Here's part 2.
It has been a while, so part 1 for those who need a refresher.
The following day, I headed straight to the music preparatory room after school. Not only did Miss Maki loan me the keys, she also gave me permission to look through all the scores on the shelves.
Well, Tetsurou's study was better stocked in terms of genres as compared to this place, but no one knew the locations of the different scores (aside from the very person himself) since he never tidies his room properly.
I spread the staff papers on the desk, placed my bass on my knees and began to browse through the pile of scores. However, I had no will to move my right hand with the mechanical pencil in its grip.
I tossed the pencil away with my hand.
The classes' preparations for the school festival starts at four-thirty, but I skipped it anyway. That's because the Folks Music Club begins our practice at four-thirty in the studio. I had originally planned to come up with something before our practice, but my brain was filled with nothing but Mafuyu playing the piano.
I suddenly thought — what if I get Mafuyu to help me out with the piano or the synthesizer on stage—
Wouldn't I be able to keep Mafuyu around with that? What if I get her to play the piano in the band?
I had jolted all my ideas onto the staff paper when I was fiddling with the synthesizer at home. The synthesizer was nurtured by Tomo's very own hands, so it was well stocked with all sorts of sound effects. That unit alone contained almost all the sound effects found in movies.
If we could use that synthesizer onstage; if Mafuyu was willing to play the piano for me — if that happens, then any song...... or even something as extravagant as including guitars into EL&P's <PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION >—
I shook my head and tore the staff paper into shreds before rolling them up into a ball and throwing them away.
It's about time I move away from EL&P and Mafuyu's piano.
Even if she had the intention to pick up the piano once more, there was no way she would be willing to play the piano beneath the spotlights just for my sake. That was something I already knew since a long time ago, wasn't it? I shouldn't even be thinking about keeping her by my side...... Though I have not asked Mafuyu what her plans were.
Just then, my train of thought came to a halt. I could not think any further.
I then heard the sound of the door opening. As I turned my head around, my eyes crossed with a pair of navy blue eyes.
I stood up in a hurry. Mafuyu walked in silently and looked at the messy scores, the notebook and the pencils that were on the desk. She then asked,
"...... Sorry, am I interrupting you?"
"Nah, there's not much progress anyway. Are you going to practice the piano?"
Mafuyu nodded stiffly. I was using the piano chair. I tidied up the scores, stood up and decided to head somewhere else. It felt a little nervous to be with Mafuyu right now.
Mafuyu tugged the hem of my shirt just as I was about to leave.
"...... Urm, why are you stopping me?"
"You don't have to leave."
"L-Look, it's not like I am deliberately trying to hide fact that I am playing the piano again from you."
Mafuyu covered the lower half of her blushing face with the scores. She looked upwards and peeked at my expression.
"I had intended to tell you only after I have done it and became good at it. If possible, I hoped to tell you after the recordings."
"...... With Yuri?" I was wondering why I asked her that question.
"M-Mmm. Urm, but......"
"No, it's fine. It's not like I really mind," I lied. "This is the only place where you can practice in school, yeah? I'll head back to the classroom after I am done selecting the scores."
"You can listen by the side."
There was no way I could leave after hearing that from her. Just as I sat myself down before the desk, Mafuyu began playing the Hanon etudes in the various octaves. I stared hard at Mafuyu's back while she sat before the piano. I was overcome with an inexplicable feeling as I watched her maroon colored hair sway along with the steady rhythm.
Speaking about the characteristics of the pianist Ebisawa Mafuyu, the first thing that came to mind was the uniform strength she exerted on all her fingers on both hands. A certain critic likened that as something similar to 'breeding pearls of the exact same sizes'. I was not quite happy with the way he put it, but I understand what he was trying to portray.
After listening to her at such a close distance however, I realized that her right hand was slightly weaker when it comes to the high notes. Those were the three fingers that Mafuyu had once lost.
I think I managed to pick that out only because I was listening out for that. If I were to immerse myself into the music just like an intricate toy that was powered by flowing water and drifted along to the rapidly rising octaves, I would definitely not have noticed the two-and-a-half years break to her playing.
Just then, her practice stopped all of a sudden.
"I-It will be better—" Mafuyu turned around and looked at me, "if you do not stare at me. It's hard for me to play like this."
Then...... off I go. With that said, I walked past Mafuyu, only to find her tugging at my shirt yet again.
