She collapsed onto the bed, her body, almost instantly paralyzed by the feeling that began to spread through her body. The comforter hugged her body as she sank deeper. The warmth spread slowly all over her, taking over everything. It spread from her toes to her head causing a lazy smile to spread across her face. She felt like she was floating in the water, listening for the music that began to play with everything flowing and playing so slowly and gracefully.
As she sank deeper and deeper she began to not only hear the music but to feel every note as if it ran in her blood. Her fingers mimicked playing the notes she remembered playing so well. She started laughing awkwardly and confused at how life could feel so great, in this state of pure bliss, even if it wasn't. It was freeing like she was as light as a feather. Everything felt so vivid and warm, she waved her hand back and forth feeling the fluidity of her hand and feeling every movement of the muscles in her fingers as she played the invisible music.
Time seemed to slow. Every minute every second longer than the next. Her bed was so far away and she was too far too deep in her head, in the music, to pull herself out, but she didn't mind. She sighed a bit letting the warmth continue to take over.
The stress and tension left her muscles as her mind continued to wander. It was a dissociation beyond belief everything just felt like a dream, and it probably was. She wasn't herself anymore; she was just a soul, a mind, outside her empty vessel of a body. Like a single note in a melody. Every sensation felt magnified and like she was feeling it for the first time, like the wool comforter touching her arm.
Everything felt right, everything made sense with not a care in the world - until everything turned black and the music faded out.
With a jolt, she woke from her stupor with her hair in a knotted mess and dried saliva at the side of her mouth. “Shit,” she mumbled rubbing her eyes so vigorously to help wake herself that black-spotted her vision. The tension in her elbows was numbing, as she tried bending and shaking it to feel any sort of relief from the feeling. It never does though. Nothing seems to relieve the ache. The ache in her heart and the ache in her hand. And ache that was a constant reminder of her fall from her future. How does one go from being a prodigy on her way to being a famous pianist in the tri-state area, maybe even in her region, to sleeping on her aunt's couch making minimum wage?
Suzzane, her aunt an older woman in her 60s but still as energetic as a woman in her 30s, had let her stay until she could get back on her feet, she’d do anything for her niece no matter what it was, always giving her the benefit of the doubt, letting her stay at her house, cleaning, and cooking her dinner for as long as she needed. The plan was to save up and afford a small apartment of her own, hopefully relatively cheap within the suburban modern neighborhoods that surrounded them. Anything even remotely close to the city for work would be preferable.
Carter rushed up from under the covers, her head reeling from standing so fast. She eagerly got undressed and jumped into the shower. The water was hot, almost burning her skin as it went, but it felt good. The loofah rubbed up and down her arms, her other arm, and then the same arm again with hopes of washing off the cold sweats and the uncleanliness she felt. It was a familiar feeling, something she always felt the morning after, it was as if she had bathed in sin the night before and now was her time to wash it away. It was an unclean she couldn't wash away. You can’t scrub the feeling in your heart away, that gut feeling, the feeling that you get when you know you did something wrong and you're afraid to get caught. She continued to rub her skin raw with the loofah, trying to ignore the music that still rang in her head.
Suzzane was already downstairs eating at the kitchen table
“There’s eggs on the pan and a couple of pieces of bacon on the plate on the counter if you want some.” Her aunt nodded in the general direction of her plate and continued to fork food into her mouth. Carter smiled and grabbed a plate from the cabinet, spooned the rest of the eggs and took a couple of pieces of bacon. She went back upstairs to eat and clean up her living space.
Suzanne left the house to run some errands together leaving her in the company of no one. When she’s by herself things felt worse, she had no reason to fight it or want to fight it. The emptiness grew darker, the music grew louder, and the itch for the high grew stronger as the memories came flooding back in, memories of her playing and the crash that ended it all.
The first time she touched an instrument, the harp. The moment she got her first piano. The time she learned to play the cello, The echoing of Liszt's Campanella in the concert hall for her audition when she received her acceptance into Juilliard. A prodigy in the art of music since she was born. Until one night of reckless fun. The side being t-boned, flipping the car, and the glass shards going into every part of her arm. And at the time she was under the influence, not feeling all the pain.
She shook her head trying not to think too much of the overwhelming thoughts, to which the easy solution would be to get more drugs. She'd have to go see her plug to try and get more.
For now, Carter laid on the couch trying to ignore the feeling, snuggling the comforter up and around her head as if forming a cocoon and drifted off to sleep before she'd have to get up to work the graveyard shift at the diner.
It was dark by the time her shift ended and the Boston streets were emptied of its cars and its people. It was the obscure hours of the night when the homeless, addicts and lowlives came out to play. They roamed in the open darkness. The forgotten people on the bottom rung of society, always judged and made fun of.
She was one of them, and this was a fact that became more evident as she stood outside waiting for her friend to come to pick her up and give her a ride back to her aunt's house. Her hands rubbed the side of her arms almost hugging her body and she sighed out a foggy breath. The logger she stood out here the colder she became trying not to look and compare her to the other people on the streets. She wouldn’t do anything to get her to fix. She wasn't one of them. She was a prodigy, a talent among the common folk. Nor was she entirely homeless, roaming the streets, or pale and sickly. It was a want, not a need, she just liked doing it, she didn't depend on it. Or so she told herself.
A brand new blue Nissan Altima pulled up to the curb coming to an abrupt stop. It was a car she could afford from this side job she does, selling to people, people like her.
