Miki is a rare pupil, one that must be treasured and sheltered. If not, he could very well wilt like a flower exposed to too much sunshine.
You sit beside Miki on the piano bench, eyes flickering between his face and his hands as they dance across the keys.
The lesson ends and you lower the key cover a little too fast, trapping the fingers of Miki’s left hand underneath it.
You hold Miki’s hand, caressing the pained fingers. You enjoy your proximity to the boy, and the texture of his skin.
“Oh dear me,” you say, “I’ve damaged you.”
As you exit the piano hall, you see Miki’s beautiful twin. You are intrigued by their sameness and yet wary of their differences. Kozue is darker, sharper than Miki. Where he is soft, she is brittle.
The sun sets, red and bloody. Something has happened, and now you run, run down the staircase with the wind whipping your face.
Behind you, something moves. It may be the wing of a bird, a girl’s hand, or your sheet music flying away.
Later, a paramedic will pick up one of your teeth. It is white and cracked, like a broken piano key.
You lie rigid and numb in a cold hospital bed. The nurses pass over you like shadows.
“Do you know, do you know, have you heard the news? A student came to visit him today.”
“I saw, I saw! But he was asleep, poor guy.”
“Such a pretty little thing! With blue hair like the sky.”
“And what beautiful flowers, too.”
Your mouth is stitched up and you slur your words when you ask to see the flowers. The dusky nurse-shapes move closer. Your blood turns to ice water as you behold your gift: a bouquet of black roses.