A Thousand Years
Summary: Letha copes with loss.
Date: 26 June 2013
Related: None.

June 26, 3013 — The Vallas Manor, Phylon

(Music: )

Sleep has evaded her much of the night, and now in the pre-dawn light, she does only what she knows to lull her spirits into what she hopes will be mournless dreams. No longer trapped in the white, plain corridors of the Phylon hospital, where the sorrow for the dying must mingle with the joy for the newly born. She is home now, in an empty house that threatens to swallow her whole.

Small, handheld holographic projectors are carefully arranged in the drawing room that had once been where her and her father so regularly played. One is placed under the piano bench, another just a few feet from the left of a simple, padded stool. That stool is where Letha Vallas then sits, bringing her old and familiar cello to bear. She is perfectly poised in a well-practiced, almost habitual pose, instrument balanced between her knees. She seems small, sad, and somber in the dim light.

The last time daughter and father played together was five years ago… five years, three months, eight days ago, to be exact. Just before her mother died. Ever since then, she has only been able to play with his ghost, a shadow of Christian Vallas. Literally.

"Gersh…" Letha says to the dim quiet, and the house AI beeps softly, announcing that it is listening. "Play A Thousand Years… recording 03.28.3008 in synchronization with recording 08.14.3005."

"Of course, Miss Letha," the AI says in his smooth voice.

Flickering to life where the projectors had been placed, fanning into life, are two yellowy, semi-translucent holographic images. One is of a middle-aged man with slightly receding dark hair and a warm, but serious expression. He appears to be sitting on that very same piano bench, the real and unreal blending together as he stretches his fingers and adjusts his feet on the pedals beneath the baby grand. The other sharpens into that of a far younger Letha Vallas — perhaps fifteen or sixteen years old. She is holding that very same cello, sitting on that very same stool, but her expression is young and bright.

There is just a moment, and then the music begins.

First there was the gambling — the need to take a risk, the need to feel a loss greater than his wife's. He slowly ate away at what he had spent decades tucking away. Furniture, instruments, paintings, and even draperies were all sold to help pay the debts. His daughter refused to sell their house. She would see it hollowed out before they would sell the house her mother loved so much.

The translucent, gold-tinged Christian Vallas sinks his fingers into the keys of the piano, in a soft, simple, slow introduction to a song that is filled with love — a love that radiates on his face, a face captured in time and alien compared to that of today. He sets the stage for the real Letha who immediately starts to draw her bow smooth across the strings as her fingers dance up the fingerboard. Long, fluttering notes mingle with that of the piano.

The younger of the Lethas joins in moments later, adding a smooth underlying score, notes smooth and graceful to her older self's primary melody. Everything comes together in a rich and beautiful serenade.

He wrote this for her mother, before Letha had been born, but it was the song that her and her father played together. It brought light into her mother's eyes, even in her darkest days. Her father never played it again after she died, but Letha still brought out the old recordings to listen to them. To remember.

The ghost of Christian past segues into a solo that is emphasized only by the soft strum of cello strings from the older Letha, her bow tucked in the corner of her thumb. The young Letha has also stopped, still poised as she lets the piano solo fill the drawing room with soft notes.

And then, as the solo ends, the bow jumps to life against the strings, drawing sunshine into the uplifting melody as droplets of noise spring forth from the piano keys. The flesh-and-blood Letha bows her head against the upward dance of notes; her younger self spins her cello body on its endpin, and she begins to beat out a smooth percussion against the hollow body of her instrument. Joy builds, and builds, and builds within the piece even as Letha's heart begins to ache.

She cannot stop now, she is so close. She pulls that last and soaring note from the strings before both subsiding so that the piano may softly transition into the sweet finale. Both cellos come together in one last time, Letha of the past and Letha of the present collapsing into a soft release over the peak of the musical zenith.

Then Letha draws her bow completely from the strings as her younger, happier self takes charge of the last chords. She can taste the tears that flood from her eyes, and her strength dissipates until all she can do is hug the body of her cello.

She listens to the last of that duet — her father's fingers at the keys, her younger self's bow at the strings. And then the recordings end, and the holograms dissolve into darkness and shadow. She is all but alone as dawn breaks over Phylon.

There is a soft beep from the house AI.

"Recording stored: 06.26.3013."

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