The ache erupting in her arms again even at the simple thought of doing more drugs, and with that ache came that same gut feeling of knowing that something is wrong but she continued to push the feeling way down deep.
“Thank god. What took you so long?”
She ducked her head as she stepped into the car and closed the door behind her with a thud.
The couch felt warm as usual. The comforter surrounding her like a cloud just enveloping her in its fabric. She was content, in pure bliss with the world. Everything felt like water again, slow and flowing, as if she were floating. The deeper she sank the warmer everything felt, the louder the music and more carefree she felt. With every passing moment she was sinking, she wasn't worried about how she was going to pay this high she was currently experiencing.
Her plug told her on the way home that she couldn't front her anymore, and she’d need all if not half the money by tomorrow. But that was tomorrow's problem and she fell asleep thinking of nothing else.
Every morning was the same, tangled hair, dried saliva at her lips, and that disgusting feeling in her heart that won’t wash away with a shower.
Scrounging through her things, knick-knacks were pulled out of boxes, papers shuffled out of the way and onto the floor, she even checked her jewelry box for anything that could be useful but all she found was fake gold and silver. The gut feeling erupted again in her gut, she shuffled her feet back and forth lightly kicking the things on her floor. Tapping her fingers on her thigh, jittery and already feeling the need creep up in her, the ache in her elbows.
Her heavy sigh filled the space as she spun around looking for god knows what, something, anything to sell that may be worth something, but she didn't have anything. She couldn't help but glance up at the door on the far side of her room, the room that connected hers and her aunts. There must be something in there. That she could use just to get the money to Mariana and then she could get the money and buy back whatever she sold. Hopefully, she could get it back in time, hopefully, her aunt wouldn't even notice. She hasn't noticed before. This wouldn't be the first time she took something.
The familiar Altima was parked in front of the disreputable and she jumped in slamming the door shut behind her. She handed Marianna the stack of folded bills and told her to keep it all in case she wanted to buy some more, it would already be paid for.
You could hear them yelling in the next room over, even with the door closed. Suzanne’s granddaughters looked at each other with confused expressions and turned down the living room TV volume. Their ears listened eagerly waiting to hear anything said on the other side of the door.
“Did you take it?”
“Did I what? Take what?” her voice came out as barely a whisper.
“Don't play dumb I know you took it out of my jewelry box.”
“Why would I take something from you? Especially because of what you do for me-”
“Don't give me that bullshit, you probably needed it to pay for the drugs.”
“Drugs, aunty I -”
“Don't give me that. I know what drugs look like. I let you do what you want, work and come and go as you please, as you are an adult. I know you're going through a hard time with your music, leaving Julliard and financial wise but this is where I draw the line.”
Her aunt's voice was hellfire and she knew no matter what she said she was condemned, shed been caught but she still hopes for some redemption.
“Even if I was doing drugs, why would I steal from you? You've done nothing but-
“ Give you a place to stay, clean, cook, and support for you? And this is what I get in return, you take from me to fill you habit -”
“It's not a habit it -”
“- and you continue to lie to me and take from me for weeks now. I didn’t want to believe it, noticing the little things that were missing-”
“But my mother's wedding ring? A family heirloom? You know how much that means to me. The necklace, the china, my watch - but the wedding ring, I bet you have got plenty of money from that.”
“I can explai-”
“I don't want you to explain. I want to tell me where you sold the ring and then I want you to get out of the house go stay with someone else. Anywhere but here.”
The apartment wasn't very quiet as you could hear the voices of some of the neighbors to the left and across the hall, and the floorboards creaked along with the faulty plumbing but it was still more of a home than she currently had. The only place she could think to go was her plugs house, maybe shed work for him, who knows. Now she was like the woman on the street. She may not look pale and sickly yet but she ruined her life for drugs. She's been ruining her life for drugs ever since a few months ago when she started using it after the crash when she could no longer play like the greats, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms. She couldn't help but wonder what her life would have been like if she hadn’t gotten drunk that night or even gotten in the car that night.
It was the day she got accepted to Julliard, her letter came in a huge envelope with the blue writing across the top corner. A good sign that she was on her way with all her years of practicing on the harp and piano and studying music. It was the only way the world made sense to her, was through music, it was something that came easy to her. Understanding the notes the melodies and rhythms and then being able to swiftly and efficiently play them without hardly learning. She just knew music and music knew her.
How could a prodigy fall so far?
After the letter, she got together for one last time with her friends to have a typical reckless adolescent high school night. They got drunk, went for a drive, got hungry and decided to drive to the closest store for snacks.
It was a four way intersection, and their driver saw the future light turn green while theirs was still red - they drove into the road and got t-boned by a truck. The car flipped. The impact hit her right side and the glass from the window shattered piercing her all over. Their screams filled the air until the car stopped moving.
When the memories and the music comes rushing in it's overwhelming but then the high slowly creeps in and the Euphoria takes over. And that's all you want again and again.
They laid the fine powder on the table and split it into a few lines for both of them. Her finger covered one of her nostrils and she hungrily sniffed up as much as she could, finishing her first line. Her friend followed in suit, and they continued on like this until the lines were gone.
She laid back against the musty couch, letting the high seep in. the music started to play louder and louder while her fingers began to remember the notes. She started playing the imaginary piano as her leg tapped the pedal causing and echo of sound that reverberated in her head. She understood the music tones and rhythms and it understood her, a prodigy fallen so far.