I once met a pianist who could play Clair de Lune. He played with such passion, such beauty that it brought me to tears. His love poured through his fingers and danced across ivory keys. My body moved to his melody in the only way I knew, and I danced for him. The Pianist and the Dancer.
It was a perfect duet.
A bright smile graced his face when he glanced up at me. I expected him to falter with such flattering distraction in his stare, but he knew that if his melody wavered, so would mine. So he played Clair de Lune to perfection. I spun about his grand piano until the final note had faded and I fell into his arms on his piano stool. There were no words from his lips, only the confession of love in the notes still humming on my skin.
Then I woke up. And my dream left me alone.
Visions of a faceless pianist bore into me from that dream, the wanting that no other man had ever shown for me, a smile that brightened the darkness I hadn’t realised I’d been in. The fantasy of him playing Clair de Lune continued in daydreams. For someone to play like that was what I truly wanted. That music encompassed everything that would complete my life and take away the agonising longing for something that I hadn’t known I’d craved. But fear kept me from reality. Fantasies don’t see flaws or reject you. I controlled my fantasies, used them to escape the loneliness.
I let my love for my pianist pour through my own fingers and used Clair de Lune as my muse. I couldn’t play like my pianist, but I had other means of expressing my emotions. My words created a story, and I became a goddess of my own world. I lived in that world, in the cities I’d designed, the people I threw all my fears and imperfections into. They never let me down, always did as they were told, good or bad. I told them what to say, what to feel, who to hurt. I needed it all. Pain. Fear. Love. Rage. It made me feel more alive than ever. But they weren’t real and soon left an unfillable void within me.
Seeking more inspiration was easy. Sharing my story terrified me, but I wasn’t alone. I found others with their own stories, their own fears, their own fantasies of love and peace and children. They became my friends, people who understood the loneliness and wanting that drove a person to share pieces of their soul.
One stood out among them, a man so honest and open that I couldn’t help but spill my entire soul to him. He became my inspiration, my encouragement, and I no longer needed a fantasy for my muse. I kept him at arm’s length at first, thinking I was crazy for what he made me feel. I learned so much through him, but I learned more about myself. We shared more than just our stories, we shared ourselves. I told him I danced, and he told me he played piano. Music inspired us both in what we wanted for our present and future. He understood me in ways nobody else had and jump-started my dormant heart.
I told him of my desire for someone to play Clair de Lune. And then he surprised me. He told me he could play Clair de Lune. It seemed so impossible that he had begun to encompass everything my dream of Clair did. My fantasies entwined as one, and he became my pianist who spoke through Clair. I wanted him to play it for me and wondered if he ever would.
I dared to ask.
The rejection was a soft blow, something laughable at best since I never truly felt rejected. He still shared, told me more than before and made me feel like he was just scared of what we could be. I was too. I’d never felt such a feeling, only in dreams.
Comfort settled into our conversations like a cosy blanket. His warmth washed over me when I felt the chill, and he showered me with inspiration in every word. I relied on him and let him lift me until I soared. I touched new heights in my work, my confidence, my self-worth. And I gave him all my gratitude for that precious gift.
Finally, he let me hear him play. Not Clair de Lune, but something new to me, something I instantly loved because it was him playing it. His music touched me, the passion, the beauty, the tears that flowed as I listened to his soul. There was no separating him from my fantasy after that. I wanted Clair from him with all my heart and had become addicted to his music. I fell… hard.
I wondered if he simply feared love the way I once had, so I tried again to convince him we were possible. This time, his undeniable rejection crushed me after all he’d done to allow me this idea. Despite knowing my feelings, he’d said things, done things to encourage my conclusion that he was just scared to try. I didn’t fear love with him, only his rejection. It stung, and I took time to process that he wasn’t my pianist.
When I came back to him, I hadn’t realised another had already captured something from him. My friend, a Flautist, who had lost her music had begun to share with him too. I’d let my music go, but life had stolen hers. She shared a story so raw that I promised to help her tell it in any way I could.
The Pianist and I, the Dancer, both understood the joys and pain of music, but I couldn’t speak it the way he could. With my encouragement, she shared her past with him, and he felt something so strong that I instantly saw the direction they were travelling. Bitterness was just the beginning of what I felt while watching them.
Music became their language, but they were fluent while I understood every third word. I watched in the wings of their stage as they took the spotlight. I’d lived all my life in the wings, too afraid of judgement. And the one time I picked up the courage to be centre stage, another took my place. Envious, I tried to keep myself attached to them for the inspiration and encouragement they’d both given me. After a time, he shut me out. I couldn’t match her or the way she stole his attention.
