Unfinished Sympathy

By Taleya

Sherlock Holmes possessed a mind which - as he so often said himself - rebelled at stagnation. It craved input, challenges, activities to tax and divert. It was only when starved of this peculiar mental fodder that it would turn on itself in furious cannibalism, that he would turn to the insidious lure of drugs to occupy himself, a dark depression sweeping over him.

There was no clearer indicator of his moods than the tunes composed and played upon his violin. I have heard him coax the purest of adagios from the instrument, sounds that seem to transcend the mere crude human assembly of wood and catgut and drift into something purer, almost sublime; something even my literary talents can never hope to accurately portray. Other times it has toppled us into the very depths of hell itself, each tone descending lower and lower down a fire-wreathed staircase, the shrieks of the infernally damned seeming to rent the air, turning our rooms somehow into a darker plane, the very shadows from the gaslight seeming to writhe and dance to his macabre tune.

I have long thought that it was these moments that brought me the most disquiet. Those were the times when Holmes seemed not of this place, his face lit in porcelain, something too fragile, too brilliant to exist in the crude muddled existence of our world. It seemed that he would burn out, like a single, brilliant mayfly with a lifespan of but a day and it was all I could do to hold myself back from dragging him into my arms, from anchoring him, fearing that he would be swept away from me.

Many times I have been soothed to sleep by his playing and many times I have awoken in a stark, nameless terror at the abruptly ceased scrape of bow on string, the discordant sound produced when the bow is dragged away from the tune with a sharp motion - as if the player were suddenly removed from the realm mortal.

It wasn't until I returned to the hollow, silent rooms in Baker street and saw it laying carelessly upon the settee that the reality of my life struck me. I had been oddly detached in the Continent, answering police questions and political matters by rote. The thundering waters of Reichenbach, the harried mass of footprints upon the path, the final note nestled close to my breast in an inside pocket even now - all of these had seemed steeped in shadow, to possess the unreal quality of Morpheus' work.

But when I saw the violin laying there, waiting the return of a master who would never come...my dream was finally shattered.

There would be no more sweeping adagios.

No more descents of a disquieting nature.

No more nights where I would awaken, heart pounding and ears straining even as my beloved Mary slept beside me, convinced I had somehow heard the discordance of broken notes from our home away from Holmes.

Holmes was gone, lost to the rocks and the water; lost to the grasp of Moriarty, lost to the final fate that all men must face, even in triumph. He was lost to me, and a large part of my soul was lost with him.

I stroked a soft, hesitant finger over the strings, hoping to hear some echo of my brilliant, fallen friend, to derive some comfort, some thought that not all of him was gone, but the violin would not play for me.