It is dreadful when something weighs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.
Every time he went approached the study, the instrument was a glaring reminder of the joy and music that once filled his home, instead of silence and annoyances. It loomed in the corner, stuck out from the calm of the room, and forced itself forwards as a reminder of everything that had happened he had been helpless to prevent.
John had not touched the piano in months. There was no motivation lately to do much of anything, least of all play a frivolous instrument that held no purpose anymore. It could taunt and mock him all it wanted, using its contrast to catch his attention from other tasks. It was hard to make himself care. Just another harsh reminder of another part of his life.
hey vriska, how are you feeling?
8etter and 8etter every day, windy 8oy!
are you sure? you still look kinda...sick.
I said I'm getting 8etter! I'm not weak like the rest of those trolls. Who can't fight off a 8it of a cold like this?
So it gathered dust and sat unused, as the Egberts went about their lives as best they could. His father would go to work, and he would go to school, and that was how they spent their time away from home. They would occasionally talk or do something silly together or sit down for a film, but sometimes the happiness and normality was too hard to force.
Other times, bubbles of the past would surface through their thin shells. They would still find bits and pieces of memories floating around the house, speaking highly of the previous tenant. Black plastic. A broken die. There were crevices that had bits and pieces of the past buried into them that the two slowly discovered, mostly with trepidation and, for John, hints of despair.
Sometimes the two of them would exchange glances across the dinner table, and the air would be thick with questions that would go unasked and unanswered as they dined. What had caused it? Why could John not move on? Why didn't he ever mention the girl anymore?
yeah? what's up?
What are you going to do with you life? In the future?
But they would pass the salt and pepper and not let the questions take root. John occasionally wondered how they didn't set off the fire detector with the smoke of the questions filling the air, and if it got too awful he would slink away to his room, still covered in blues and posters and flags. Some days he wanted to tear it down, but it was all he had left.
It was never talked about, on whole. It was something that had happened, now. Their friends had lasted as long as they could have, given the circumstances. Really, how had they expected the trolls to survive on this planet, anyway? It was a countdown the whole time to their deaths. She had done her best and that was it. There was no reason to keep moping and mulling around about it. He had only known her for nineteen months.
vriska, how are you holding out? i bought bad lieutenant for us to watch later! oh man, in this, cage-
Nevermind. What did you say the 8eautiful Cage was doing?
Nineteen months and four days.
do you think it's okay if i don't do something awesome with my life?
Well, I don't know, windy 8oy! I think you could do soooooooo many awesome things so don't 8e dum8 a8out it! You could-
vriska? shit, vriska, it's okay!
Nineteen months and four days of having such an amazing person in his life, listening to his every thought, his every dream, and wish and stupid idea. And she had been so damn happy the whole time, and just enjoying everything so much. It infected him, leeched into his daily routine. Vriska Serket had been the best disease to ever happen to him.
Sometimes he played music for her. He had learned theme songs, tracks, classics, modern pieces, the Spiderman theme. Anything and everything. They would sit on the bench together, hours after he had stopped playing, to talk and live and get closer and closer as the ivory keys lapped up every snippet of information they could, caught every tear that fell and, eventually, her body as she got worse and worse.
And even though they had buried her thin, frail body, his life went on and things piled up. Especially about her. Especially the things she had left, the ones he couldn't get rid of, and even worse, the ones he could. John hated those moments the most. Somehow it wasn't the same to tell anyone else. It was a different type of burden and it was another way of dealing with it, and without her everything seemed so...difficult.
can we talk?
you know what. terezi.
She was weak! Couldn't even survive down here on the new planet? I thought she was different than those weak trolls 8ut she proved me wrong!!!!!!!!
is that what you really feel? vriska, please. i'm just a bit worried.
John didn't really understand what was going on when he found himself sitting in front of the instrument. The seat was uncomfortable, and the keys too far apart. The cracking of his knuckles echoed around him, holding whispers of her jokes and presence. It stung.
When he pounded the keys, a story formed, one from notes and keys instead of letters and structure. It flowed and bended, it became triumphant and saddened, weak and brittle, and it puttered out into nothing as he tapped one ivory key, over and over, trying to find the way to express himself without remembering her.
Impossible. There was no way to do that, not anymore. Even then, she was beside him, indenting the seat, wondering why he didn't know any pirate ballads or why he had missed that note when it had been so close. Over and over he assaulted the piano, loud and clanging. It must have sounded awful. It didn't matter. So long as he kept working, so long as she was there, or gone, or if he felt just one thing, maybe it would change everything.
Impressive. Got anything else to play?
But there was nothing else that could be said. John had poured out everything he knew, everything he had thought and felt and needed to express, and it somehow hurt just as much as before he had started. Nothing had changed, and the invisible words he had formed would never be understood.
It was unbearable, crippling loneliness that still would not quite let go. A niche that had been filled with spiders that barely even had her cobwebs left in it. It was frustrating. No, it was more than that, and he wanted to try and tell her just how he felt about her leaving. But the only words he had for it were fast floating in the air, hovering above his head.
There was a thin line, as he scrambled to the desk, between breaking the instrument and continuing to use it, but by the time John had found a pen and the blank sheets, his mind had been made up completely.
Note by ivory note, he wrote out his feelings for the troll who was no longer there. It seemed to be the only way, even if it stung. The piano didn't seem to mind. It could take the abuse and the bodies and the tears, just like it always had. It loomed in the corner, John crouched over it, composing his novel through the lines of music and saline that filled his eyes.