Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a musical room

The first room was small and jam-packed with furniture.  Juliet couldn’t remember how it all got there, but she suspected the exclusive Flibbertigibbit Club had something to do with it.  She studied her cousin, Whitney, who was backed against the opposing wall, for any sign of hope or excitement and only saw frustration.

Juliet worried it would be painful getting into the hallway.  The entrance to it was narrow and tight and blocked by a bookcase, but apparently the doorway was magically stretchy.  So far it hadn’t stretched for Whitney, and certainly not for Juliet.

Whitney started kicking and throwing things.  Juliet was turned off by it, so she found a space on the floor and curled into a ball, trying to make herself disappear.  Eventually she got up and said, “Whitney?”  No response.

Juliet daintily took hold of the stem of a Victorian lamp, let her fingers run up and down its ridges like feathers sweeping away fine powder.  Whitney stopped the childish tantrums for a moment and beheld her flighty fingers in an amatory trance.

When she snapped out of it, she said, “We’re stuck here.”

“There’s so much furniture in the way,” Juliet said.  “And the door’s not cooperating.”

Whitney shook her head in defeat.

“There’s got to be a way,” Juliet said.  She tipped her head toward the bookcase.  “I’ll go on top.”

Dust particles slowly danced in sunlight below the frame.  “Yes, this is the way!”

Whitney joined her atop the bookcase.  Together they inhaled the dust.  The doorway stretched and they slipped into the hall.  Whitney grinned from ear to ear, but Juliet was cautious because the hardwood was slick with sweat and slime.

At the next room, she knocked and the door was opened by a tender-eyed, bearded dwarf wearing a pink hat.  Before stepping in, she looked around for Whitney and realized she had withdrawn into the cloakroom.

Juliet smelled crushed weeds and forgotten corners and freshwater fish, though the room was empty save for a few stacks of papers to her right.  To her left was a tiny window the size of a paperback novel and from it a shaft of light met the floor, forming a yellowish rectangle in front of the dwarf’s feet.

“Welcome, stranger,” he said.  “Come a little closer—closer to me.”

Then Juliet began to sing, and it was as though he pulled her voice out from her larynx with invisible silk ribbon.  She sang with gentle melancholy about unexpressed regret and discontented love.  And she listened to her own voice, as if from a distance, while the dwarf continuously pointed to the window.

With eyes on the window, she dropped in slow motion then pressed her cheek to the floor.  She wanted to feel vibrations.  When her singing began to fade, music took over and she couldn’t tell where it came from.  She shifted to a different spot and put her ear to the floor.  Were those vibrations she felt?  It was more like a tension in her eardrum.

“Whitney?”

She came quickly, and stood in the doorway.

“Whitney, is that it?!  I thought it was supposed to make me gasp with pleasure or soar over the moon.”

Whitney only shrugged and ducked deeper into a gray, wooly cloak.

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