The Composer (Short Story)

It feels like a lifetime, though I remember the start of it all very clearly. I woke up and they were there. It was almost as if it were always a part of me; a cacophony in waiting. As I opened my eyes, the notes rolled into my head. At first, they whispered to me. Waves of sadness resonated from each note. This wasn’t the first time I’d had a song stuck in my head, but this one was different. This one haunted something deep within me. It permeated to the very core of me.

I spent the first few days trying to place the melody. Hours were wasted digging through old records and listening to the radio. Despite my best efforts, my search bore no fruit. I tried to whistle and hum the melody, but it never came out properly. I couldn’t get the pitch right, I must’ve been an octave off. Perhaps these notes required different timbre. Regardless, I tried to convey the song to friends and co-workers to see if they could help, but still, no luck.

In naivety I believed the notes would eventually pass. This hope was shattered as I entered the second week and they still held real estate in the forefront of my mind. A jingle on repeat, perpetually dragging me down. I decided it was time to take further steps. I’d never been the musical type, but this called for extreme measures. I called out of work and took a trip to the local music shop. I bought a guitar and a synth piano. They were nothing spectacular but I believed that they would do the job. Days went by without my noticing. My cell phone was dead somewhere. I forgot to call out of work and reasoned that I probably didn’t have a job anymore anyway. All I cared about was playing the instruments; about getting this goddamned treacherous aria out of my head.

The guitar ended up broken over my couch and the synth piano was chucked out of my window, into the alleyway outside of my apartment building. I reasoned that I needed new instruments. I took whatever I had left in my savings and bought every single instrument I could including a replacement guitar and piano. The next month is blurry. I ate sometimes, slept almost never. It was mostly bloodied fingers and shaking hands. After a total of three months, the melody kept playing in my head, ad nauseum. No matter what I tried, I could not reproduce the notes.

The instruments began to collect dust. I used whatever money I had left on drugs and booze. If I couldn’t get the song out of my head, I was going to shut down my head. A new nightly ritual; a bottle of whiskey dancing with a couple of pills. This became the only way I could sleep. Eventually, I’ll run out of whiskey and drugs. God help me.

Imagine being trapped in a room with one measure of a song being played by one instrument over and over again for four months straight. At this point I am a sickly stack of skin and bones. I can’t think anymore, I can’t function anymore. The notes have consumed me completely. Nothing else matters. There’s one last thing I can try; a cocktail of pills and a bathtub. I can slip away from it all.

I look around my apartment one last time. Dishes everywhere, musical instruments litter every corner. I can’t even remember the last time I’d cleaned. It had to have been in that first week. No matter now. I grab the pills and fill the tub. One last shot of whiskey to help the medicine go down as I slip into the water. I feel darkness washing over me. The notes thump in my brain like a series of crashing cars. It’s as if they’re fighting me, trying to keep me awake. They won’t win, not this time. I start uncontrollably laughing, I don’t even know why. My breath escapes me and I drift.

As my last bit of light flickers I can see the notes. They’re so vivid, so clear, I was so close. They seep out of me, borne through the aether. My last sight is of the notes soaring through the air and planting themselves into the consciousness of someone else. Poor bastard.