Keys of Fate
The path started long before I could rememeber everything clearly. There are glimpses of memories, blurry faces and details from places. The only thing I know will always stay with me, and in me, is the feelings.
So that is how I live. From a feeling to a feeling. It’s always been like that. There was a time I wondered how normal it is. To be swept by own feelings without knowing what to do, losing control, feeling excited beyond limits, ashamed, happy, proud and guilty about it, all in one big lump of mixed sensations. And, for quite a while – fearing to lose control.
At one point I questioned the whole notion of “normal” and that moved me on to a different timespace, where nothing is ever good or bad. It’s a place beyond those notions, where things just happen and it’s possible to see the essence of people, actions and situations and see how your own subjective opinion and reaction fit into those. Where you dance because you want to and you are silent because you feel like it. Where your soul meets your heart, brain and the rest of the body, and complete like never before, you continue your journey, wondering how you could ever live in any other way than this.
There has been calmness of moving along the right path and pain of mistakes, fear of loneliness and pleasure of achievement and connections, all that. It hasn’t disappeared, nowadays it just somehow feels more together, like everything is in its own place, be it joy or worries, and more… right? Would that be the word? I guess so.
This all seems recent and ages ago at the same time. And now that I learned what I learned, “ages” doesn’t feel like an exaggeration any more. And there are also candles. Of course. Lots of them, smaller, bigger, long and thin, and round, and stout, in the room darkened by the autumn’s early dusk, and with the scent floating around like a curtain out of an open window.
Sipping coffee with milk, Maria is treating me with donuts and gingerbread heart-shaped cookies. I pour myself rooibos tea, and we talk on about travelling South, needle-knitting, shopping, going out, beading jewelry and having a big liking for shiny accessories, friends, cats and dogs… Our minds blend together in a flow of images, any topic is warmly welcome…
Because it feels so great to be there, the time to leave comes unexpectedly. Wishing to prolong our lovely evening, I suggest we listen to some music before I go. There is some I have never shown to Maria. With a few “mouse” clicks, the computer player is on, and there it goes… the piano sounds… the candlelight… and suddenly Maria starts talking, slowly yet quietly, like describing a clear picture in front of her. She pauses now and then, the music continues, and she continues also.
“I see a woman, playing piano in an empty room. It is a big room with a high ceiling, in a big house that once had a lot of life in it and now is empty. That house means a lot to her. Her dress is long and gray, it’s a bit worn. Something had happened in that house. It’s been a while since then. The house had been abandoned. She had lost her parents. She has returned there to play. There is mud on the road, the house is dark, there is no light, it is wet outside. There is trash on the floor in the rooms and no furniture but the piano is still there.”
The first music piece stops. I am looking at Maria with a mixed feeling of surprise and amusement.
“I am not in a hurry, shall we listen to more?” I ask.
Sure. We turn on the second one, and Maria immediately continues, as if there was a picture slide-show in front of her eyes.
“I see the same woman. Time moved back. It is the time before the previous music piece. She is in a white dress and feels uncomfortable in the corset. It’s too tight. The collar of her dress goes all the way up to her chin and has laced edge. The skirt of her dress is long and big. She likes to play with an open window to have the air come in, I see white curtains floating as the wind lightly blows into the room. It is summer. This is when she likes walking around the yard listening to the birds. She is carrying a summer umbrella. It has laced edges like her dress. She likes summer. Winter is too long for her. Winter there is like autumn here – rainy and dark and without snow.”
For some reason at this moment a wave of chills goes up my back but I say nothing. I want to hear more even though I know there is no proof to any of this. Why would I want any proof at all? I wonder how it can feel so real. Silently, I click on the next piece… Maria’s voice is calm and quiet, almost detached, she goes on describing what she sees, without any definite emotion.
“The family is there. She has a brother but I cannot see him well. He wears the same kind of jacket as their father. They are a rich family, they have servants. A man and a woman who are very loyal to them. The house is located far away from other houses. In the village that is the closest there are many poor people and they have nothing to eat. They are forbidden to come near their house with the fear of capital punishment but sometimes they still come. It is a long way for them and not easy to get there. But they come and this is why most of the time she spends inside the house. Her father knows he needs to protect her. Many times people would hear her play the piano through the open window.”
