The next afternoon, Janet sat on her bed with her violin in her lap, thinking of ways to show Fosse how bad she wanted to learn from him. She knew how greatly she wanted to be taught but when it came to convincing the nix, her head drew up blank. She absentmindedly stroked the smooth surface of her instrument with her fingertips and gazed through her window.
“Maybe Fosse could help me out.” Janet said to no one in particular before slipping out her window with her knapsack and hurrying towards the loon.
When she arrived at the calm body of water, the water-man was no where to be seen and when she called out to him, he did not appear. So Janet slipped off her converses and dipped her feet into the creek, sighing as the chilly waters delighted her toes. When she looked into the blue opaque of the water, she could just about make out a couple of fish swimming side by side, their tails waving behind them like banners. There were spotted carps with various colored spots winking beneath the water and gold fish with elaborate fins that swayed as they moved. A thin burbot or as her father used to call them, eelpouts, stealthily swam past the other fishes. Janet sprawled on the grass beside the brook and rested her head on her arms, watching the freshwater fish reel around. Her eyes began to droop as the tranquility of the moment began to cast a blanket of blissful slumber around her. With a serene smile on her lips, she dozed like a lazy cat on a Saturday afternoon, feeling as if reality were but a mere dream of a dream.
Fosse rubbed his temple groggily with his fingertips as he slipped out of his bed of algae and duckweed. Sleep was scarce with him due to a reoccurring dream or rather a nightmare. He was playing the violin in his dream. It was a tune that brought the strongest men to their knees. ; A song that would make the whole world silent enough for his notes to soothe the most downhearted soul. A young woman with auburn hair was nearby and the melody attracted her to Fosse whom was still playing the violin. It lured the woman further into the water, deeper and deeper until the depths swallowed her and brought her to a lonely and watery death.Then when he looked up, it was too late. Fosse sighed deeply and swam to the surface, only to find Janet asleep on the shore of the brook. He shook his head sympathetically and waded towards her before shaking her shoulder slightly to wake her up.
Janet opened her eyes slowly, fighting off the temptations of slumber that still clutched at her mind. When she noticed Fosse above her, she briefly saw a halo of light around his water bleached hair making him seem more like a celestial being than a nix.
When she found her voice, Janet muttered, “And so the angel appeared.”
She thought her words would humor him but in fact, he frowned deeply and waded back into the pool. Janet pulled herself up and idly stretched, rubbing her eyes with the side of her hands.
“Why didn’t you come earlier? I called.” Janet asked.
“I was sleeping.” he grumbled.
“In the afternoon?”
Janet grinned awkwardly and merely shrugged in response. Fosse looked at her as he raised an impish brow and inquired, “So what do you want?”
Janet looked back at him and shook her head before scoffing, “Aren’t you a morning person.”
“One: Don’t dodge the question please and two: it’s the afternoon.”
The troublesome teen rolled her eyes and once more dipped her feet into the water, replying, “I need help.”
“Convincing you how much I want to learn.” she petulantly snapped.
“Looks like we’re both morning people.”
Janet shot the nix a cross glare as she folded her arms over her chest and said, “I really am stuck, though.”
The fair man swam back to the shore with an irritable sigh and perched himself upon the grass, his feet still plunged into the brook.
“You’re dismissing the whole purpose of you proving me. Although I guess I could lend a hand.” he told her patiently, finally ridding himself of his peevish mood. “I suppose, you have your violin with you.”
Janet murmured her thanks with a suppressed smile as she pulled out her violin and bow from her bag and laid them across her lap. Fosse cleared his throat, thinking for a minute, before finally asking, “Do you remember the song that you played the day that I popped up?”
Of course she did. It was the song that she could never finish because it was simply too painful to deduce. It was her father’s favorite piece. He had taught it to her when she was young and because he loved the tune so much, Janet had played it whenever she had the chance. Every time she had performed the song, she had felt close to her father and so she assumed that if she ended the song, then consequently that feeling would perish.
“Well?” Fosse droned.
Janet bit her bottom lip and nodded, her auburn hair casting over her face, hiding the tears pricking behind her eyes. Fosse waited a moment before querying,
“Can you finish the song?”
He solely received another hesitant nod.
“Will you finish the song?” he asked.
This time, she shook her head.
Sensing Janet’s distress, the fair man made a low sound in his throat and frowned as he ran a hand through his hair. He wondered why she was so anguished about the song. It was silly really but since he knew next to nothing about her and the melody, he couldn’t judge any of it. It wasn’t like he hadn’t heard Janet play the song before. In fact she had played it multiple times but one day; she just never finished it and seemed to leave it that way. Something had stopped her from ending the song and he was determined to assist her in conquering it. Fosse decided then, if Janet could finish the piece and over come her obstacle, and then he would gladly take her as his pupil. But of course, it wouldn’t be easy.
“Finish it.” Fosse insisted sternly, putting as much austerity as he could into his voice.
Astonished by his intensity, she shook her head and weakly uttered, “I told you, I can’t.”
“Finish it…” he commanded her again, his features growing darker with wrath.
Newly built up tears began to haze her vision and choke her words when she sobbed. “I can’t. I really can’t!”She shuddered violently, shaking her head, and began to weep into her hands.
