingly. That was all she was to him. Not anymore.
Tsukimori knew she was a world he wanted. His life composed mainly of the expectations his parents and the other people around him had because he was a musical prodigy. With her he was simply a beginner trying to learn a new way to be somebody he can create through music. The first time they met she listened to him play and she was astounded with his skill and said words that immediately rattle him. He heard far too many compliments and deceptive flattery but hers...were honest, just like her music, just like those eyes.
She said she is always looking forward to his performance during the concours even though she is also a contestant and should worry about her own. When she performs, god, she's almost inviting! He never showed it. It's not like he's hiding it. He was just clumsily unaware of the growing passion he had for her and her music. He didn't know how to say it. He didn't know how to play it exactly in a violin. He wished they would be more of silent notes that could surpass the melody of ache. He wanted it to be real like she is with her honest playing. He wanted to be better than perfection. He wanted her.
One quiet afternoon, he played for her and she joined him. Their violins did the most incredible thing. It was like the time when his father played the violin and his mother played the piano. It was music only two people can create. The silent notes on the intervals of their strings start to unravel depths. Tsukimori let his violin sing to her not only in sound but in words:
I had a dream I have you in my arms and you stayed
I had a dream you were mine and you never left me
Her violin sang back as they reached higher tones together:
I had known you from before
I had known the secret you didn't know you keep
He closed his eyes, struggling to harmonize with her, tugging at each note, striking each string with his bow, throwing back his head to accumulate more space to fill his own need to be affirmed in greater ways that only she could give him.
She responded to him all throughout the time they played. It was more than music, he knew. It was what his parents had whenever they play together. It was beauty in its finest form. It was a world he knew was his. Hino brought it back and he wants her to live in it too.
"That was really beautiful, wasn't it, Tsukimori-kun?" she remarked politely as they were heading away from the school.
He didn't reply. The power earlier already distraught him and left him in vain. He wanted more.
Hino looked across him worriedly. "Is something the matter, Tsukimori-kun?"
He stopped in his tracks to face her. She was looking at him curiously. He held her stare and she blinked. "Tsukimori-kun, you're starting to worry me—"
"I'm in love, Hino."
"Eh?" a faint blush colored her cheeks.
"I'm in love...with music and you taught me how to be." He declared it without even feeling embarrassed. He wasn't the romantic type. He didn't stammer with awkward confessions about adoration. He was straightforward. He wanted to just let it out flat and watch how people take it. Hino was certainly surprised but she listened.
"Hino, let's play music like that again...until...the end of time, Hino."
"Stop saying stupid phrases. This is a serious matter."
"I'm not!" Hino was fuming, her cheeks a darker red now. "It's just that, by the way you talk, it's like you're proposing to me—"
He raised his eyebrows and it was his turn to look surprised.
Hino immediately apologized for the misconception and started to fumble through appropriate responses. She was always so easily disgruntled. She was always so unlady-like and bashful. Tsukimori didn't like that quality in her. It was a contrast with her violin-playing. Or maybe it's not.
"Tsukimori-kun," she was smiling softly now, "you're formal and decent as always and you make me nervous when you talk to me like that. What is it that you're trying to tell me? I can't really get it."
"I want to play with you again...forever, Hino. The music we share is true and beautiful. We can have it. Just say yes."
"Tsukimori-kun—I just don't think—I still don't get it! You're starting to freak me out. What are you—what is it that you—?"
"I'm serious about this, Hino."
"Serious about what?" she looks flustered in every angle and she took a step back. Tsukimori frowned at her reaction.
"It looks like you're not ready."
"Are you—by any chance, Tsukimori-kun, are you asking me for something...else...entirely different from music?"
"What? This is about music, Hino. Are you dumb?" He was irritated with her answers. Of course, it's about music! What else could she be expecting? It's what he can give her and what he wanted her to give him. Music!
"Oh yeah!" she laughed nervously and scratched her head.
Tsukimori tried to read her expression. He's always been very observant. So he tried to read her. When he made his mind up about it, he asked point-black, "did you think I was asking for sex?"
A landmine. A huge one at that. He stepped on it and Hino was a deep shade of scarlet the moment he said it.
"Tsukimori-kun!" she covered her face.
Tsukimori tried not to blush openly. "Gomen, but you were, right? I didn't mean to give you the wrong impression. I'm not that vulgar."
