"The music is all around us. All you have to do, is listen." - August, from August Rush
I wasn't born blind. He did it. But I have a way to see. I listen. I listen to the music. And even he can not take that away from me.
He laughs a bitter laugh. "You're a useless child. Nobody would want you. Nobody. You're just lucky I stayed with you after your mother died." He takes another long drink out of the whiskey bottle. After he was finished, he takes the empty bottle and hits her with it. The sharp glass made contact with her eyes. Then all she remembers is pain and a horrible shrilling sound. Her scream.
Odette wakes up in cold sweat. Nightmares still plagued her even though 2 months had passed since the accident. Slowly she gets up, careful not to wake up her dad. Wake him up and you'll lose you're voice. She makes her way out of the room and in to the small kitchen, hoping to find a little food. It has been a while since dad went out grocery shopping. With that thought, she opens the cabinet and felt around. Nothing. There was no point checking the fridge. Dad hadn't paid the electric bill lately, so they have no power in the apartment. She wander to the bathroom and washed her face, thankful that dad had decided to pay the water bill this month.
Slowly, she grabs her coat and seeing cane, opening the front door and quietly closing it. She makes her way down the stairs and out the stuffy apartment building. Dad won't mind if she buys some grocery. He would be hungry when he wakes up. She walks down the busy street. It was a loud place to be. Cars blasted their horns at each other, people shouting, the sound of shoes meeting the cement. But music seem to fill her ears. A melody. She hums. Notes in her brain streams together as if they were meant to be together. Her hands starts moving. Composing. She closes her eyes, unaware that she wasn't moving. Suddenly, a car horn waked her out of her day dreams. "Move it, little lady!" the driver shouted quite rudely.
Quickly, she crossed the street. She walks to a close Safeway. The smell of fresh food and baked bread confirms it. She walks in, hearing the small sound that the automatic door made, wondering what a good breakfast would be. She checks the her coat pocket and found a couple of crumpled up paper. Money. She sighed. She needed to see in order to know how much there was. This was the one thing and only thing that bothered her since she had became blind. Following her strong sense of smell and hearing that somehow increased over the 2 months she had been blind, she got a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, and a packet of bacon. Dad would like bacon. Dad always liked bacon. Despite the fact that her dad was always drunk and hits her, she wanted to make her dad proud. She reckon that if her dad was proud of her, he would stop drinking, and everything would be back to normal. Back to the way it was when mom was alive. When everything was happy, when her dad used to teach her to play the guitar and bass and drums, and beamed at her and said that she had natural talent. Back when her mom use to teach her piano and cello and violin, and smiled and told her she would end up in Juliard someday.
Yes. Back to those days when love and music was surrounding her, day and night, night and day. Now, it's only the music she hears. But music is nothing without love, without soul, without feelings. Her feelings went numb and on hold the day mom died and dad went out to a bar and came back yelling at her while holding a knife. She has nothing but fear now. Sadness, too. People say sadness brings good music, but she has more fear than sadness, and she never really liked sad music. They brought her down. She likes to be cheerful. Happy. With this thought, Odette paid the cashier and walks out the automatic door.
Odette never got to her house, however, because just when she got out of Safeway, a hand clamp over her mouth and dropped the grocery she had gotten. She attempts to scream. Just then, a strong hand punches her and knocks her out. Her last thought was if her dad would notice she was gone.
Someone took off her blind fold but it was still dark. She could feel light shined on her.
"Aww man, look here, Kris, she can't see," a voice said. "Look at, she didn't even react to the light."
Another voice scoffed. Probably the guy named Kris. "She can still work to tie the looms. You don't need to see for that kind of jobs. You worry to much, Gill."
"I suppose you're right. The looms is all about the hands, eh?"
Kris grunted. "I'm always right, Gill. I'm always right. Now, don't you ever forget that, ya hear?"
They both laughed and Kris picked up Odette as if she was a bag of flour, slinging her on his shoulder. "She's as light as a feather," Kris said. "Means we don't have to feed her much."
Gill snorted. "We don't really feed anyone here, do we?" They both laughed. Odette thought it was a terrible joke, but it was true. She hadn't eat a proper meal since her mom died.
They dumped her on what felt like a stool. Odette couldn't feel the sun on her face anymore. Either the weather's gone bad, or I'm in a room with no windows.
The music was gone, too. All was silent, and there wasn't a sound anywhere. "Now learn how to tie those looms, blind girl," she heard Kris said. "We expect you to have those done in 2 hours." Odette then heard a door groan as it closed with a loud thud. A faint humming sound began to emerge. Must be the looms, she thought to herself. Then she felt an arm around her. Automatically, she flinched.
"It's ok," a boy's voice whispered. "I can help."
Odette mouthed the foreign word. Help. Something she has not heard or received in years, something she needed, but was too afraid to ask for. Afraid that her dad might get taken away from her and she would be left alone with some foster family who would probably treat her worse than her dad, afraid that her dad, the only family she had, would get arrested and she would never hear from him again. She let mysterious boy guide her hand to the nearest loom. "Remember the patterns. It would help," the boy said.
Slowly, the boy began tying the looms, guiding Odettes's hands and fingers. Odette paid close attention at what her hand was feeling, how her fingers moved and danced. She hums a melody, something to go along with her fingers' dancing. The boy's voice broke her daydream. "That's it. Now show me how to tie it by yourself."
Slowly, she puts her hand on an untied loom and began tying. Odette remembers the melody, her fingers dancing among the looms, tying them, pulling the strings tight. Every detail that went along with a cheerful melody, despite the horrible condition she was in. She stops when she was done and she could feel the boy's widened eyes on her, staring in disbelief. She could feel other eyes on her, too. "Nobody ties a loom that fast," a new voice said. Odette made a note that it was a girl's voice. "Except for the boy that was once here, 10 years ago. A mere legend."
What boy? Odette thought. Out loud, she asked, "Where am I?"
"Are you blind?" a gruff voice said. "We're somewhere dark and dusty and forced to do labor, of course. Some of us here were captured, some were sold by parents."
"I am blind," Odette replied to the gruff voice, facing where it had came from. "But I can see. You have a scarred heart. Don't worry. It will heal if you allow it to, and I will help."
The gruff voice huffed and grunted. "Don't get in the way too much, kid. Being nosy ain't good for you. Now just tie the stupid loom already!" The reply frightened Odette. He sounded like her father whenever he was having a hangover and she tried to help. Being nosy ain't good for you, Odette. Just leave. Go to your room!
She quivered a bit until that familiar hand that guided her through the looms found hers. Automatically, she turned to where it came from. "Who are you?" she asked. "What's your name?"
She could almost feel him smile. "Gustavo." He paused. "Orpheus Gustavo." Odette smiled at the name.
"Like the man in the Greek Myth. The one with the lyre."
He laughed. "Yes, him." There was the faint humming sound again as the children went back to tying looms. Odette started on hers too, remembering what the men had said. We expect you to have those done in 2 hours. She didn't want to know what the punishment was if she didn't have them done.
"Your parents, they like music?" Odette asked softly, hoping to strike up a conversation.
Orpheus laughed. "Yeah. Yeah, they do. I mean, they did."
There was a pause.