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Into the music

I stood in the stillness for a long moment, watching dust motes drift on the gold-colored space, aware of shadows shifting subtly, the sun rising.

I moved to the window and watched the rising sun with a sense of awe. I had not seen it in longer than I could remember; it brought memories of warmer, gentler times that grew around me momentarily stronger than the present darkness. I dreamed of Lysander, though briefly, for we had shared such a small time, and then further back my mind's eye reached, to my time with my mother.

She had disappeared when I was sixteen or seventeen. My father I had never known, and without her I was completely alone, except for old Agatha on the roof, here, and some other neighbors.

It was not a question of my dependence on her. She and I needed each other emotionally far more than I needed a parent. Our world was too decentralized already to allow for the traditional means of income. We both foraged for what we had. But without her, I noticed the cold that had slowly permeated our world, and all alone I found that void unbearable.

I never learned any clue about where she had gone, though others I knew disappeared around the time she did with the same abruptness.

I listened to the morning sounds with a sense of acceptance: the clear air ringing in my ears, branches scraping a glass window, even the faint chirp of a bird. In that void I heard music rasping out of tune, echoing somewhere from the reaches below.

Startled, I focused on the sound, prickles going all over me as I realized I was not alone. But a wolf could not play music and a human, no human could give me cause for fear now. I, once timorous of strangers, would be happy to meet anyone.

I moved slowly down the stairs toward the ghost sound. With the stirrings I created it vanished, and only when I stilled for a long moment could I sense it again. On the landing I leaned into the window. I could hear it more clearly. I looked down the dizzying length of the building. I would have to descend fifteen, maybe twenty flights of stairs to reach the source, but the beckoning melody offered me a diversion I could not refuse. I descended quickly.

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