When Charlotte sits at a piano it’s quite some ceremony of a thing. With many players, even though they are good and you have heard them play before, and you know they are very good, still you fear ever so slightly for them in the live performance – that there will be no mistakes.
With Charlotte it was different right from the start. She sat a certain way, her body changed, upper torso straight, slightly arched in the lower back, and her hands fell to the keys as if they were moving in slow motion, and always, always, her hands caressed them first -, ran across the top of them, touching the blacks, floating above the ivories, her fingers stretching out at first and then relaxing at last. Her every movement confident and completely relaxed.
Not even the breath of a mistake ever, anywhere. Clean, clear, perfect, resonant, full, more than dexterous – slick, professional, expressive, communicative, reassuring, comfortable, mesmerising.
Usually she never smiled when she played. Not before, not during, not afterwards. This time she was smiling.
And as the final note subsided she shook her head and held her palms upwards, stretching them out towards Xan as she half-turned her body in that direction, forehead frowning, mouth still smiling.
Xan’s eyes opened wider for a moment but then went back to their normal slant-y gaze.
There was much that was passed between them – Charlotte and the other creature – in that brief moment.
Xan looked at me. “Eventually, you will have to pay for what you took.” But its thin-lipped smile was not all that menacing.
“Alors.” Charlotte pretended to fan her face with a hand. “But I am warm.”
“I have to go now,” Xan advised, in low tones. “To prepare the venue.”
Charlotte held out her arms towards me as if to say that she required assistance in rising from her position at the keyboard. I obliged, leaving my glass back down on the side-table.
She stood up, one arm snaking around my waist, and then fell against me bodily.
“Ooh là là – say ‘ooh là là,’ Charlotte,” I muttered.
“Ooh là là, of course ooh là là.” She was grinning but talking to herself really, not exactly caring that I was even there at all beside her. “You know what I need right now. I need the bedroom.”
“Oh yes, but of course...! What do you think?!”
In the bedroom, Charlotte slipped off her shoes, and got up onto the bed kneeling, crawling, over the Giza 45 cotton-covered mattress to the long metal cross beam at the bed-head. And she raised her hands extending them forward and slowly placing them onto the iron railing, caressing that in intentional preparation mindfully, moving her fingers at first slowly over the cool shabby chic bar’s surface, and then gripping onto it with strength, stretching her arms out locked straight, and moving herself into a straight out position, arching the small of her back, and placing her knees widely apart with full knowing intent.