If it's Twilight, it's Stephenie Meyer's. If not, it's mine.

Thank you as ever to my beta and friend, Red. This would be crap without you. Loves, babe.

To the Girls. I love ya something fierce. ;)

This was originally written for the I'm With the Band Contest hosted by The Wayward Pushers. I was glad to be a part of it!

The Girl and the Piano

Foreword

Loneliness can't kill you, but it can come pretty fucking close.

I've been lonely for as long as I can remember and I know exactly how close it can get.

I have the scars to prove it.

I was alone in my apartment after spending Christmas by myself and my electricity was cut off due to non-payment.

I was as low as a person could get, so I attempted to swallow a bullet.

Some-fucking-how, I managed to survive. With long hours, days, and months of extensive rehab and counseling, I found my way back to the land of the living.

Other than the small scar at the back of my neck where they removed the bullet, there are no visible signs of my near-death experience. However, my voice is far from what it once was. When I was in the hospital, the doctors and nurses insisted it didn't sound bad, but to me, it was terrible. My voice became low and gravelly, not at all the melodic, lilting sound I was used to.

I grew angry.

I stayed angry.

I learned to cope with my intense anger and loneliness by channeling it through the beautiful ivory and black keys of my piano. I can deal with the achingly solo life I lead for the most part now, but it still gets overwhelming at times. When it gets to be too much, I sit myself down and abuse my instrument.

At some point, I decided I wanted to keep all of my anger-filled notes somewhere concrete, and since I couldn't write music to save my fucking life, I got a job so I could purchase the equipment to record my music onto CD's.

No one would be able to understand a thing about my organizational methods, but it works for me. My disks are labeled with titles such as: Flat Broke, Rotten Milk, and P.M-fucking-S. They are named for their inspiration. Things that irritated, frustrated, and plain old pissed me off. Flowery, sunshine-sounding notes aren't things that come naturally to me. I tried, once, to write a piece about a beautiful, picturesque sunset I'd seen. All that came out of it was a bitter-sounding, monotonous ditty.

I'm an unhappy person.

*O*O*

Looking at the gray partitions of my cubicle, I feel suffocated. I don't know why I put up with this horribly mundane job.

To eat.

Who needs food?

To record your music.

Yeah, I guess…

I sigh and get back to work, wishing I could be far away from here.

As the day passes, I type, print, copy and sort. I sit back for a moment, close my eyes, and rest a stack of warm memos against my nose, inhaling the clean scent of freshly copied paper with the rich smell of coffee lingering in the room. This smell – the "office" smell - is like a drug to me. Through my tedious days I find it oddly soothing. Sometimes I think it's the only thing keeping me from impaling myself on a pair of scissors.

With the papers pressed against my nose, getting my fix for the day, I feel a pair of eyes on me. Trying to inconspicuously breathe in once more before I lay the papers down, I suck in a slow, deep breath, pulling the scent into my sinuses and lungs. Relaxing my chest, I let the air out as quietly as possible and turn around.

There is a man – a man I've never seen before - staring at me from the break room window.

My first reaction is to glare and turn away, but there is something about him that makes me stare right back.

His eyes are green. I can see that from here. I've never seen such a vivid green before.

I'm held, spellbound, by his gaze until a coworker steals his attention.

The day continues like normal, except for one thing.

I wish I could have spoken to him.

*O*O*

I sit at my piano and begin to warm up, running my fingers up and down the keys, stretching them out.

That done, I lower my eyelids and let my fingers fly over the ivory, picking out notes and creating the most haunting melody I've ever heard. There's not one harsh sound among the soft notes.

Somehow it's finished. I didn't make a conscious decision to end it, but I know it's complete. I lean slightly away from the instrument, lifting a hand to my cheek. I pull it away, shocked. Tears have leaked from my ducts of their own accord.

Trembling, I reach out to stop the recording, pull the disk from its slot, and label it Green.

*O*O*

It's been a week since I touched my piano. I tried for days after Green to play something, anything, but I came up empty handed. I'm becoming so frustrated with myself and the ridiculousness of the entire situation; I'm ready to take a sledge hammer to the whole fucking lot of it.

Work is becoming a form of slow torture. I sit and do all of the same things, but I find myself looking for the green-eyed man. It's insane for me to search him out. I know I won't talk to him. Why would he want to listen? I sound like a damn ninety-year-old, lifelong smoker.

Snap!

Fuck me…

I look at the broken pencil lying on my desk and push the pieces aside so I can lay my head down.

I lift my head an inch or two and let it drop to the metal top.

Thunk.

Thunk.

Thunk.

