If you have ever sat before your piano to set loose the dark melodies that haunt the dungeons of your inner life, you will know the magic consumes your fingers. The music seizes your mind, surges through your torso, and your fingers dance
Such is the magic consuming Susan's fingers as you watch her now, sitting before her mahogany piano. Her fingers dance to a mournful dirge, to a lullaby of grief, of barren, wasted years.
Listen carefully. Devote your ear to this melody, for woven into its minor harmonics are the stories of a broken life. Listen carefully, for this is the first dance of Susan's fingers in two decades. The music whispers the secrets of Susan's silent tears.
The melody flows from these tears, these transient gem-stones forged in the recesses of Susan's being. It flows from this small room's pale pink wallpaper, patterned with carousel horses and circus clowns. It flows from the empty white crib behind her, the room's centrepiece.
The cradle is empty but for a small, fraying teddy bear. The bear's fur is worn down to patches, its plastic eyes dull and lifeless.
The melody flows from this teddy bear too, and if you asked Susan why she is weeping, why this room is empty and decorated with circus clowns and carousel horses, why she has given over her fingers to the voices of grief, she would turn her eyes to this teddy, this nameless teddy.
There is healing in the setting free of demons, healing in the sound of mournful lullaby. Such healing that were you to take the teddy bear, and hold it before Susan with a look of compassionate wonder in your eyes, she would turn from the piano, dry her tears with a paper tissue, and tell you a story of which even her husband knows only fragments.
They'd chosen to live in this house because it was small, she'd say, much smaller than their previous home. There'd be no empty bedrooms. Only a study for her husband, and a music room for her piano. Nothing to remind her of the empty womb.
Susan found the teddy bear the day they'd moved in. She'd found it in this room, her music room. In the room had been an old, dusty wardrobe. The removal men said they'd take it away. They'd lifted it out, Susan watching, then laughed at the squashed teddy bear that dropped from behind it. "Throw it out for us, love," they'd said.
She'd followed them outside, watching them load the wardrobe into their van. When they'd pulled away, she ran back to the room, looking at the the teddy. It was lying on its side, curled up like a foetus.
It was only a small bear, the size of Susan's palm. Its fur was worn and fraying. Maybe a child lived here once, Susan thought. Maybe this was a child's room.
Susan knew, then. The teddy was a sign. She stood on holy ground. She'd taken off shoes and knelt before the bear, picking it up and pressing it to her face.
She'd get the room ready now, she'd decided. Pink wallpaper, it would be a girl, and a white crib.
She'd leave the piano in here, wouldn't play it until the baby came. Such was her fervour, such her belief in this sign, such her commitment. She'd sacrifice her dreams, her talents until the prophecy came to pass.
"Thank you, God," she'd whispered, clutching the bear to her lips. "Thank you, God." Its cotton skin was soft, stinking of child's bed.