"You don't have to leave."
What the heck is this? I've no idea what you want from me. I sighed, made my way back to the desk and turned the chair away from Mafuyu. This time round, she was playing phrases that required her to span her tiny hands to a tenth. That was really impressive. [Editor note: It refers to distance between her thumb and pinkie while playing the piano; they are ten piano keys apart.]
Her piano sounded almost as beautiful as before. The blank period to her playing may still surface on a certain piece or two. However—
Mafuyu will be leaving soon.
That realization of mine was much more real and pressing than all the sentences she had said before. This time round, she was not running away to a certain place by herself — she would be soaring back into the world where she belonged with her healed wings.
And so, I no longer have any reason to stop her.
None? No reason at all? was that really true?
If Mafuyu leaves— Even though I wished to stay by Mafuyu's side, but if Mafuyu really leaves, then I—
I flinched in surprise and stood up on reflex. Turning my head around, I saw Mafuyu standing behind me without me noticing, her head stretched out to look at the staff papers in my hand.
"Eh. A-Ah...... Y-Yes?" I let off a strange voice subconsciously.
"There is no progress in your composition?"
I covered the empty staff papers in a hurry, though it was already too late for that.
"Is there anything I can do to help? I can play any song you want me to."
"Eh, ah, no......"
I was very happy how she was willing to do that for me, but it just felt worse when I was once again reminded of how she could play the piano.
Speaking of which, all I had to do is to ask, no? If she was returning to the status of a professional pianist, and should she resume her performances—
What is she planning to do with the band?
But I could not bring myself to ask. I was afraid of Mafuyu's answer.
"I can play the original version or even Rimsky-Korsakov's interpretation if you want me to. It's okay even if it is impromptu."
"No—" I sighed. I just couldn't focus my thoughts on <PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION> for now, but I can't remain stuck either.
"My thoughts are not sorted out yet. I have no idea what I should be doing for now."
"Kyouko mentioned about how a rock band had performed <PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION> before. I guess you know about that as well?"
"You're talking about Emerson, Lake & Palmer? They're the reason why I'm stuck!"
"It will end up as a copy of their version regardless of what I do."
"And that's not okay?"
I looked at Mafuyu's face, surprised.
"I guess...... not?" I grabbed the scores of the original <PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION>. "Because I've no understanding of Russia's musical nationality. I spent a whole night researching it only because I received a job to write about it, and it's not like I have learned music composition seriously. This...... This is something that is born out of mimicking what I have heard from someone else — how can I possibly compose something good out of that?"
"How do you know if you do not try?"
I shook my slumped head.
"That's nothing more than an inferior copy. I've no idea why Senpai delegated this job to me. Are you interested in trying this, Mafuyu? Not only have you played this before, you're also much more knowledgeable than me when it comes to Mussorgsky, isn't that so?"
I spilled out my thoughts while staring at my hands, but soon realized Mafuyu was clenching her fist. What greeted me when I lifted my head was her face filled with anger. She said,
"That has nothing to do with what you have in hand! You should be the one to compose this!"
"Didn't I say it already? Whatever I compose will end up as nothing more than the rock version of the original melody. I mean, that's all I've been listening to up till now! I've only listened a little of the classical music."
"Isn't that fine!?"
Mafuyu slammed her palm hard on the empty staff papers, and that caused me to nearly fall off my chair in shock. I straightened myself and looked at her.
"You really have no idea why Kyouko passed that job to you?"
Mafuyu's navy blue eyes were staring straight at me, and all I could do was to shake my head absent-mindedly and reply,
"...... I really don't...... know......"
Because I cannot differentiate between Senpai's jokes and her serious words. Mafuyu lowered her gaze, her shoulders were trembling non-stop.
"It's...... It's because of you that I......"
My chest was assaulted by a sudden surge of pain. Just as I was taking in a huge gulp of air due to my inability to convey my words properly, the door opened all of a sudden as though someone banged against it.
"Yeah, they're here! Both of them!"
There were two people at the door — they were Chiaki and Class-rep Terada. The sight of them both caused me to forget everything, including the words that I was about to say and the reason why I was in this room.
"...... What's with that attire of yours?"
Chiaki and Terada were both dressed up in very feminine black dresses with plenty of frills — very similar to those worn by Yuri during his live performance. And they even put on the headbands as well.