"Um, miss? Can I help you with something?"

I leave my head on the desk for a second or two, contemplating my next move. Ultimately, I decide it will be best just to get it over with. I've been caught doing something stupid at my desk. No one ever said life was fair. Damn it.

Lifting my head up, I find myself staring into the deep pools of green I haven't been able to forget.

My mouth opens and I'm unable to close it.

Somebody fucking kill me now.

His amazingly chiseled jaw tilts upward questioningly.

Terrified to speak and scare him off, I simply shake my head – my mouth wide open.

His perfectly long, tapered fingers scratch at his premature five o'clock shadow.

I inhale in a raspy sounding gasp and make a show of clearing my throat, just to make it less obvious of the impact he's having on me.

He chuckles softly and shakes his head before turning away.

Shit. What in the hell was that about?

I'm turning into some sort of damn moron right here and now.

Any semblance of concentration I held is lost, and the rest of the afternoon looms ahead of me like a black hole.

I look at the ceiling and mumble, "You couldn't just let me die, could you?"

*O*O*

I run up the stairs to my apartment, slam the door behind me and lean against it. I take deep, calming breaths, feeling unsure of, well fuck, everything.

Dropping my things on the floor, I thrust myself forward and plop down on my cushioned bench. I reach to the desk beside me and set the machine to record my session.

I let all coherent thoughts slip from my mind and the music spills from my fingertips. The rises and falls, the crescendo and conclusion of the piece are filled with nothing but light notes that hang on the air, a feeling of optimism evident through each strain.

When I finish recording, I take the disk from its slot and label it Speak. With a sigh, I reach my hand up to rub my stiff neck, my fingers lingering on the scar.

Memories flood my mind, pictures and flashes of my past playing across my eyes. My head begins to ache, so I move in a haze to my bedroom and lie across my unmade bed.

Maybe I won't wake up.

For once, I feel somewhat distressed at the thought.

*O*O*O*O*

Time passes and I find myself searching out the green-eyed man. I want to gaze into his eyes and hear his voice once more. I'm becoming obsessed with the person who changed my musical style. I've created some very interesting songs and finally grown enough courage to send a sample of my music to a local orchestra group. I want to escape this cubicle and do something more with my creative outlet.

I feel like I have to thank the beautiful man, but I don't know where to start.

I've had daydreams of speaking to him in the voice I used to possess, thanking him for opening my eyes and learning how to dream again, but I know that can never happen. He would probably turn away in disgust. Maybe there's another way…

Fuck, I don't even know his name.

I feel incredibly discouraged, but I won't give up. All the suicidal thoughts I used to lose myself in have all but disappeared. Having discovered this new side of my music, I feel like a new woman. It's opened me up and I need to thank the man who changed me. Without even knowing what he was doing, he changed me.

I sit back against my chair and twirl it around.

I let it spin a couple of times when a scruffy jaw catches my eye. Stamping my foot on the floor, I come to a stop, staring blurrily at the man. The one I feel I owe my life. He spots me and smiles. I blush and return his smile, watching him walk in my direction.

Oh shit! What am I going to do? I can't say anything, but it's not like I can walk away either.

Suddenly, I hear, "Edward! Hey, Cullen, can you come over here for a second?"

He stops, giving me an apologetic look and turns toward the voice.

Thank God. I heave a sigh of relief and turn back to my desk. His name is Edward Cullen, and I think I know just how I can thank him.

It's almost time for lunch. I'm going to take a cab home and do what I need to do. I'm so excited. Butterflies are flitting around and I'm quivering in my seat.

Fuck it. I'm leaving.

*O*O*

I run into the office building, gripping a CD case tightly in my fist. Looking around to make sure no one is paying any attention to me, I slip into the mail room. I find a manila envelope and write Edward's name on the front. Stuffing the CD inside, I seal it and, for the first time in a long time, I send up a prayer.

Please God, let him feel it.

I toss the package into the mail bin and leave the room.

I'm completely useless for the rest of the day.

When it's time to punch out, I stand in line, watching people slide their cards and leave for the day. I glance at the office mailboxes and see Edward standing there. He hasn't noticed me, but has pulled the envelope from his slot and is looking at it, puzzled.

As though some electric current has passed through him, his head jerks up and his eyes find me immediately. I give him a timid smile, hoping he'll understand it's from me.

He walks toward me, a confused expression on his face.

"Hi," he says quietly, "Do you know something about this?"

Emboldened by his nearness, I part my lips and whisper, "Yes, I do."

"You know, I don't normally do this, but would you like to get a cup of coffee or something?"

Trembling, I nod my head and murmur, "Yes, I would."