It never occurred to me to ask until we were already moving in together. Amidst the boxes yet to be unpacked, the still unassembled furniture, the dull candlelight which threw the room into flickering shadow, it struck me. The small, insignificant oddity, or so I thought.
He looked up from the Ikea bedframe he wrangled with. “Yes?”
“Why don’t you ever listen to music?”
How best to describe the look that brought to his face? Embarrassment? Shame? Guilt? Perhaps a secret thrill? He averted his eyes from me as he answered.
“I guess… I’ve always just preferred my own.”
“You know, the music in my head.”
“No, I don’t know. Like… you have your own soundtrack, or something?”
“Yeah, or something.”
We continued unpacking for a bit. I could tell he didn’t want to discuss it further. But I had to know. Like when you begin to piece together a thousand piece puzzle and you finally find the border pieces, how can you stop until you’ve finished?
“So what’s it like?”
“What is what like?”
“Your ‘music’ silly.”
Rob hesitated again, but sighed as he could tell I wouldn’t drop this thread, not until I saw the whole picture.
“It’s, it’s hard to describe.”
“Well, what style is it? What instruments do you hear?”
“I hear… something that hasn’t been invented yet, played by instruments I can’t name. Maybe they haven’t been built yet either. Maybe I’m meant to. I don’t know.”
I walk over to him and smile, scratching the back of his neck. His favorite place.
“Well I’d sure like to hear it someday.”
“I don’t know if you’d be able to, if you could stand it, boy.”
I bend down and start to lightly kiss him there, on the back of his neck. Soft growls confirmed it had the desired effect.
“Why don’t you try me?” I grinned.
He sighed heavily, with consternation or with pleasure... or perhaps both. His hand slid into mine and he turned to look me in the eyes, perhaps to gauge if I was serious. Which indeed I was.
“Okay, well maybe I can sing something.”
I nodded gratefully and he closed his eyes, those beautiful hazel eyes, and cleared his throat. What came next was… well, it was… A heartbeat, memories of my birth, my dead mother cradling me as she sang in words I could not yet understand. My infant dreams, pyramids of color and shapes that bend around my head. The rush of the wind around me as I giggled in the bike seat as my Dad rode through the cemetery where decades later we would return with his ashes. I blink and the aria lifts me into the clouds where an unblinking eye sits in judgment. I am naked before it, and even then it rends me from my flesh and my soul, warts and all, is weighed. Weighed by the song. I am wanting. I am found wanting. I…
Back in the room, my nose is bleeding.
“Glenn? Glenn?” Rob says, concern and perhaps amusement in his tone.
I sit up. I don’t remember falling.
His mouth moves again and I don’t hear the words. Only the song. Only his beautiful song.
It is then, watching his silent lips, watching the concern fade into a knowing smile. Hearing everything. Hearing nothing. I realize the truth.
I know I can never hear anything else again.
Closing my eyes, I fall back into the clouds, drawn by music from the distant future. Drawn by that which perhaps will never be.