"You've no idea what's happening because you always skip the festival preparations, isn't that so? It looks like our class will be doing Gothic café."
"Sorry, never heard of that."
"And Nao will be the waiter," Terada added.
"Now that's something new!"
"It's your fault for not being around for the poll! Come here, we'll be sizing you up. Put this on right now!"
She tossed a black object into my face. I opened it up and realized it was a half-apron and a vest. So they have the costumes all ready huh......
"Also, to the Princess over there who's behaving like she has nothing to do with whatever's happening here — you're the waitress as well."
Mafuyu was just as surprised when Terada shoved a goth-lolita dress into her arms.
"Nao, you'll be changing at the corridor. We'll be helping the Princess to change."
"This dress is not something which you can wear on your own on your very first try, so let me teach you how to do it." Chiaki's eyes were sparkling all of the sudden. I was pushed onto the corridor before I could even say a word.
Thanks to that additional burden, we were forced to skip our band practice. We had to work on the interior decorations of the café as well as come up with a menu after class. Whenever I had the time, I would spread the stave papers apart and stare at them as I sank into despair. Then again, I could only practice by myself even if I made it to the practice room. The reason we could not practice together was because I was not done with my composition yet.
I find myself pathetic for the slight feelings of relief in me. I would definitely not be able to think deeply into this if I never talk to Mafuyu, and I would be running away from trying to conclude this.
It seemed like the First Class of Second Year will be doing a play of <Romeo and Juliet> at the sports complex. Senpai, being the main character of the play, was all busy thanks to the rehearsals, so she would only be at the practice room for our band practice after six. However, Mafuyu and Chiaki were stuck with our class' preparations, so they could not come down for the practice.
"It feels like the role of Juliet does not suit Senpai one bit......"
"That's because our script is modified off the <West Side Story>. That's why the Juliet whom I am playing will not die at the end. Instead, she's a character who will bring an end to the feuds of the House of Montague and the House of Capulet."
I see. Now that was something I could understand very well. What a scary Juliet that is.
"And I took the opportunity to seek my classmates' assistance with the lightings during our live performance. That's because the Folk Music Club will be performing right after my class."
I am really thankful for that.
"So all that's left is to wait for you to be done with your composition. Can you finish it by this week?"
Senpai grabbed me by my collar just as I was about to slip out of the practice room.
"Oh right, the effects should be great if you can use grand words to fill in the lyrics for <Promenade> or <Great Gate of Kiev>. How about the hymns from the Russian Orthodox Church?"
"Why are you making things difficult for me......"
"Because, while you'll complain and moan, you will always answer my expectations at the end of the day. That's how it has always been, be it the chorus contest or the sports day. That's what I like about you, young man."
Please do not hold my head with your arms and say that to me with such close proximity!
I wanted to ask Senpai what Mafuyu meant when she said "You really have no idea why?". However, I swallowed my words upon facing Senpai, who looked like she would bite onto me while putting on the smile of a ferocious beast. What was the point in asking her that anyway?
Could I respond to her demands, or will I fail? The answer must be one of the two.
And so, I took a trip to the library on my way home. In the end, the four of us could not fork out any time to practice together. It felt kind of sad to head home without making any progress.
But where on earth were the hymns of the Russian Orthodox Church located? Were they related to religion? Or foreign literature? Come to think of it, it was unlikely for me to find such books in the school's library in the first place. There were not many people around, so I walked about aimlessly between the bookshelves as my gaze wandered around the endless spines of books.
I did want to meet Senpai's expectations of me, but I was short of time. If all I could do was to struggle on the same spot while wrecking my brains out on something which I deem impossible, then I might as well apologize to Senpai right now!
I am just an ordinary high-school student who had studied only a bit on the history of music and its theory, and I have only picked up the bass just four months ago.
By coincidence, I came across a small silhouette standing before the shelves of foreign literature, causing me to almost yell in surprise. Mafuyu froze for a brief moment as well with her hand reaching out for a book on the shelf.
"Why—" Why are you at the library? I was about to ask her that question, but I shut my mouth immediately. Speaking in the library was strictly forbidden.
Mafuyu quickly placed the book back onto the shelf and shook her head hard. She then walked past my side in a flash and went out of the library. I did not even have the opportunity to stop her.