"I know, I know! I misunderstood! Gomen, Tsukimori-kun!" Hino was waving her arms like a total idiot. It irritated him so he took her wrists to stop the movements. She stared at him, mouth open. He stared back. They stood like that for a long time.
"Hino..." he started but didn't know what to say exactly. The silence provided him a chance to look at her face up-close. She was plain, not even pretty, not that he cared for physical qualities but she is charming. Tsukimori let go of her arms and flipped his hair in annoyance. "We should get home."
"Ah, can I go to your place for a while to borrow some CDs? I really need to listen to new ones to practice on. If you don't mind..."
"No, no, most certainly not. My parents aren't home anyway."
They reached his house and they entered silently. He asked her if she'd like something to drink and she requested for water. She started browsing on the filed collection of classical music CDs on the cabinet. Tsukimori watched her.
It was music only two people can create. The silent notes on the intervals of their strings start to unravel depths.
He wanted to be better than perfection. He wanted her.
Tsukimori let his violin sing to her not only in sound but in words.
Her violin sang back as they reached higher tones together.
He walked towards her and once she felt him standing close, she bulged and looked up, suddenly startled. "Tsukimori-kun?"
"This sounds awfully wrong and vague, Hino, but may I kiss you?"
Annoying. She should do something about blurting gibberish.
"You opened the conversation to that direction anyway."
Hino frowned and scolded him. "I misunderstood! And besides you shouldn't sneak behind me and ask for that! It's...it's...disgusting! There!"
She looked like she wanted to push him away but she stayed glaring at him. He looked back at her calmly.
"When I said earlier that I'm in love with music, Hino, I also meant something else. Maybe it's not really just music I was trying to have with you. Maybe I like you, Hino and I just want it to be done with. I need you to help me. I need to know if I really feel this way about you."
He gently touched her cheek. She was shaking a little and she tried not to show it.
He leaned closer, inhaling the scent of her hair. She didn't move or maybe she couldn't. Their faces were almost an inch apart and he found his eyelids half-closed. Her eyes were blurred before him but he could see them closing as well. He could feel her breath. He could feel his lips touching hers with uncertainty. He felt the softness. He pressed his lips for pressure and felt the softness of her lips gradually sinking against his. Five seconds pass and he felt her arms shyly climbing up and snaking around his neck. He leaned his palms on the cabinet to avoid crushing his weight against hers. She pulled him closer.
They separated for a while, looking at each other, faces blank. Then he leaned down again this time to take her mouth and she willingly parted her lips to allow him access. It was wet, tongue against tongue, a void being occupied by slow anticipation and anxiety. He held her by the waist this time, his other hand on her cheek to kiss her deeper. Her right hand was on his head, her fingers moving through his hair.
Tsukimori loved her music. It wasn't better than his. It wasn't perfect like his. It was merely something honest, something rare.
"Tsukimori-kun—" she suddenly pulled away and tried to take breaths. She looked at him, lost and confused with what they shared.
"Hino," he said, unable to resist and hide from the emotion, afraid that he would drift far away if he didn't admit it. "I want all the same things like you do and I want them with you."
"Please stop saying my name and answer me properly."
"I wanna go home."
"Hino, please." Begging. He was begging for her affirmation.
"Tsukimori-kun—I just need to go home now, gomen nasai." She bowed and started to walk away from him.
"See you at school, Hino." He simply called after her, not even longing they would cross paths again but hoping this wasn't a mistake in his part.
She stopped by the doorway but didn't look at him." You've been very kind to me, Tsukimori-kun. I just need to stay away from you, if you don't mind."
He said nothing.
"You got me into music in the first place. I couldn't forget your violin and 'Ave Maria.' It still rings in my ears."
He looked down at the floor.
"Tsukimori-kun, please don't be mad. I just don't want to cause a mess if I—but I wanted to be truthful with you, I do! Tsukimori-kun!"
She finally faced him. He looked at her. She smiled. "I'd like to create music with you again. But there are some things I need to sort out and now isn't the time to think about these things, Tsukimori-kun."
He stood still, memorizing the detail of her presence.
"You've been kind, Tsukimori-kun." She closed the door and left.
In solitary, he whispered, "I love you, Hino."
A silent note, a note between the many intervals of sounds, one you don't hear, one that was never sought, one that lingers in the air when everything else ceases to be there. Tsukimori Len loved that silent note. He loved that world.
Most of all, he finally learned to love music when he loved Hino Kahoko.