Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likness of the world. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Two weeks after the funeral, Stuart lay in the darkened bedroom. He didn’t open his eyes. He was listening to the last piece Anna had recorded. He felt the memory bloom—they had listened together and made love while her cello spiraled through the adagio. With his eyes shut, the room seemed rose-like. The dark and music enfolded him. He felt the warmth and weight of the dark. Suddenly he could taste the music, a seductive burgundy, and a kaleidoscope of colors swirled like wine mingling in a glass with candlelight—claret, crimson, fading to amber and colors he had never seen before, colors he couldn’t name. Then her perfume, roses and jasmine, infused the air, an anesthetic for his grief.
Comforted, he fell into a sound sleep for the first time in months. When he woke, the house was silent, and he attributed the experience to the half-conscious state between dreaming and awakening.
But the next day, as he wandered through the house, her music and colors suddenly filled the rooms, as though he were inside the cello, itself. He could feel the floor tremble as it would when the cello’s end pin rested on the polished oak.
On Thursday, there was silence. He was freshly bereft. That afternoon, he put the Elgar concerto in the Bose. November’s gray light filtered through droplets of drizzle on the garden windows as the cello began to speak, mournful, yet insistent. He wept. This was not the presence that had enveloped him, consoled him in the previous days.
On Friday morning, it returned as he showered. Arcs of azure, emerald, and sapphire pulsated around him. Droplets of music struck his skin. He opened his mouth, as though to swallow the notes. He felt the cello’s thrum in his throat. It vibrated through his limbs as though each tendon were a string on her cello.
He called Vogel at the clinic. Vogel seemed not to believe him but after a pause said, “Perhaps they’re cluster migraines without the pain. That would explain the lights and colors.”
“It’s more than colors. I feel the music, her cello vibrating—as if I were touching the fingerboard.”
“Well, come in then. We can schedule a MRI or cat scan. Just to put your mind to rest. You’ve had a difficult time. You saw her through a lot. We can prescribe for tinnitus, you know.”
“I don’t need rest. I wanted to tell you I hear her playing. It isn’t just a tune I can’t get out of my head. I hear it, as clearly as if I’ve forgotten to turn off the CD. I taste the music. Then the colors come, and—and I don’t want it to stop.”
Two days later, Vogel showed him the scan.
“Of course, it’s operable,” he said. “Simple, we remove it, and the synesthesia— music, colors, illusory sense perceptions— it all stops. But we have to act quickly. This type can be lethal.”
He didn’t hesitate. “No.”