It felt like she was avoiding me ever since that day. Come to think of it, I said lots of depressing stuff to Mafuyu back in the music preparatory room. Not only did I shift the blame of my lack of progress in the music composition to other things, I wove a whole lot of excuses as well—
Moreover, I did not ask the most important question.
Will she not come to school any more? It was just like what Ebichiri had said — Mafuyu has been applying for leave frequently in the recent days. Perhaps she was busy with the recordings.
It somehow felt like Mafuyu was slowly drifting away from me before I could express what I wanted to say.
I took a glance at the shelf that Mafuyu was searching earlier. I had no idea if this was some sort of coincidence or what, but she was searching for Russian literature as well. The books were indexed with the character "タ (ta)". Then Chekhov, Turgenev...... Fyodor Dostoyevsk......? Tolstoy? No wait, not all the books on the shelves are novels. There were a few books on Kagurazaka-senpai's favourite revolutionary, Trotsky as well. Mafuyu was planning to read stuff like these? I didn't recall seeing her read these kinds of books. [Editor Note: Bookshelves in Japan are sorted by kana order; for example, "ta" would be followed by "chi" "tsu" "te" "to". Thus, "Chekhov (Chehhofu, che is a compound sound starting with chi)", "Dostoyevsk (Dosuefusukii, do goes with to)" and "Tolstoy (Torusutoi, ru comes after su)".]
I guess I really didn't understand Mafuyu a single bit after all. It was always music whenever we spoke with each other.
However, we will no longer be able to chat like that in the near future.
Mafuyu had already taken up an unimaginable amount of space in my heart.
Will Mafuyu continue to stay in feketerigó as its guitarist — all I had to do is to ask. But I was afraid of her answer. There was no way I could ask.
Can you...... stay with me here by my side?
And with that came the weekend. I did not make my way down to the practice room on Friday after school — I head straight home instead. That was because I made no progress at all, and the stave papers were as spotless as ever. That was just embarrassing of me. I could not bring myself to face Mafuyu, Senpai, or Chiaki.
Even though I hesitated for quite a while, I sent a mail with a rather unconvincing "Sorry, stomach's aching. I'll be heading home first" to Chiaki's phone. I hugged my head and squatted down at the entrance when she replied with "You have always sucked at feigning sickness, you know".
I was quite worried about how I should respond should any of the three girls give me a call, but I hid myself in the blankets, plugged in my earphones and blasted my ears with the music of <London Calling> by The Clash until I fell asleep.
I woke up to the ringing of my handphone and checked the time groggily. Nine. But I had no idea whether it was the morning or the night. No wait, the light's filtering in through the curtains, so it should be in the morning. I was assaulted by some strange noise which had caused me to nearly miss the ringtone. And why does my head hurt? It took me a while to realize that I was still wearing my earphones. I quickly removed the earphones that were playing the voice of Joe Strummer endlessly.
I took a look at the incoming number. Not from my band mates, but a number unknown to me and it started with 03...... From Tokyo?
I was greeted by a clear voice the moment I accepted the call.
"—Naomi? Are you Naomi? Great, I finally got through!"
There is no way I would forget his candy-like voice. Come to think of it, I did give him my number. But why was he calling me?
"Are you free today, Naomi?"
"Today's a rest day, isn't it? Can you head down to Shibuya before three?"
"Eh? Ah, well......"
I rapped my temple with my fist in an attempt to jolt myself awake as I answered him in a daze. Shibuya? Today, and then what?
"We've made an agreement with each other, didn't we? It will be me who will invite you next time so that I can retaliate."
It still felt like my eyes were obscured by something hazy. Yuri was looking for me? So he was serious about it and did not actually just say it on a whim? What did he mean by retaliating?
My low spirits were more or less related to Yuri, but it's not his fault. And it was rare of him to invite me.
Perhaps it was not a bad idea to meet up with someone whom I can talk music with other than my band mates, but that may just turn into a scenario of him listening to me while I whine and complain. I have no desire to let Yuri see me in such a state—
"Urm...... where shall I wait for you at three?"
"You are willing to come down? That makes me really happy! There's a 3L Studio located at Spain-zaka, do you know where it is?"
"Ah...... It should be okay with a search on the net". I have not visited Shibuya before.
"See you at three, and do not be late."
"What's going on over there?" Since the place was a studio, it should be something related to the band?
