It seemed nothing could comfort Ludia. The scar on the side of her head had seeped into her brain, twisting it into a wreath of fear and grief. Her hearing, once sharp as an arrow, now withered to eighty percent in the left, ten percent in the right. No voice seemed to ease her, not even her beloved composers, though she listened as if they did. Instruments were the only voice she would give attention to, yet they gave her little peace in return.
But now, she had no peace. Her phone was dead, and the cable was still in her backpack. It was ten feet away from the bed, which was far, too far. The heaviness in her heart was like lead trapping her body to the bed, the tightness in her chest was a net that tied her arms to her sides. She started to cry, she couldn’t help it, it would be so easy to just get up, only she just couldn’t, she just couldn’t.
Then she heard a few chords in the distance. Her sister Rose was playing a pop song on the piano -- and she wasn’t very good. Ludia could do better. She didn’t know how she would, but she could, and she didn’t need to be taught.
A quiet determination lifted the heaviness, the tightness. Even the never-ending pain on the side of her head seemed to dim. Ludia pulled out her earbuds and set them on the side of the bed, next to the dead phone. She walked, slowly but confidently, out the room, across the hall, down the stairs, behind her sister at the piano. Her sister stopped and looked up.
“Can I play?” Ludia asked.
Rose nodded. Ludia asked for so little these days. If there was any way to help her, Rose would.
Ludia sat and played a few chords. She had no names for them, but she knew what they were. She rested her fingertips on top of the keys, waiting for something to come to her. What came was the third movement of Beethoven’s The Tempest. She began to play.
It was then she understood what music could do, could be. This, she could control, could reason with, could understand. It gave her comfort, hope, strength, like no other thing ever had, even before her injury. She felt whole again, she felt love again.
As she finished, Ludia rested her fingers on top of the keys for a moment and smiled.
“Nothing can touch me here.”