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 everywhere.

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.