"Secret. I want to give you a surprise."
I knew he would say that. That was just the sort of person he was.
"Oh right, I have a question for you. I am fine with meeting you, but about your attire......"
"Mmm, don't you worry. I'll be wearing something cute that you'll definitely like."
That was not what I meant! But the phone hung up on me just like that. I kept my phone and booted the computer. I got the information I required straight away when I searched for '3L Studio'. I printed the map out since I was not familiar with Tokyo. If I were to factor in some time just in case I got lost, I would need to set off at noon.
I should have taken a closer look at the search results. If I had done that, I would have known the reason Yuri requested to meet me there.
Spain-zara was filled with stores on both sides, with their appearances dominated by the popular Southern Europe styles. The place was exceptionally crowded, perhaps due to the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon. It was a street filled with an irritatingly large amounts of cafés, general stores and fashion stores. I never expected myself to sweat in October, which was all thanks to the heat caused by the crowd.
It took me a while before I could finally locate the pristine building with the words <Studio LLL> written on the wall along with the logo of the recording company. That caused me cower a little. Wait, so this was actually a commercial recording studio?
There was a lady in uniform behind the counter. She led me into the building when I gingerly told her my name. Studio No. 7. We walked past a lobby with a kitchenette in it before opening the soundproof door that was located furthest to the left.
"Mr. Hikawa is here."
With that, the counter lady urged me inside.
There was an incredibly large mixer - the largest I had ever seen - that occupied half the space of the control room. It looked like the cockpit of a giant robot straight out of an anime. Sitting on the chair before the mixer was a guy in sunglasses with a sparse beard. He was giving off quite a wild aura, so I thought he was probably the music producer or something. That person shot me a brief look. I can tell he was not too happy despite the sunglasses on him.
Standing next to him was a fat middle-aged man who was almost bursting out of his polo shirt. Probably the audio engineer or something. He grinned and walked towards me when he noticed my presence.
"You must be Tetsurou's son? Nice meeting you."
"Urm...... How do you know?"
"Hmm, I used to receive lots of care from him back in the days. As for what they are, I can't really reveal them."
As expected from the industry's ruffian. No wait, where was Yuri?
Just as I scanned my surroundings with my eyes opened wide, the door to the control room opened all of a sudden and a small person came rushing in.
Yuri was about to rush towards me to give me a hug, but the producer stood up quickly and grabbed him by the collar to pull him away.
"Don't be silly, head back to the recording room now! This may be a test recording, but I have no time for you to be fooling about! You are not the only person who is doing the recording here!"
"Uhhh—" Yuri swung his limbs about with tears in his eyes. He was not the only one who's doing the recording?
I took a look at the soundproof glass located in front of the mirror. On the other side of the window was a spacious recording room filled with plenty of microphones, and in the middle of the room was a black piano with its lid propped open—
Her maroon coloured hair swayed lightly. She then looked towards me.
It was Mafuyu. It was indeed Mafuyu sitting before the piano in a pale yellow dress. She crossed sight with me. Lots of different expressions flashed past her face before she returned back to her calm state. She then turned her face away all of the sudden.
"Mafuyu said she wants you here."
I could not believe what Yuri had said. I looked to-and-fro at the side profile of their faces that were located on either sides of the glass window.
"She wished you can listen to this song which we will be recording right now."
Mafuyu...... did she really want me to listen to her duet with Yuri?
Her navy blue eyes were looking at me through that thick glass once again, and her gaze seemed to be inquiring something from me. However, Yuri blocked her gaze with his back when he returned back to the recording room.
Mafuyu turned away to face the piano after giving a nod in my direction. Yuri lifted his violin and flashed a brief smile before picking up his bow.
With my mind in a mess, what came to me was this: I see, so this is the retaliation Yuri was talking about?
Back then, I asked Yuri out and made him listen to the mashed-up concerto of him and Mafuyu playing together. And this time round, it's Yuri's turn to strike.
I had created music based on the imaginary world of the synthesizer — with the help of others no less.
However, Yuri can create the 'real form' of that tune together with Mafuyu.
"Hey, Hikawa Junior."
The bearded producer spoke to me softly,
"Don't just stand there, take a seat. You are here to look, isn't that so? Please don't create any trouble for us."
I slumped myself in a chair prepared by the audio engineer.
