Jane’s mother had forced her to play; one in just a long line of attempts in calming her tomboy daughter. She resisted and complained, but secretly loved it because she was good at it. She was good at it because she could control it. She was good at it because it was all about rules - and then all about breaking the rules, two things she was very, very good at.
Every afternoon she would slip across the road to old Mrs. Martin, who would greet her with a peck on the cheek and a cookie, always happy to see her best student. Jane practiced, practiced, practiced, every day, her fingers dancing lithely across the scales while her voice complained and whinged, amusing herself by keeping even her complaints in pitch. She never took grades, because that would mean acknowledging she was good at it. She never participated in the school music program. She resisted Mrs. Martin's urging to seek further training, lessons beyond that which she could give her. Jane loved her music, but it was never anything she wanted to share with anyone. It was hers. Her escape from the world.
When Jane woke, still half in a hazy oblivion with the concrete floor transferring it's unending chill into her back, she shifted her eyes from the roaming shadow flitting in and out of her peripheral vision. Her hands ached to the point of agonising numbness, unable to lift them, or any part of her body, from the ground. She could hear Hoyt circling, getting closer and closer. Shutting him out, she let the music fill her head. Louder and louder, the notes ran through her mind. Skipping arpeggios and vibrating tremolos swarmed her senses. Her finger tips moved, slipped over the bloody concrete to tap out the fingering of the piece. 1. 3. 1. 4. 5. 1. 4. 2. 3. The fingering she had agonised over, the patterns she had ground into her mind flowed past the pain and out through her broken hands.
"My little virtuoso," Hoyt crooned. Jane didn't hear him.
The first time Maura visited Jane's house she did so with all her usual inquisitiveness, running her hands over every surface, poking her head around every corner - her innocent desire to know overcoming any sense of impropriety. Jane was intrigued by her open curiosity, by this strange woman, this doctor, who was everything she was not. But when Maura slipped the arm of the metronome from its catch, the weighted metal swinging back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, Jane felt each click resonate through her body, focusing outward from the heavy scars on her palms.
"You play?" she asked, her voice completely free of guile, her mouth quirked in that sweet grin Jane was starting to recognise. "I never learnt an instrument, though I wish I had."
Jane felt her teeth scrape as she fought to keep her voice restrained. What could she say? Yes, she knew the piano inside out. Yes, she had the notation for several complex concertos in her head, just waiting for her fingers to call them up once more. Yes, she played used spend her evenings with cool jazz and cooler whisky. But no. She didn't play. Not any more. The very thought of her fingers tracing out the keys again bought bile to her throat.
"Will you play?" Maura asked, her voice light but her eyes begging. "Please Jane, I would love to witness your technique."
Maura had this way of speaking, that Jane didn't know how to respond do. Korsak had been asking for years to play for him. Her mother had nagged for months, telling her that playing would help with her recovery. Frankie had been showing her with new music, shopping for the sister he worried around every day. But nothing had moved her to sit at the bench. Until Maura. Until she walked into something she couldn't possibly have understood and asked Jane, simply, and unknowingly, to do something she never wanted to do again.
Lowering herself to the padded bench, she felt it give way under her familiar weight, creaking as it always did. She lifted the lid with shaking hands, running her long fingers down the white keys. The ivory keys of her old piano were cool to the touch, yellowing under her hands. The contrasting keys blurred and refocused before her eyes as she stared, telling her hands they weren't on fire, weren't about to burst open at the seam.
"Jane?" Maura prompted. Startled at her voice, Jane twirled, her hair swinging as she turned to see Maura's encouraging face. Jane didn't know why, but she couldn't bring herself to disappoint her. For the first time there was something louder than the fear in her head.
When Maura sat down on the bench beside her she forced herself to return the grin. And when Maura found herself transfixed by her Jane's dexterous fingers, by the beautiful melodies she wrangled from the creaking piano, Jane felt the fragile seams holding herself together tighten just that bit more.