I danced more than ever trying to catch just a glance from him, but he only looked at her. Even after all we’d shared, I was invisible. I had only dreamed of such a connection as theirs. Maybe it was then that I decided to push them closer, but I was too scorned to do it, and it was impossible for them to do it themselves.
Their biggest hurdle was that she was loyal to another, one who didn’t deserve her and suffocated her creativity while the Pianist freed more with every tinkling of his piano keys. It was both painful and beautiful to watch the metamorphosis she emerged from.
The Pianist had freed music in both of us, and I Ionged more than ever for that fantasy of Clair de Lune and my Pianist. I’d tasted but a sliver of it through him and had accepted he would keep Clair to himself. Jealousy still had a tight grip on me as I watched the power of their music crescendo with every duet.
I should have known I was unlovable. But I didn’t know how destructible I was until I fell in love just to watch him fall for someone else. And it left me feeling like nothing… worthless.
My love faded, but my need for someone to play Clair de Lune for me was still entwined with the Pianist, and I couldn’t fully let go. I still craved his attention and praise, but he gave it only to the Flautist while excluding me to the wings of the one stage I thought I belonged.
I trusted him. And I thought I could trust her.
She knew of my feelings for him and how wounded and confused I’d been. She knew, and she let him ignore me while flaunting herself for him. My creativity began to drain and fade until I had only a husk of the inspiration I once had.
He stole it all and gave it to her.
I sought something in reality to relieve the sting, and it worked for a short time. I found another musician with the kind of creativity and intelligence that naturally drew me. He made me laugh, and I almost forgot my Pianist for a moment. It felt good and satisfying. I wanted more. But after all my efforts, rejection and pain seemed to be my fate, for once again, another stole my musician.
I’d lost too much, and life had pushed me too far. I snapped and stole the Flautist’s music so the Pianist couldn’t feel it. I don’t remember the horrid act, one I hadn’t realised would destroy us all. But I couldn’t think straight. Their exclusion had become too much to bear.
My pianist left, said it was for the best, but I didn’t agree. He’d broken my dreams of being part of something so inspiring that losing it destroyed my sanity.
What I’d hoped was a dream come true had twisted into a living nightmare.
He’d made me jealous and vindictive as I threw my hurt at the Flautist. But that wasn’t my true self. I knew his truth. He pushed me away so I wouldn’t see him fall further for the Flautist. I offered an ear and would have listened had he confessed, but fear kept him from reality just as it had me.
I realised he’d found his fantasy in the Flautist, and I decided to play the Cupid to their love story. My redeemable act to prove to myself that I wasn’t truly the hateful person he claimed me to be. I had to make them admit it to themselves before they could to one another.
I listened to the Flautist confess her curiosity, but I also sensed her confusion and frustration. I knew that feeling and refused to let it send her to the insanity it had sent me. If the Pianist was the man I trusted him to be, then he would do the right thing either way. Confess or leave and let the Flautist and the Dancer heal together.
As if my plan wasn’t perfect enough, the Flautist told me of more hidden confessions from the Pianist. Love poured into his music, encouragement and perfectly timed comfort in which she had little idea I had a hand in. She made one mistake I hadn’t factored into my plan.
She let slip that they’d played Clair de Lune.
I wasn’t ready to hear it. I had ached with all my heart for that feeling for so long that I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else sharing such intimacy while I’d just lost my fantasy. Pain like I’d never known drowned me, deafened me with scream after scream. I died inside in a thousand ways until the agony became unbearable.
I knew the power of music more than ever, and that fantasy had become all I could feel. It wasn’t real, and that was my true source of pain. One can only withstand so much screaming before one begs for silence. Terror consumed me over how much I wanted the pain to end, what I might do to make that happen if I couldn’t escape it.
I released all my pain and rage at him. I knew it would kill any chance of reconciliation, but my mind went blank as it had before. A weight lifted from me, leaving me in a hazy numbness while I let myself sink into black.
But I couldn’t escape the hatred over his coldness. I’d lost my mind to his unfathomable actions such that no apology could ever make up for. I’d spiralled too deep into a black hole of despair to want to save myself.
Time passed as I listened to the Flautist spilled her happiness while I withered further and further. And just as I began to find the strength to pick myself up, he knocked us down again.
He broke her, left her for another and stole her music. I am a reminder she cannot bear, so she left me too.
They are no more than memories of a lie that haunts me day and night. He broke me a thousand times, and I became a ghost too.
Alone with nothing but pain and fantasies. For there is no freeing myself from my fantasy of Clair de Lune and the nightmare I’m left with.