I lie on my stomach in the basement of a home built by a famous man, now dead, who once made music
. Everything smells of moss and mushrooms and dark, damp cleanliness. I am pretending to read The Sirens of Titan
and watching the tendons in M's forearms. He sits at the keyboard
, temporarily transported to the place he goes when the muse
perches on his shoulder. M does not know he is brilliant because music comes out of him the way my breath comes out of me. This is one of my favorite things about him: He believes that everyone is capable of extraordinary things
, the things he does without thinking. He sees genius
I blow fog onto glass and draw a heart, never lowering my book and never taking my eyes off of him. I want to move, but I've been stiffly coiled for too long, my fingers wrapped carefully around the book, and it hurts to move. M continues to play, unaware of me and the rain, so full of song I think he will burst if he does not release it all. Music is a bird that hatches inside of him, a brightly-plumed bird with big eyes and glorious wings. If there is anything inside of me, it is a snake. I am a tight, ropy legless thing with shiny eyes.
On and on he plays, his eyes closed and his mouth pursed into a little red bud. My heart, cold and temporary, is fading on the glass. I do not redraw it. I drop the book and breathe until there is nothing but song. I lie there, all eyes and skin, as the song rumbles through the floor and into me and the bird swallows the serpent.