Crescendo at the End of the World
I put together all of the information I knew of Aria to try and piece together a semblance of what was going on, but even with those thoughts, it wouldn’t come to fruition until Aria would appear again. As such, with the time I had, I thought of another note to add to the song of my life. The passage of time was convoluted, and though only numerous months had gone by, still short of the yearly clause I created, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get a head start on the next note. Though it had never been a complete song, baring only a singular staff, I could play the notes any way I wanted. It had always been loose and free-flowing given any opportunity to think on them, but I never minded. Being written across with the constraint of space, I had to suffice my personal song to always be restrictive. But another part of me enjoyed the idea that I was the only one who could understand the song I made. It was mine after all.
Playing the notes of my song, I decided, as I had in previous sessions of playing, to add dynamics wherever I sought fit. Except, I decided also to supplement the song’s representations with what I knew of Aria, thinking it might lead me to some kind of revelation if I interspersed it with song. I knew the situation I had wouldn’t be solved in any such way, and that it might not have led anywhere, but it was something I had never tried before, and time was an endless factor for me.
I started slowly, repeating the notes in succession. The stipulations of the room had led me to believe that humans were the only ones who could enter my room, meaning, any animals would most likely be unable to enter under the condition of completing the “ritual,” of which I still hadn’t the single clue of what it was. Even if my sample size was minuscule, there really had been no reason for me to doubt that my goal really was to help the humans who found their way to me, and it made far too much sense to deny. The notes started blending into each other, creating a mess of sound in the air.
However, Aria was different, and accounting for an anomaly forced me to think beyond the rules I had constructed. I released all the notes into the air, waiting until all sound was mute, before starting again, this time, jumping between the measures, adding staccatos to chords. Though it wasn’t the exact anomaly, my room was connected to time through circular means, with Celeste and Flander unable to exist in their reality at the same time, but can exist in their world tangentially because of the function of time. Flander could have easily been found through photographs in the future where Celeste is and no contradictions made, and yet, Celeste can’t do the same with Flander as she doesn’t exist in his time. I never bothered to think much on it as I figured the room didn’t obey the universe’s rules, and would sort out any contradictions as it sought fit. It made operating day by day easy. Once I was finished jumping between the notes, I began connecting them through smooth scales, adding in extra tones and depth as I saw fit.
There was only so much the room could accommodate at least, that’s what I thought. It allowed humans to enter, and humans to leave. All traces of our time controlled such that it wouldn’t cause mass hysteria, or ruin its construction, always keeping the room a timeless sanctuary. If it needed to mend time to bring in guests from humanity’s far past, it could, and if it needed to bring in guests from humanity’s far future, I presumed, it also could. Regardless of how those two times would interact in this room, the room would find a way to correct itself, not destroying the fabric of the universe in time-related paradoxes. It had already proved itself capable by allowing Celeste and Flander to interact without repercussion.
I stopped playing, the notes all blurring at once.
Yet, this was only relevant to human guests.
I didn’t quite know when it would be that Aria would next appear. Time passed with Celeste and Flander, but I never ceased to keep her in my mind, even if my guests didn’t carry with them any mention. When Aria appeared, it was not through the door, but it was exactly where she had disappeared in the room, against the wall, where her guitar was hoisted. Wearing exactly what she always wore, with strands of hair seeping over her face, barely revealing her face, she looked at me.
“In the future, you’ll still enjoy music, maybe even more than you would like to admit.”
There were few possibilities for what was going on, and I had come to a few conclusions, hoping any of them were right, knowing any of them being right would be an acceptable result:
1) Two versions of Aria had visited me through parallel worlds. The first Aria who couldn’t speak was from world A and the second Aria was from World B. What this didn’t exactly explain was the disappearance, and reappearance. People of different parallel worlds in theory couldn’t exist in the same world, as that would defeat the purpose of being from parallel worlds, and they never did exist in the room at the same time, and yet, one of them had disappeared.
2) Two versions of Aria had visited me, and they were in fact different people. The assumption that the two Arias were the same person was my assumption and refusal to use my knowledge to intrude. As such, there was a possibility that I was interacting with two wholly different people. However, this still didn’t explain the disappearance, even if those two different people were from different timelines and technology. I wasn’t sure teleportation was in the list of things humans had perfected to such a degree, especially not in the way Aria disappeared either.
3) Two versions of Aria had visited me, one in the past, and one in the future. To distort the fabric of time was already something the room proved capable. To bring humans into the room was also something the room proved capable. However, to do so at the same time with the same person wasn’t, and as such, this could have been an experiment. The disappearance, however, was also left unexplained.
4) Aria had visited me. The other guest, the other Aria, was a manifestation of her past, not an actual human, but something closer to a projection. The closet parallel I could use was lucid dreams. Aria’s lucid dream had visited me first, and then, once vanished, once she woke up from her lucid dream, the actual Aria then entered. The only explanation I couldn’t find, was why both versions of her decided to visit me, and how exactly a lucid dream could even find its way to me if it required human intervention in the real world. I could accept the room’s design was far more convoluted than I realized, but, that couldn’t explain everything.
Though unable to speak, she kept her eyes on me as I relayed all of the theories in my mind, not making any motions to nod or shake. When I was done, I waited for a response. But I knew there really was only one way to speak with Aria.
I wanted her to join in any way she could, and so when I started playing basic scales, I did so without frills, playing as simply as I could. For the longest time, she never budged, not taking out her guitar, or looking at me, and I was steeped in my own lights as the outside world responded only to my sound.
For the longest time, I kept playing, inciting the air with an invitation for whenever she felt comfortable.
No matter how long I played, I made sure not to get tired, rolling the same finite scales, eventually creating variations within them to smooth the sounds in the room. I had played for a few days straight, only taking breaks to stretch my fingers, and though I thought it might have been an impossibility for me to exert my physical body to such lengths, surprisingly, I lasted. I wasn’t sure if the room was interfering, or if my body had always been so adaptive, but I was grateful, as eventually, Aria couldn’t sit without joining in.
When she did, she played support, but each of her notes drowned against mine. I slowly lowered the volume of my playing, carefully enlacing her placing above, and even though she noticed, slowing her playing all the more, I continued to decrescendo until all that was left was her playing. Eventually we hit a silence, neither of us budging.
I laughed, unable to help myself.
“We’re both real stubborn aren’t we?”
That one got a slight laugh from her.
“I guess, I’m even more stubborn than you thought, playing for so long just to see if you budge. Well, even I get tired sometimes. If you need me, just wake me up.”
Feigning exhaustion, I laid my head across the keys. It was a childish experiment. I slowed my heartbeat, finding the right rhythm until I was appropriately pretending to sleep. I had no illusions about wanting to find and dissect what Aria wanted to solve anymore, and all I had in mind was to let Aria feel as if she could exist in that space unencumbered, even if she had to do so through unconventional means. It was all I could ask for, to make sure the people who kept me company, who gave me an unimaginable amount of experiences, felt like they could do so without pretense, felt like they could arrive just to be themselves.
Though her voice was still scratched and though she stopped to hold back the pain she must have felt, she began to hum. Merging what I knew of Aria’s voice with the projection she was giving me here, I imagined what she would have sounded like if her voice wasn’t encumbered. I was sure it would have been an incredibly clear and vivid sound, reaching as far as it could to find anyone to listen, and those it would find, would be overjoyed.
When I opened my eyes, Aria was gone. She had woken from her dream, I was sure, and whatever she needed to resolve, however private it was, no longer mattered.