The Music (Story by Risa Peris)

I could hear music. Phantom music. Music in the background like a soundtrack. It was never perfect or melodic. It was dissonant and wrecked my ears. A psychiatrist prescribed me Valium for anxiety and the music was silenced. Strange. For two days I didn’t take the medication and the music came back. Tadadadaa…dadadtadatada. Or something like that. So this was my reality. Music or no music. I barely played the violin and knew little of the piano. I knew a tiny bit of the drums. Some flute.

I went to Nice for a vacation. I was a painter in Philadelphia and had a good year selling paintings. So I decided to spend Christmas in the south of France. I figured I would go to Cannes, Monaco, Monte Carlo. Maybe even Marseilles. On my second night in Nice I met Ricardo. Half Spanish and half French. He played the keyboard in a local band. He played at the bar I was downing martinis at. It was two days before Christmas. He was sweet, older, and offered to buy me drinks.

“No, no…I couldn’t.” I laughed. But I really didn’t want him paying for me. I had a good year monetarily. I hadn’t taken my Valium in two days and I could hear the music. Dramatic music. I imagined standing on a glacier in Iceland. I hummed the music to Ricardo and he was very excited.

I followed him to his home. A small apartment. I hummed the music again and he recorded it on his keyboard and computer.

“I like it,” he said.

“Does it mean anything?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, words mean something. Do music notes mean something?”

“They mean everything.”

“So what does the music I hear mean?” I was really desperate.

“It means your an angel.” He smiled broadly.

“I see.” We made love in the dark of night and stretched in the dawn.

“Do you still hear it?” he asked.

“Yes, I do. The music is always there.” I fluffed my hair. It was Christmas Eve.

“Then you must marry me. So I can record your music.”

“Marry you?” I laughed.

“This is not a joke. You must marry me. So I can be there to record your music.”


“That will grow. Don’t worry. You will love me as I already love you.”

Christmas Eve melted into Christmas and still, there was Ricardo. I wasn’t sure I could love him. But why not try? Why pass love over? And besides, he could interpret all the music in my head.


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