Charlotte sits each day in her rocking chair next to the window, alone a small room isolated from the rest of the household. It had never truly bothered her that she was by herself each day, the others gathered somewhere far from where she was. For she was simply content to sit, rocking back and forth, back and forth, listening to the sounds of the family in the next room.
She had never seen them before, but she knew them; she knew them better than they knew themselves. One can learn a lot just by listening; for what you hear is oftentimes more important than what you see.
Charlotte never went out to be with the family. She stayed by herself in her room at all times, sitting devotedly in her rocking chair, listening to it creak and feeling the sunlight stream in through the open window and warm her bare arms. She liked it better this way, and--though no one ever said so out loud--she knew they preferred it as well.
Her family rarely talked about her; and when they did, it was mostly because they felt sorry for her. They didn’t bother lowering their voices either, so Charlotte heard every word they said, whether she wanted to or not.
Charlotte was an ‘easy’ child, they commented. A content child. A blind girl who did absolutely nothing special and probably never would, the poor soul. My heart aches for her, they’d say.
And when they said these things, Charlotte would simply smile, and continue rocking back and forth, back and forth.
Each day they would leave the house, to go to school, work, church, shopping. Everything was quiet then, void of the restless voices that had once invaded every corner of sound. Charlotte would stop rocking only when the silence became too much to bear; and she would take a deep breath in, as though she had never breathed before--
and then she would stand.
She would walk to the doorway, tracing her hands cautiously along the walls as she made her way to the rickety staircase leading to the dusty old attic. She would follow the stair rails, listening for the familiar creaks on the fourth and thirteenth step; and after hearing them both (for they were rather hard to miss), she would feel around the space in the attic, hands grasping patiently at the air until they found what she was looking for.
The family piano.
Her fingers brushed along the smooth wood, feeling for familiar crevices. Once she was satisfied with what she felt, she would lower herself upon the old bench, which moaned softly as she sat and shifted around; and her fingers would reach out cautiously to feel for the keys. And when they were found, she would lift her hands just barely above them, allowing them to hover silently, patiently, completely and totally still.
And then, like ten snakes striking simultaneously, her hands would fly down and attack the keys. Her fingers danced around skillfully, jumping gracefully two octaves or more, flying back and forth with the ferocity of the waves. In these times, a smile would creep upon her face, like it had when she overheard her family talking about her; and an emotion she had yet to identify welled up inside of her while she played, letting her express what she could never put into words. She leaned into her music, swaying with it, allowing it to control her as she saw beyond the blindness she called quiet.
Slowly, the things around her began to lighten, to fill up with the sound of her music. The corners that once were once heavy with silence began to roll with the noise, unable to contain it all on their own. Light streamed in through the cracks in the walls and the dust swirled as though moving to the beat she had created.
The world around her continued on normally of course, oblivious to the magic being created in the attic of their neighbor’s home. But her music was like the sun to them, warming them quite without their realizing it.
In these times, everything was alive. She was alive, her music was alive, her parents…she could almost picture them as she used to, smiling as they listened to her play. Nothing had ever given her greater joy than to see the looks on their faces...she could almost feel her father rocking her in his arms again as he used to do sometimes, back and forth, back and forth, in silent accompanyment to the rhythm of the music her mother made on this piano so very long ago.
Charlotte’s music would never be anything in comparison, she felt; but it still brought them back to life, making it almost so that the car that killed them was naught but a story, and the accident that took her family and her eyes just a dream. For she was caught in the moment, wrapped in it, surrounded by the memories of the life she once held, and had loved so dearly; and enveloped in pure emotion, conveyed through the piano, she felt that she could play until the very day she died.
And then, as suddenly as she had begun, she would stop. Only her hands remained, trembling as they hovered above the keys; and only when they lowered themselves back into her lap did she allow herself a sigh. She would sit there on the bench, letting the music wear off, allowing the silence to slowly regain what it had lost.
And she would get up, feeling her way back to the stairs. She would trace her hands along the rails, listening for the familiar creaks on the thirteenth and fourth step. She would follow the walls back to her room, and back to her chair, where she would sit and rock until the next day, when the family was gone and she had the sound all to herself once again.
And Charlotte would sit each day in her rocking chair next to the window, rocking back and forth, back and forth, in time her music—in time to the silent music, that she could never play but always hear; the music once made in her old home, that plays forever in her heart.