Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this and I make absolutely nothing from playing with them.
No spoilers past early Season 4.
Sounds of the Past in B-flat
The wood creaks as you sit, revealing the keys in a Cheshire grin and it feels like an introduction. The sound as familiar as the scent that surrounds you; oak, musk and aging without decay. It's a good beginning.
The music is almost where you left it, and you wouldn't have noticed, if you weren't good at your job. If you weren't as observant as Charlie is lax. Because you know he was the one to touch the pages and without really trying you can see him here, hands fluttering across the notes, trying to remember, trying to read through your mother's language. And then putting it back in place, a guilty look like the one of your younger years as he realises he doesn't want you to know he noticed.
You huff a laugh because you're pretty certain that's exactly how it happened and in your head you build up a series of notes that sound just like him. You've always done that. Put music to the story of your life, but it took seeing your mother's soundtrack to notice.
You flick through the music, trying to choose a track that feels like today, and if you hum a few bars while you search, Charlie's still out at CalSci and your dad won't be home for hours, so no one is going to hear how bad you sound. Or worse, how good.
You'd quite like to say you stumbled across the empty house, and if anyone asks that's exactly what will come out of your mouth. The truth is you planned it this way; the quiet, the emptiness, because this is something only you can share with your mother. You know Charlie has his beliefs about why she kept her secrets, but you were more like her than your brother will acknowledge and you held her hand when she ordered your father away, when she knew the pain would be too much. And you know that she needed the silence. She needed the loneliness of an empty family home and the guilt of a secret she could have shared.
It's not like Charlie's numbers of your dad's fish. Music comes from emotions and only the strong ones write anything great. And you know this because as you play you know just which ones she wrote on school day mornings and the ones composed across hiking weekends. It makes you think of a diary and you only know there's no shame because she left them out for you. She knew one day you would find them, you're sure of that and the thought makes you smile and stop the relentless search.
The first notes are cautious, solitary, like the first steps after hibernation and you can feel yourself waking up with each press of the keys. Spring, you think, soon after you and Charlie refused more lessons. There's melancholy in the tune and little echoes of the mistakes you both made that had her laughing from the kitchen door. There's the hard note that's just a little too loud, and the scrabble of notes that makes you feel like your fingers are slipping between keys. You used to wince when Charlie pressed too hard and you hated when you couldn't keep your fingers in line. The song opens up and the air swirls with her music and even though you barely remember hearing her play, you have to work hard to remind yourself it's your hands on the piano not hers.
You can hear her now, the silences surrounding her that she worked to fill and the beat speeds up until individual notes are hard to spot and when you pause because she changed a note and it throws you for a moment, you choose to start all over again; this piece wasn't made for pauses. You play through it again and the past is still fighting hard against the present and it probably should make you sad, but the composition won't allow for that. You're sure she wrote it that way and if it were a song the words would make you laugh.
When it's over you start again and keep on going round and round until your fingers know the music without your eyes and closing them you can see everything you're feeling.
You have a sudden thought and know that she hummed this to you once when you were sick, and maybe you should have remembered that before but she slowed it down. You try that and find it works better than it should. Still no silences, but now you think of time moving backwards and days getting dark. This is you coming home hiding scratches and bruises because Charlie slipped down a crack and your dad had to hold your ankles tight when you pulled him out, and you never told but your mother always knew. And as you get to the changed note you know why it's there because the old one doesn't work so well and you smile because that's what she would have done when she fixed it.
A car pulls up outside and you're back in the present. The echo is there as you hide the ivory smile beneath the wood without regret. The moment's finished and it's just in time; a new song will start and that's perfect, you need that. Charlie's steps crunch up the path and locking the door behind you earlier gives you a few more seconds now. You flip to the back of her pieces and measure the empty pages between your thumb and finger. There are notes in your head for the scene about to start and the ones that will come when you're alone again and the corners of your eyes crinkle with her smile when you put the pages down just in time.
The door slams and Charlie's bag thumps as he tosses it to the floor and his footsteps match the bouncing of his head when you see him and you wince at his hum. He's still hitting those notes too hard. But your smile stays easily in place and you know that at least for today, you've stopped slipping.
In the distance a woman laughs and a high B sounds in you ear. The music goes on.