It hurt, it hurt, every stroke of his pen pained him. His muscles and mind cried out in protest for him to stop, sleep, finally rest.
But there was still work to be done.
It was late at night, probably at least one in the morning by now. He had sworn he would sleep, just as soon as he finished the Dies Irae. Constance had promised she would stay up and wait with him. But she had fallen asleep on their bed, still in her corset and petticoats.
"Oh, Constance, are you asleep?" he managed to whisper. "Couldn't you have waited just one more hour for me?" But she did not move from her slumber.
He couldn't watch her rest, when he still had so much more to achieve before dawn. And did it really matter anymore, if she waited asleep or awake? Soon, soon, the time was soon, the hour was at hand and he was still not done. He turned back to the parchment, and the pot of ink, and the pen in his trembling hands.
The taste of death was on his tongue, the poison that he had been forced to drink year after year, ever since Figaro had thrown him from grace. And he could beg, and plead, and pray to God that the cup of poison would be finally taken away from him, but that was not the order of things. It was not what God willed.
And he had been betrayed by the hands of sinners.
Night turned to day, and the Dies Irae was finished. And they were awake again, and he could see their shapes as they flitted and fretted around from him, but the light was too bright for him to see them clearly, and it was so close, he just needed to go a little further and his work would be done.
And there, the notes were there, in front of him, the Lacrimosa taking shape before his eyes, and he could see the end in sight, perhaps, if he worked quickly enough. Then he would be able to die.
It hurt when he fell. Not the force of his body hitting the wood floor, but the force of the knowledge that the end was here, and he was not ready, and he needed to write. No, no, do not drag me to the table. I cannot die yet, do not do this to me.
He knew the other shape would come, knew even before it walked through his door to confront his sobbing wife. For this is what happened with betrayals, wasn't it? You were sold, for 30 pieces of silver or for the position of Imperial Kappellmeister, and then you were bid farewell. He understood. He would die either way, but what could be a more fitting ending than this?
And since he understood that, he understood what his role would be in this final scene.
He rose from his bed, and walked towards his betrayer, and almost smiled at the quiet greeting of "Maestro" and the light kiss to his cheek.
"My friend, why are you here?" he asked, even though he knew the answer. Had always known the answer.
And yes, here was Constance's role, to try and push back his betrayer. And it was almost like a carefully rehearsed play, for he gently took Constance's arm. "Constance, it's time for forgiveness now. Death is here. Do you think I can just now pray to God, and He will heal me and grant me years more to my life? No, this is how it should be, this is how it must be."
But then the pain coursed through him again, now piercing the hands he had written with all night, now lancing his side with agony. It didn't matter what his role was, what purpose he had in this bastardization of a Passion Play, all he wanted was for the pain to stop.
And so he prayed, as he had promised he wouldn't, and cried out, as he had sworn he wouldn't, and pleaded and begged, as he had dreaded he would: "My God, my God, why have you forgotten me?"
But that had been predestined too, hadn't it?
He could see the light now, and it felt so sweet and so warm, and there was rest in that light, and sleep, and he would not have to write down the music because the music would always be around him, accessible, part of that light. The end was near, and it was all right. He had done what he was put on the Earth to do, and now it was time to sleep, for once.
"Lord, into your hands I commend my spirit."