Here’s another short excerpt from my piece of fiction “Wandelaar van de Duisternis”, that I wrote about when describing the catharsis of creative writing. This is just a minor scene, with no real significance to the main storyline, but I do like the images that it invokes.
I wouldn’t normally visit Amstel Station during the day, especially late afternoon as the rush hour began. With so many passengers heading home from work, there was a good chance that there would be sensitives among them, and in the living realm I would likely be noticed. But being in the Veil made it possible.
Amstel was one of only two stations in Amsterdam that I knew had a piano. There was one at Sloterdijk as well, but that was tucked away in a corner where few people even noticed it. And I did sometimes enjoy just sitting and listening to some of the talented people, living and dead, that played. Sometimes even both at the same time.
Perhaps there is a natural empathy between musicians living and dead. Seeing the Veil as a series of overlaid images can be distracting, hearing noise from both the living and the Veil can be jarring. Yet music is never discordant. A musician playing in the living will somehow harmonise with the sounds of music being played in the Veil.
Today though, there was nobody at the piano in the living. There was the usual buzz and bustle of activity: people checking the departure boards; buying tickets; rushing for their trains. Others were sitting with a coffee, and eating sandwiches or patatjes, while the ever present pigeons scrambled underfoot for crumbs.
But in the Veil, there was one solitary ghost playing to an otherwise empty station. An elderly woman, in a cardigan and a red scarf. Yet despite the ravages of arthritis, her fingers still moved over the keys with wonderful fluidity and grace.
The pianist was playing one of my favourite songs, “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free”. It was such a haunting tune, and the lyrics were so powerful, I found myself singing along. I don’t have a good singing voice, but she looked up and smiled at me as she played, perhaps pleased to have somebody listening to her performance.
When she finished, I clapped enthusiastically.
“Thank you ‘Living’. It’s nice to have some appreciation.”, she stood and made a little curtsy. “I can’t fill the Concertgebouw as I used to, but I had hoped that I might find some small audience here.”
“There will have been a few sensitives there among the living that were touched by your music. You’ve eased the stresses of their day as they hurry for their train home, stirred a few hearts, and perhaps inspired a youngster to take up music.”
“You’ve got a slick tongue ‘Living’, and know how to make an old ghost happy. I wish I’d known someone like you when I was still alive. I made some bad choices with my men. But I’ve no regrets: there were good times enough to outweigh the bad.”
For just a brief moment, as she arranged herself on the seat once more, I saw the elegant young woman that she must have been when she performed to packed audiences at the Concertgebouw. I excused myself.
“I’ll be back in a moment.”
As I walked across to the forecourt of the station’s express grocery store, I heard the opening notes of ‘To Love Somebody’.
There were always buckets holding bunches of flowers standing just inside the door in the living, nobody would miss a single stem plucked from each from within the Veil. When I returned her eyes were closed, too rapt in the music to notice. I stayed for a few more tunes, applauding after every number, before I thanked her and bade her farewell. She was still playing as I walked out of the station.
When finally she did finish and look up, it was to find a bouquet of roses on top of the piano.
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