Part Three, Inheritance: Sea Change
His long, youthful fingers were a grace against the strings of the Goya acoustic he held. The song was a heavy one. He began to sing then, and as Wil listened she could imagine that the perfect voice of this young man had held other songs, and maybe even other languages in its grasp. He had such a way with the music, a feeling of words that only came with age. She knew, for she had seen a like glint in the eyes of her parents, seen it in the milky gaze of the elderly on the streets. But his eyes... those deep, impossibly warm eyes what sparkled with wit and the frosted, wiemeraner brown of horehound candies, they held something dark. Something dark and... golden. The refrain drifted up again, and sighing in wonder Wil allowed herself to focus on it, to truly hear the words as if for the first time.
“Sagt wo sind die Veilchen hin?
Die so freudig glänzten
Und der Blumen Königin
Ihren Weg bekränzten?
Jüngling ach! Der Lenz entflieht,
Diese Veilchen sind verblüht!
Sagt wo sind die Rosen hin?
Die wir singend pflückten,
Als sich Hirt und Schäferin
Hut und Busen schmückten?
Mädchen ach! Der Sommer flieht,
Jene Rosen sind verblüht!
Führe denn zum Bächlein mich,
Das die Veilchen tränkte;
Das mit leisem Murmeln sich
In die Täler senkte.
Luft und Sonne glühten sehr,
“Jenes Bächlein ist nicht mehr!
Soon she would find him on his corner, the guitarist with the magick hands. She rounded the corner, feeling the ancient cobbles resounding under her feet as she imagined what he would say when she presented her gift to him. She didn’t know why she had chosen to bestow her collection of antiquated German coins on the stranger, only that it seemed to fit into some puzzle. He and those coins, both. Maybe even Wil herself, since she had felt so compelled to give them, her last memento of childhood. Well, she thought as she slipped past a tall American in a black suit and wormed her way through the rest of the gathering crowd, heading toward the young musician, at least I’ll have an audience. But it was only him she cared about, only him she saw as she weaved in and out of the throng. She could never have imagined ten days ago that a simple glance could have instilled so much... self-reliance. Now, remembering that first look, she found she had the will to do better, the drive, the first real chance to overcome some of her fears. In her anxiety to reach him, her shiny shoes snagged on the old pavers, and she ground into the dust and mud of the street, just short of his naked toes.
He waggled them in her face and kept on playing, and still there rose a resident twinkle in his eye that no one so youthful should have possessed.
Wil shivered as two of the young man’s slender left phalanges gently brushed her nose. He smelled... strange, like chocolate and old books and warm summer days without a care. A clink beneath her drew his liquid, horehound eyes like fine German bloodhounds on a scent, and soon his guitar was handed off to the American in the stark Italian suit while he chased after Wil’s prize marks.
“Move back, if you please! Let them be, and take absolutely nothing that didn’t belong to you in the first place. We don’t want an unpleasant scene this early in the morning, do we, gentlemen? Ladies?”
The American flashed a badge then, the shiny blue and white of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. A Special Agent? What was going on?
“Oh, these are special marks, these, you genius, you.”
The younger man, her musician, sounded like a boy who’d lost his dog.
“I’ll take them. All of them. Ohhh! Tell me you don’t mind! Odd bit to be carrying them around elsewise.”
Wil glared. What had she seen in him? But still, all the time he spoke his eyes were on her, smiling on and up and over and through her like he was generating some kind of energetic displacement. Perhaps he was sensitive to magnetic fields? Or she was. Why?
Suddenly the crowd had left her alone with him. With them, two men. And she felt more at ease then she ever had with her father.
“You were singing the original lyrics. What year is it, as of yesterday morning?”
She let the last word, calculated to throw him, crack off her tongue and waited. And while she waited, she analyzed the agent’s vocal patterns. Deep South, probably Louisiana, although it didn’t bleed through his German in the slightest.
Said American, a near-albino with bright grey eyes that flashed like double moons, grinned at her, then turned to watch the object of her attention with equal interest. Her musician, however, could have been made of freshly made chocolate, for all that he promptly melted like a cocoa bunny left in the heat of the day once he’d turned her question over in his head with more than a few confused tosses of the short, floppy brown mess that was his hair. But that smile, that big, winning grin, had left his face. Wil felt her flash of happy intrigue leave her at this knowledge, and at once it was as if she’d done something wrong. But what? How could she have? He was crying, staring at her blankly through tear-filled, dark candy drop eyes that gleamed like Christmas snow. How could she have done it? She didn’t know what, or why, but she had to touch his face, wipe the droplets away before he caught himself. Even the albino agent was frowning at him, his ragged emotiveness filling the air with the thick blush of... was it cinnamon? Puppies? Old candle wax?
“Oh god I’m sorry! I must have hurt you, mustn’t I? What was it? I have to know.” She couldn’t help herself, the words just came. Before Wil realized what had gone on, he was wrapping his arms around her, holding her as though she were an infant. A white hand caught her eye as she looked up, the fingers moving to rest on her musician’s other shoulder.
“It’s all right, sweetheart. You just... reminded me so much of someone I loved. A young girl, about your age. All spunk and bright fire, she was. It was your hair that reminded me, eventually. Of the fire, that is. It’s always fire, with me, Miss Beinert. You’d do well not to get burned.”
The musician’s eyes were sparkling again as he carefully untangled his arms from around her neck and stood back, though with what kind of light, Wil couldn’t be sure. Perhaps he had known what she was trying to catch him in, after all. He must have. And despite this, he’d let her do it.
“Who was she?”
A smile! At last, a smile played over that strong, reluctant jaw line! Wil bunched her fists and waited for the revelation.
“She was my granddaughter.”