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Armin Burckhardt “Ghost Waltz”
She looks absolutely ravishing tonight He thought to himself, glancing out across the floor to the only place in the ballroom that was lit. Indeed, aside from a couple of dwindling candles, the only light He discerned was that of She. Perched upon her stool at a white baby grand piano, a vision in the same flawless white, She was every bit as pure as her flowing silk gown. With hair so long that it kissed the marble beneath her, eyes with more than a hint of eternity, and the graceful poise of a swan, She reached into his chest and gave his heart a gentle squeeze simply by being.
Not that her existence was ever in any doubt. Both were seven-years-old when their paths first crossed and this memory had remained with him ever since. Recollection was still every bit as clear almost forty years on – down at the riverside, decorated with large rocks, the likes of which sprawled out like stepping stones along the bank, a small waterfall perched beneath a crag overhanging with verdant green grass and wild flowers of all colours and shades. The water was cool and felt refreshing against their bare feet as they dipped their toes in and giggled at the passing butterflies, who appeared in an awful rush to get to nowhere in particular.
“Let’s call this place nowhere in particular” He suggested, fully aware that this was somewhere very particular indeed.
“Deal” She replied, with nary a breath to spring forth from.
They shared such an otherworldly connection, one entirely unspoken, that moments like these were commonplace. Even though this was the only time they ever got to spend in one another’s company, at least, until now. The day had consisted of skimming pebbles across the stream, dangling upside down from the rope swing over by a huge weathered oak tree, which had to be two-hundred-years-old, judging by the complexity of its many knots, and getting up to all kinds of general mischief, as one does when seven and two do even better. Her hair was in curls that day which bounced from the pale skin of her face, while her fragile appearance concealed the kind of pluck and spirit which would see her through many a knock as She made the seamless transition from little girl to Lady.
This had been a recurring dream for him ever since. However, tonight was all about She. All about a dream She had relived many times throughout her life. Sat at the very same white baby grand, in the very same flowing white gown, playing the very same haunting melody and, just to complete the feat, there was a crystal vase nearby, containing the very same single pink rose, which appeared to have perked up considerably since She commenced her somber yet hopeful recital. Knew He had been listening all along. While He had never revealed before himself in this perpetual twilight visitation, She felt him. In every sinew. Every fiber of her delicate mortal coil. Listening intently to the joyous plink of each key as she graced them with her nimble fingers, making sweet music, the likes of which no sheet could ever hope to capture.
In rapture unparalleled, He advanced. Shyly at first as He didn’t wish to startle one so absorbed in her performance to a seemingly empty room, bustling with the souls of all those who congregated in the darkened recesses to claim their blessed relief. Had He known that She was both fully aware of his presence, and, grinning wildly in anticipation of his imminent arrival at her perch, then the dimples on his cheeks would be every bit as blushed as they were back at the riverside. His eyes every bit as wide and glazed with innocence and hope. The butterflies in his tummy in just as much of an awful rush to get to nowhere in particular. But this particular confirmation was one that not only solved the lifetime riddle of the girl in his dream, but also made his entire life before make the most perfect and poetic sense. So, a fairly monumental moment, by all accounts. Hence, the less than graceful manner that he ambled across to join her, resembling a newborn fawn caught in the solitary glare of her divine illumination.
“Always” He said nervously but assuredly, as his shadow fell upon her oleander-white aura, less clumsily than it had any right to.
“Always” She replied, before patting the seat with her palm to place his racing mind at immediate ease.
One word. Yet, an entire bestseller of meaning. Without another word being spoken, He lowered himself into the stool at her side, too overcome with quiet fascination to actually pluck up the courage to glance across. That being said, both were aware how this would play out from the offset. Had had their entire lives to plan for such. She was a true artist and, if there is one thing that drives a true artist to the point of dangerously high blood pressure, then that would be interruption, while sharing something so deeply intimate. Wearing a smile which tickled her cheeks in precisely the same way as her hair had tickled his the last time they nuzzled noses, She recommenced the recital.
The next few minutes didn’t merely feel like a lifetime, they were a lifetime. Much, much more. Just like back at the riverside, He hung from every single exquisitely chimed note with the same look of absolute wonderment. Moreover, through melody alone, every last joy and pain she had ever felt became evident to him. A sense of incredible calm washed over him, similar to how the cool river ebbed and flowed about their toes one fine yesterday. Words had never before been more superfluous to requirements. Besides, attempting to formulate a syllable would have been a Herculean task right now, such was the purest love overspilling from his bandaged heart witnessing such a mercurial symphony being composed before his wide eyes.
Eventually, in a moment aeons too soon for his liking, the final note assumed its sprung position, as She lifted her fingertips from its embrace. Silence. Comfortable, just as it had always been. A full minute passed as quiet awe left its mark on his ability to so much as blink. It was then that He felt a soft palm upon his as the pair intertwined fingers and continued to enjoy the silence. Should a pin have dropped anywhere in this grand ballroom, then it would have been melodramatic. That being said, both He and She could discern the sound of cool water serenading their bare ankles with the most spectacular sense of familiarity. This place was Home. Had always been. Would forever be hereafter. And all that remained to be asked was a single question from He.
“Would you please do me the honour of taking my hand for the next dance?”
“Why, I already have it silly” She replied, with customarily whip-smart response time. “Indeed, I have done. Always”
Nearby, at the crystal vase, a single pink rose finally and joyously unfurled.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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