"It's a huge Carthusian monastery, stuck down between rocks and sea,
where you may imagine me, without white gloves or hair curling, as pale as ever,
in a cell with such doors as Paris never had for gates.
...Bach, my scrawls and
paper—silence —you could scream—there would still be silence.
Indeed, I write to you from a strange place."


The room is shaped like an over-long coffin and it's been painted pure white. The whole monastery has been painted pure white—the color of angels, the color of death. And that's what Chopin thinks about as he lies there on the borrowed bed and stares half-naked and helpless at the lid of the coffin and the ceiling of his tomb. He thinks about angels… he thinks about death. He wonders if there will be an angel to fetch him when he finally passes over into the realm of another existence.

Outside the heavy Spanish rains rage around them, and further off, if he listens carefully, he can hear the gentle turmoil of the sea. The sounds of both are almost constant, along with the soft murmuring of the monks down the hallway and the raggedness of his own breath. Sometimes Sand comes down to check on him, but he thinks it pains her to see him so she doesn't come much. When she does visit she's full of sarcasm and wit, crooning about her dear corpse and how the bones in his hands must be filled with music because they're filled with nothing else—but her words hold more truth than she wants to face right now so she leaves and he tries not to think about how he saw tears in her eyes when she turned away.

There are days when his limbs are too heavy to move and the soup they bring him stays untouched because his body won't let him eat it and his pride won't let him ask for help. He lies there and smells it and hates his life, wonders what he ever did to deserve the perpetual torture of life. On those days he closes his eyes instead of staring at the white coffin ceiling, and he drifts into a sort of fitful sleep that is better than the fitful wakefulness that plagues him.

On those days, he dreams. And they are not the dreams he usually has—watching himself being held beneath the waves of the Spanish waters until he coughs up sea foam instead of phlegm, or cradling the dead, rotting corpse of his baby sister in his arms as he cries. No, he dreams of fantastical worlds and brilliant, swirling colors; scarletvioletnavygold that embrace him and hold him and let him dissolve until he is a part of the beauty instead of an intruder upon it.

He dreams of girls in pink dresses and girls with lavender hair, a woman with Eros' bow who can't seem to catch her own true love. He dreams of vagabond boys, thieves and princes and budding photographers. He dreams of a man who slays his lover by believing all of her lies, and a childhood friend who prays for forgiveness because she prayed for the lovers' demise. There is a future king without a father and a queen without a throne, blindly clinging to each other while they try to be brave enough to take a step back. Frederic dreams of dragon legions and a mad child- sovereign that tries to enslave the world with magical potions and deadly powders, burning with the desire to be remembered, to be important even in the basest, most ugly of ways. He dreams of war and peace and hope and murder and blood, elves thrown in chains and gallant, misguided knights who stumble in their rescues but rescue just the same.

He wakes up from time to time and he is still in Spain, still in the same deathly pale room that seems to rob him of breath just as fast as he can find it… but in the wake of those dreams he feels better somehow. More human. And he is realizing that humanity is a hard thing to come by on this rain-beaten island where piano music has no value and living men sleep in whitewashed coffins while their lovers come less and less every day. The dreams leave and he misses them, wishes he could go back to them, and George Sand thanks a god Chopin isn't sure he believes in for returning her dear, dear corpse again.