Nathaniel sat at the only place where he could hear what he felt, with his back against the cold rock of a building wall, one leg dangling over the ledge of an eight-storey building. A single cloud passed by overhead, an ephemeral shadow suspended between faint, silver-lit stars and electric rivers of artificial gold. Even through the alarm of a never-sleeping city, he heard the lamenting tune of a piano. If he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, he could almost feel the notes on his skin. Carried by the mid-night wind, he presumed.
“There are things,” he said aloud without opening his eyes. “That can only be expressed through a piano. But I suppose you already know that.”
A smile briefly touched the corner of his mouth as the melody changed. Opening his eyes, he continued, “Exceptional, isn’t she?”
Nathaniel reached out and grasp the open air with his right hand, as if trying to hold on to the music. “It’s the subtle undertone of hope underneath all that sorrow. Whoever she is, she’s achieved what I never could.”
Tears found their way into his eyes, where they lingered for a long time before finally falling down his cheeks. Somewhere far below, the insistent siren of a police-car overpowered the piano. If only for a moment. Nathaniel drew his right hand back in, and placed it over his heart. Only when he could hear the piano again did he remove it.
“I will not apologise for my tears.” The smile that had briefly touched his face found its way back. “But I understand why they might make you uncomfortable.”
With great caution Nathaniel shifted his position. Now his left leg dangled over the edge instead of his right. The chill of the stone underneath him had worked its way through his clothes and numbed him to the bone.
“There is someone I miss, a great deal. I was never angry like my sister, nor as honest in my despair as my brother. Even though it’s been five years I don’t think either of them understand, why it’s so hard for me to mourn.”
Looking down into his lap and seeing his attentive listener busy playing with his shoelaces, Nathaniel could not help himself. He smiled. He smiled even though his melancholy never fully left his eyes.
“I could never put it into words,” he told the kitten as it pounced his heel. “But I knew the moment I first heard my neighbour play the piano. I knew that someone out there understood.”
“Do you understand?” he asked the little creature.
He allowed himself a brief chuckle when the kitten mewed at him. “You probably do.”
When the distant piano’s final note rang out, Nathaniel picked the kitten up, so that he could have a closer look at the collar. “Does your owner know you’re up here?”
Both of his eyebrows rose up when he noted the names inscribed on the tiny medallion attached to the collar. Laughter worked its way up from his stomach and out into the night. “Life sure is strange! Let’s get you home to your musically gifted human.”
He rose, stepped down from his perch and onto the roof of the building, carrying the kitten in his arms. With his shoelaces chewed on and slightly undone, he made sure he paid attention to every step he took.
Opening the door to the building and stepping through, he made his way down two flights of stairs. Eventually he stood outside a door he had never knocked on before.
Looking down at the squirming little creature, he took a deep breath and rapped his knuckles against the door. “There is something I need to ask,” he whispered and looked up in time to see the door swing open.