Fosse stopped and looked at her compassionately, frowning sadly as he saw her sob and tremble. Maybe force wasn’t the way to get through to her. Immediately, he calmed his voice and climbed out of the water and onto the shore to place a comforting hand on her shoulder. He knew that being out of the water was a dicey decision but the young woman in front of him was more important.
“You can.” he said evenly, “you’re keeping yourself from ending it and therefore torturing yourself by not finishing. You say that you can’t but really you won’t. But try and maybe this time with a little bit of encouragement; you’ll conclude it beautifully like I know you can.”
Janet looked up at him and peered into his eyes that were now receding back to their comforting grey depths. She couldn’t say anything and didn’t say anything as her cries ceased and her quakes stopped. After a couple minutes Janet reassembled herself and replied, “I can.”
With buoyancy in her heart, Janet wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, and then placed the violin under her chin while she began to play. At first, she was shaky but after she closed her eyes and succumbed to the music, the troubled teen began to loosen up and feel the music course through her veins. She became so ardent with the song; Fosse was scared that if he moved, then the atmosphere and her reverie would be shattered. When Janet began to near the end of the song, Fosse began to feel his skin and form dehydrate from being away from the water for such a lengthy period of time. His nostrils flared and his eyes watered as he willed himself to hang on a little longer, so that he could hear the end of the surreal tune.
While Janet approached the crescendo of the piece, she told herself continually that her father would always be with her in her heart even if she wasn’t playing the song. “Watch me, Papa. I can do it.” she repeated in her mind as she had said to him so many times when he was still alive. Sliding the bow against the delicate strings and holding her breath, she plunged herself into the last measures of the song with as much gusto as she could muster. The notes exploded from the tiny instrument, filling the surrounding creek with music and wafting into the air like a bird’s song sung high above the trees. The climax ended, leaving only a soft consonance to drift the listener to a sweet and steady resolution of gently played chords. It may have been her imagination but Janet swore that she could hear a distant echo of her father’s voice among the last notes of the melody, saying, “I am so very proud of you, my little one.” Her father was with her and would always be, nestled into the very core of her heart. It took her a while to realize that but now she finally understood. She had Fosse to thank for that and she was about to if not for the pained expression etched into the nix’s face stopping her.
Worry carved itself into her mind as she frantically asked, “What’s wrong, Fosse?”
He didn’t answer her although he weakly indicated the brook with a nod of his head. When realization hit Janet with a dense wall of force, she grasped the fact that he needed to be back in the water. With fierce willpower and concern for her friend, she began to drag him towards the creek, receiving sharp intakes of breath from Fosse as she pulled. After Janet had finally returned him to the stream, he sank to the bottom and dispersed slowly like he had when she’d first encountered him. Every minute seemed like hours as she waited at the brook’s shore, praying for the well-being of her friend. During those minutes, the teen began to think and ponder about what had just happened. Janet wondered why Fosse had never mentioned his flaw but she assumed that was because she didn’t know him or anything about him. They had only met a mere week before and that week felt like an eternity passed. She hoped that this wasn’t the end of the days spent with her newly founded friend and just as she was about to lose hope, Janet saw Fosse’s form arise gradually from the depths of the water. She was so happy she found herself wanting to cry out in relief.
Looking him over to make sure he was still whole, she asked anxiously, “What happened?”
“I’m not supposed to be away from the water for that long.” He sadly replied. Janet could tell by the tone of his voice that he was ashamed of his disability and immediately pitied him.
“Then why did you get out of the water?” she inquired in a ludicrous voice.
Fosse faltered for a moment before replying quite frankly,
“You were more important. I look after my prot.”
Janet’s eyes retracted in surprise at his words and she genuinely didn’t know how to respond.
“Do you really mean it? You’ll teach me?” She finally answered optimistically.
“Yes but don’t expect any mercy from me, Miss Janet.” He advised her with a bright smile. “Because I will work you even to the point of collapse if I have to.”
Even though he was grinning, she knew that he was serious and that she should probably regard his counsel. Janet gave a curt nod of consideration before sincerely saying, “Thank you, Fosse.”
He looked at her strangely, tilting his head to the side in a peculiar fashion and then asked,
A deep pink colored the teen’s cheeks and she rung her hands in her lap, almost too embarrassed to reply.
“Well,” Janet uttered, “Thank you for helping me with my song and giving me the courage to end the piece. You have no idea how much that means to me.”
Fosse inclined his head regally and questioned, “What was stopping you from finishing?”
She then told him about her father and how she didn’t want to conclude the piece in fear of losing the proximity with him that she had through the song.
“I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your father” Fosse said, “But I am also happy to hear that you have overcome your problem and realized that your father is always with you in your memories.”
Janet smiled sheepishly and glanced at him, “Thanks to you.”
He shook his head slowly and corrected her. “It was you, miss, who finished the song so the credit should go to you.”
The nix beamed at her and looked towards the sky that was now a fiery red from the setting sun. “You should go. It’s getting late.”
The teenager nodded as she stood up to brush off her jeans and gathered her things.
“Remember now, miss.” Fosse warned, “Your teachings will be tough and I expect you to work the hardest you have ever worked in your life if not harder.”
And with those vigilant words of advice, Janet set off for home, one step closer to her dream.