When I was a little girl, my mother showed me how to heal the sick, and how to cure hearts aching and waning. When she played her golden lute to those who were ill, I would see their skin regain its color, hear their heartbeats become rhythmic again, and enjoy their smiles of gratitude.
But she also told me very clearly, that this instrument was very dangerous. The lute must be played very carefully, that very few could resist its powerful sound, and to never, ever, play it amongst those who had already died. Then... she left me, and she took the lute with her. I never saw either of them ever again. I was angry, but also alone, scared, saddened. I remember seeing her walk out the front door for the last time, promising that the lute would never burden us again. Its power was too alluring, and she feared it would curse us forever.
After the villagers had turned up on our door, torches and pitchforks wielded in anger, and my mother had been adamant about being the keeper of the lute, I wanted nothing more with it. No more golden lutes, no more unearthly sounds. I just wanted to live a good life after that, and be at peace.
~~~ Many years later ~~~
"I just need to find the golden lute! I can save you!" I could see the greed in his eyes, behind the desperation. It was just like before. People asking to play it, to help others, to save them. I remembered my mother's warning, to never trust anyone with it. And Dorian… I loved him, and I knew he meant well, but if the golden lute came back here, to my home, to my family… I couldn't imagine what would befall us.
"Dorian, please… let that thing go." I tried to plead with him. I knew he was desperate, willing to do anything to save me, but… looking for it wasn't worth the trouble, it wasn't worth all the misery the lute would bring.
"I just wanna help you, Melody. Can't you see that?" He said, his strong hands gripping my frail, cold ones. His strength at a time like this was admirable, and even warmed my dying heart. I wanted to smile, but I couldn't muster the energy to even do that.
"There's a reason my mother took that thing away, Dorian. Don't go…" I just needed him to stay with me. Now more than ever I needed him on my side. And Cadence… sweet Cadence, she needed Dorian, too. And I want them both here. I wanted to see them both, their love and faces, before I left them.
But Dorian, he couldn't stop. Knowing that there any possibility of stopping this illness urged him on, and never heeded my warnings. "I have to find it. I… I have to risk it." He replied, steeling himself. I wondered if he ever would find it, and I worried if he'd still take good care of Cadence while I was away. Life would get very difficult for her, and she'd need both Dorian and Eli to have a good life. I just hoped that for as long as I lived, they'd be here with me.
~~~ Very late that night ~~~
My coughing only grew weaker, but only because I lacked the energy to even raise my head above my shoulders. I knew I had very little time left. I slowly turned my head around, seeing Dorian asleep on a chair, tired from going around the village, trying to find anything that would cure me, or at least keep me healthy for just a bit longer.
"Dorian…" I whispered, my voice too soft to be noticed. "Dorian." I tried again, a little louder. Dorian slowly opened his eyes, and looked at me. He stood up and walked up to me, rubbing his eyes and clasping my hands again. No matter how many times he did it, it was still so sweet…
"What's wrong, Melody?" He asked, attentive and eager to help.
"Dorian…" I started, unsure of how to say what I wanted. My heart felt so, so weak...I could barely feel it beat within… "Get Cadence… please…" I whispered, hoping he understood that it was important.
His eyes shifted. I had the sense that he knew what was about to happen. "Of course." He said, getting up slowly, and gently leaving the room. I laid back, listening to the sounds of my home. I heard him walk up to Cadence's room, a soft murmur of voices, and several footsteps leading to my door. The light slowly poured in as Dorian, Cadence, with Eli behind them carefully approached me. They all looked sleepy, and quite concerned.
"Mom? What's going on?" Cadence asked, in her wonderfully sweet voice of hers. Oh, how I would miss her and her laughter… and Dorian's face and arms… Eli's support and company over the years… I could feel tears watering my eyes, and I didn't care if they would run down my face... I just wanted all of them here right now.
"Cadence…" I said weakly, slowly extended my hand. I gently caressed her cheek, while Dorian grasped my other hand. Eli seemed stoic as ever, but I knew deep down he was aware of my imminent parting, trying to hold back his feelings. "Cadence… I love you very much… I love all of you so very much…" I struggled to get the words out of throat. I saw Cadence frown and her eyes water under my hand.
"Mom, please… I don't want you to go…" It was all she could think of saying. I didn't want to go either, but...I knew, it was time…
"Cadence… Dorian… Eli… I love you all so much... " I didn't really know what to say right now… Cadence suddenly hugged me, quietly sobbing under her breath, as Dorian kissed my forehead, his warmth enveloping me. What was I supposed to say now...with so little time left…
"Eli… please, help my family. They'll need help, and they know they can rely on you." Eli simply responded by quietly nodding his head, and hiding his eyes under the brim of his hat.
"Dorian… take good care of Cadence… see her grow up… and be happy…" I wanted to say so much more, so many more things he'd have to see for me, but my voice gave out again, and the tears were already falling down his face. He already knew everything I wanted to say, and everything I felt.
"Cadence…" My heart almost couldn't beat anymore… "I love you so, so much… you're so strong… and so brave… I'm proud of you… someday you'll be… a great woman... " I couldn't see her eyes, buried in my shoulder, sobbing. All I heard, between sobs, was "Mom...I'm gonna miss you so much…"
She lifted her head up, tears rolling down non-stop. I gave her one last smile, to let her know that I would love her from beyond my lifespan. As I lay there, heart almost still, I looked at my family, one last time, taking in their faces, their tears of love. I kept smiling as I closed my eyes, happy to be with my family, happy to have them here, happy that this… was my last memory…
And I could feel… my heart… I was… ready to leave… I could feel… it was time… for my… very… last… heart…