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Upon the Corner of the Moon

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She hears the melody, and it's like a heartbeat, a pulse. Each of the players on her stage within a stage have their own peculiar strain of music, and she hears them. She picks up each thread, each sound, each beat, and weaves them together.

The melody is brash. It's discordant. It's magic, it's life, it's neverending. She loves it.

She hears the Macbeths, strong and weak twining together until there's nothing but madness, madness. She hears the nurses, slow and dutiful, hears their voices grow tremorous as they draw closer to the truth. There's the king, pealing bells cut short, and his son, a frantic, pleading melody that would never catch up to his father's in time. Agnes's tune dips in and out of his, here and then away, high and low, frenetic in its eagerness to delve deep. Below, The Macduffs are sweet and mournful, a half-forgotten love song underlaid with simple, thoughtless cruelties. Bargarran and Fulton's songs duel with each other, manic and methodical by turns, crisscrossing paths that come together with fists or a kiss, and she walks through it all, draws them close, draws them together.

But then there are her favorite strains of the melody. The ones that struggle helplessly in the steady, raging noise. The ones that try to get away.

She feels them as she walks into the bar, a familiar sort of familiar hot on her heels. He hangs back like an echo, the last lingering vibrations as strings fall still, almost silent, but still there, more feeling than sound. His eyes gleam in the dark as she reaches out to them. She breathes in, in, in, lets her heartbeat merge with a thousand others, and yanks.

They stumble in, as if cords or chords or both are wrapped around their limbs and pulling them along in a dance they feel but don't know. They've never been closer to her as they are right now, blood magic reaching a glorious crescendo as they scream in agonized bliss. But in music as in life, there is a come down after every climax. The music quiets for the first time, and they stare at her, confused by its loss. She feels them fall away from her then, and holds her breath, as ever, as always. They spin from her, their music weak and confused and trembling. They keen at her loss, and at the promise she will come again, and she hears that high, mournful wailing cutting through the melody. Their singing, terrified and lovely, is always her favorite part of the song. She waits with her echo, patient. The song dies away, as it always does, and she welcomes them back into her sound with a slap and a kiss. They flinch even as their eyes deaden and are replaced with the light of her madness.

Beneath it all, though, sequestered and forlorn, she hears it. It hovers there, a beat in the back of her mind--the one melody that she doesn't touch. It is her bass line, steady and dependable, each note drawn from him and into the dust. It wavers occasionally, and that's the treat. Her music, wound through her fingers and clasped to her breast, is at her beck and call, her slightest command. But the bass line, the thrumming undercurrent of her symphony, it wavers--and she never knows when it will come. It's her last excitement, the surprise that keeps her music fresh in the eons before and to come. The slightest waver, the smallest disobedience, the desperate fluttering of a moth as it flings itself against the glass of its prison. It sends shivers up and down her spine.

He hears the music, too, she suspects. He is no composer, though. He can only read the music, see the way that it spirals on and on, out to infinity. The notes grow wet with his tears, but she pays them no mind. Blood, sweat, and tears are resin to her bow, and she takes no little pleasure from extracting them.

The composer, the artist, the maker and unmaker, sees the audience around her. They watch her, rapt and unmoving. And she takes a bow.