Yuri's and Mafuyu's eyes, which were of the same bluish color, turned ice cold the instant that voice reached the recording room — a gaze which I had never seen from them before. Both of them were neither suppressed nor burned to crisp by the light beaming down from the skies above. All they did are to look at the endlessly-stretching seas before them.
Yuri stabbed the tip of the bow in his hand towards the skies. The volume of the sound dropped in an instant after a brief passage of the majestic accent. At the same time, Mafuyu replied with a conflicting feelings of gloom and passion, forming a harmony with the sounds flowing out from her piano. The questions and answers between the two then embedded themselves firmly into the A minor. The first movement was a passage sounded like a person who was groping about in darkness. Yuri's hands were pulling that song towards the light.
This song is—
Beethoven's Opus 47, <Violin Sonata No. 9> in A major — <Kreutzer>.
As my brain was engulfed by the sound that was searing its presence onto me, I suddenly recalled an old explanatory article that was written by Tetsurou.
There are countless numbers of duet concertos written for the piano and the violin, the king and queen of the classical musical instruments. Before the appearance of Beethoven, all the concertos were written with the piano as the main focus, while the violin serves as a decorative ornamental, an 'accompaniment to the piano concerto'.
— That was what Tetsurou wrote. I guess this is something well known by all composers already, but the timbre of the two instruments were fundamentally not compatible with one another, so there is no way one could harmonize the two instruments together just by themselves. Even the genius Mozart could not bring the queen on equal terms with the king in his violin concertos.
The idea of harmonizing them together was finally abandoned in Beethoven's era. And in this <Kreutzer>, a final form of the violin concerto composed by Beethoven, comes the portrayal of the 'battle' between the violin and the piano.
And now I had finally realized the meaning behind those words.
A sense of frustration was brought about by the stagnant atmosphere, baiting for the hammering from the piano. The violin's passage then began to dance as though it was engulfed by the tongues of the flames. The same melody were sent to my ears constantly, though they were either sliced into pieces or stomped into dust; there were times where they were above me, others below. The gradually increasing heat was seeping its way into my ears before finally tearing apart its wounds and bursting into a touching movement. It felt like someone was taking away my sense of hearing within my consciousness in response to the music; but despite all that, I could not move my gaze away from the other side of the window — the scene of Yuri and Mafuyu giving their all as they play.
Both of them were standing on the same ground at a place high above me.
It was a place where I could not reach with my hands, a place where I was screened off by a wall of mirages.
How long has it been since I cried from listening to music? A searing sensation streaked past my cheeks, but at the same time, the retorting personality within me was thinking calmly like an idiot. Even back when Misako left the house, my emotions on that morning were nowhere close to what I was experiencing right now.
Why does Mafuyu want me to listen to this?
As of now, the one by her side...... is no longer the the person who was lending her his shoulders and supporting her with his exhausted body. That meant she has found someone who could fight together with her beneath the same sky. What does she want from me after I was done listening to this song? I had no idea.
But there was one thing I was painfully clear about — I will never be able to touch Mafuyu, who was standing on the other side of the glass window, ever again. That made me really sad. My tears were burning my throat.
At the end of the first movement, the melody of the two soared through the storm towards the gap between the clouds. As they flew upwards, they harassed and gnawed at each other before they were finally cut off by a crash.
Yuri lowered his bow gingerly amid the lingering sounds which shook even the soundproof walls. Mafuyu lifted her hands slightly off the keys of the piano as well. I stood up subconsciously. I knew Mafuyu was about to look in my direction, but I had no confidence of taking on her gaze.
I pushed the back of the audio engineer aside and made my way to the door. The two person behind me seemed to be saying something. I rammed the door open with my body and stumbled my way towards the lobby.
As I was surrounded by the dry air of the real world, I finally understood that the dampness on my cheeks were not just an illusion. I burst out of the building and dashed through the crowds of Spain-zawa. While taking in huge gulps of air, all I felt was my shirt drenched in sweat sticking on my back. It felt like my body was about to be melted away by the heat.
But I cannot stop in my tracks.
If I stop in my tracks...... if I steady my hurried breaths and regulate my heartbeats, the <Kreutzer Sonata> played by the two would reverberate endlessly in my ears once more — not just that, but the variations in the second movement as well as the tarantella in the third movement would surface in my mind despite the fact that I did not listen to them. And they would tear me into pieces.