WARNING: This short story may contain sensitive content. Nothing is graphic or racy in any way, but there is a sensitive, emotional scene.
Tears wet the ivory keys. Richard runs his hands over them and takes a deep, shaky breath. His eyes close, and he begins to play. His fingers glide across the piano, converting the man’s emotions into a heartfelt melody. The notes dance out the window and into the street. And a writer absorbs the music from an apartment on the third floor in the building across the street.
Has it been three or four times? The musician plays Clair de Lune four times before lifting his hands from the keys. A tear falls from his face as Richard lifts his head and looks out the opened window. He cleans his face with the sleeve of his sweater as he observes a listener across the narrow street. He looks down at the piano’s bench where someone very dear used to sit and play “Clair de Lune” at night.
Richard leaves the piano and makes a cup of hot tea. He stares sadly at a picture resting on a small table next to the sofa. Richard picks it up and brings it close. His heart aches for the smiling face in the picture.
After concluding the fourth round of “Clair de Lune” on the second night, Richard looks up at the stars. His eyes pass an opened window on the building across the street with a young woman leaning on the windowsill. Her face is turned to the sky as the wind ruffles her hair gently. The soft moonlight illuminates her face. Richard finds himself admiring the young woman in the glow of the moon. She retreats into her apartment, and Richard returns to the piano bench.
A sudden breeze sweeps through the room and lifts the music scores into the air. The sheets land on the floor in various places around the room. Richard sighs and looks down at the scattered papers. The sight of music scores spread across the floor bring back a painful memory. An uninvited tear escapes Richard’s eye as he recalls entering the apartment a few nights ago and seeing papers strewn across the floor. That night, he sighed and bent down to collect the pages. His heart froze after seeing a pair of feet stretching out behind the sofa. Throwing the papers aside, he rushed towards them.
“Devin?!” Richard lifted the man’s head and rested it on his lap. “Devin!” The man’s eyes opened to Richard’s call. A faint smile appeared on the man’s lips. “What happened?” Richard asked. The man’s eyes drooped closed. “Where’s your medicine?” Richard said while frantically looking around the room.
“Richard,” the man whispered while grabbing Richard’s arm to get his attention.
“Oh? Why? What’s wrong? Let me get some help. Wait here,” Richard was about to stand when Devin tightened his grasp. Richard looked down at Devin, whose eyes began to fill with tears. Devin shook his head slowly.
“Stay with me?” Devin pleaded. A tear rolled down his cheek. Richard looked into his eyes that were now filled with exhaustion and peace.
“Okay,” Richard nodded. “I’m right here,” he assured him. Wiping a tear away from Devin’s face, Richard smiled down at him with watery eyes.
“Promise me something?” Devin looked up at Richard.
“Play “Claire de Lune” every night for me with the windows open,” he requested. Richard nodded. “Let me go, too. Okay?” Devin’s voice grew weaker.
“Why now? Why can’t you hold on?” Richard stopped trying to control the tears.
“It’s been a long time. I can’t go on like this forever. I’m ready.”
“But you’re the only one I have left. Please stay?” Richard begged.
“Stop crying,” Devin reached his hand up. “Mom wouldn’t like to see you cry,” he continued while gently wiping a tear away from Richard’s face.
“Please don’t leave.”
Devin closed his eyes, and his hand fell from Richard’s face. “Devin?’ Richard whimpered, bringing his hand to Devin’s face. “Devin?!”
Richard’s call echoes through the room as he closes his eyes and bends down to collect the papers. He gathers the music sheets and sets them back on the piano. The gentle wind ruffles his hair as he stands from the bench. Walking over to the window, Richard looks into the apartment on the third floor of the building across the street. I wonder if she listened to Devin. Richard closes the window and turns off the light.
The ache in Richard’s heart heals a little every night. The pain is still present, but it is not as powerful. Richard doesn’t think it will ever go away completely; it will forever be a part of him, and so will Devin. The girl in the apartment across the street is always present to hear Richard play. He sees her, and her wistful expression often brings a small smile to his face. The version of “Clair de Lune” changes with the healing of his heart. He does not know why Devin asked him to play “Clair de Lune” each night, but the musical piece reminds Richard of him. So, he plays the song every night for both the girl and Devin.
Richard breathes in the autumn air as he walks through the park. He comes to a small grove and sets his violin case on a bench. Richard retrieves the violin and looks up at the trees. Golden leaves fall through the air as the sun shines softly. Richard nestles the violin under his chin. This is for you. Closing his eyes, he begins to play Clair de Lune. Faint footsteps grow near the end of the musical masterpiece. Richard concludes the song and opens his eyes. Before him is the girl from the apartment across the street. His heart skips a beat as their eyes meet.