He Waited In Wavering Smoke
I saw him waiting at the train station, just as everyone else had been doing that very morning.
Bodies filed in and out of the carriages, pacing past and up the tiled floors and stairs. People with furrowed brows repeatedly glanced down at their wrists, as if doing so could possibly make time go any faster. The station was a swarm of bees, of people buzzing over one another as murmurs filled the atmosphere. Echoey announcements were called over the PA, along with thudding of footsteps across platforms and the sounds of trains pushing against the rusty steel tracks.
But among these sounds, there was another. I had to listen carefully for it, grasping on like holding a piece of thread. A warmth spread over me, swirling around in rich golden harmonies. So intrigued, my surroundings slowly fell silent, the buzz of the train station fading away.
And then I saw him. With his chin resting against a fiddle, he swung back and forth with his mighty bow. With such great passion, his song radiated light in the dark. The music he played took the form of a fair lady. It played gentle like the glistening ocean in her eyes, ruby-coloured as her strawberry hair and sweet like her kiss. But as I listened further, I realised there was actually an edge of pain in the way he played, as although the fair lady was so fine, she seemed incomplete.
Thick black smoke slithered out of the fiddle and above the man’s head. The smoke painted gleaming eyes, gnarly horns and fur so dark it swallowed up the night. It was a beast, grotesque and ugly, the complete opposite of the music that played from the fiddle. The hideous thing shook about violently, its tail stuck onto the fiddle. My heart became beating drums, I couldn’t keep my eyes away. How could something so demonic be born from the most elegant song? It spoke, but I was surprised when instead of a roar of terror, my ears were met with the sound of weeping.
“Relieve me of this pain!” the voice cried in agony. “Somebody see that my heart bleeds in such bitterness!”
I stared at him, playing the fiddle still. He spoke along with the beast’s voice, tears streaming down his face. Drowning himself with the fiddle, he was crumbling away.
But my attention wavered as I was suddenly shoved by a person hurrying past me, reality tugging me back to my surroundings. I once again heard the buzz of murmurs, the echoey announcements over the PA, the thudding of footsteps and the trains pushing against the rusty steel tracks. But I could no longer hear the fiddle. I spun frantically around looking for him but it was like he had never existed.
He hadn’t been waiting for a train to whisk him towards his future, I realised. He had been waiting for someone to halt in the present and see him.
I was too late.