For a moment I get lost in my head but the flow of thoughts stops as Maria starts speaking again, with the next piece playing.
“Piano gives her peace. The music is so smooth and relaxing. When she plays, she is so focused she sees nothing around. She plays music from the sheets but also composes her own. A good happening, a bad happening – she plays it all. But the music is peaceful. Piano gives her peace. It is what is saving her and lets her survive. I feel that she wouldn’t without it.
“She is a very sensitive woman. And very polite. Her father feels like she has to know about the world. Even her mother thinks a woman needs no education. It was not common in those times to teach women but there is presence of a teacher. I cannot tell if it is a woman or a man. She knows how to behave in any situation like she has been brought up that way. I see no one next to her. She has very few friends. She is mostly alone.
“There was a man in her life whom she loved a lot. They could not be together. But now she already got over it. She gets sad and is suffering a little bit when thinking about him but it is all in the past. It left a scar in her heart and she moved on. The music she plays reminds her about it.
“I see her father. He wears a long old-fashioned jacket with two rows of buttons as it was fashionable at that time. He is some kind of a global man. He knows a lot, he is important and respectable. It is unusual for people of their rank at that time but her father is somehow helping those poor people. She and her father are very close. Her mother is there but somehow very distant, I cannot see her. Her brother is close with the mother. The father has gray hair on the sides of his head. I see him getting sick, it has something to do with the chest, he is in bed, in fever, she visits him very often. She fears that he would die.”
I have a feeling of unreality as I watch Maria’s stories in my mind like a silent movie, with only piano playing on the background. At the same time, I am at the table with her and also in those stories. I feel them as vividly as my lips feel the warm tea. My feet are getting cold… I look at those white curtains lightly floating, I see them from inside the room before Maria names their color. I am in a big, empty, dimly lit room. I can barely see myself but I know I am wearing a long gray woolen skirt. There is no one else in the room. The next moment I am outside. Tears come to my eyes when I look at the house in front of me… It is so old and empty and I know it is still there… It means so much.
“The house is big, yellow and made of stone,” Maria says.
“It is still there and still abandoned,” I tell her. She nods. I turn around and point in the air, like the house is in front of us. I say the lady’s room is up there on the second floor, in the left corner if one is facing the entrance of the house. She nods again. I am so curious I can hardly sit still in my chair.
“She has a lot of dreams and everything happening in her life doesn’t match those dreams. Everything goes differently from what she imagines. She knows she is dreaming too much for that time and knows her wishes won’t come true. She doesn’t dare any more to make them come true. But that is two hundred years ago. Her hair is lighter than yours and her lips and nose are a bit smaller but your bodies are about the same shape.”
I look blankly at Maria.
“No wonder you are putting so much effort to live your life to the fullest now, my friend,” she says. “She could not do it then and she knew it. Now it doesn’t have to be that way. Your music is full of stories and now you know where it is coming from.”
I agree with her and suddenly I feel like a child unwrapping Christmas presents. And then I realize how easily I agree with this all. With the fact that my music had already been composed two centuries ago by a lady who is very resembling of myself, in character and even in appearance… It just feels natural, like being with a friend I can trust my life with.
“What am I supposed to do with all this?” I ask, so surprised how right this all feels. Like all the puzzles came together, forming a complete picture.
“That is, my darling, your business,” Maria smiles.
I am also smiling as I am dressing to go out into the cold autumn evening. The feeling inside is as warm and cozy as all those cups of tea we just shared at Maria’s table…
We walk out of her place. She is taking her dog for a walk and I am rushing for the bus that is about to arrive to the nearest bus stop. The dog lingers here and there but just before the bus comes, they both catch up with me. With a hug, Maria and I agree to call each other for the next meeting.
The bus is carrying me along the dark streets, and my mind couldn’t be lighter. I felt like I met an old friend after a long time of us not seeing each other… We hugged, I could sense the scent of her perfume and feel the embroidery on the back of her jacket… After a long time of being apart, we finally rejoined and now we are together… We are close, inseparable… We are one. And it feels light, calm, and right.