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Finding Eden(3)

By:Mia Sheridan

I nodded my head, feeling something that felt a little like hope. I was going to be safe, warm, fed. I might at least have that.

"Good. Then that's settled. I'm going to assume that because of where you were lined up last night you don't have anything other than what you came with?"

I shook my head, looking down at the clothes that hung off my body. "I'm sorry. Once I work for a little bit, I'll be able to afford some different clothes . . . ones that look nicer . . ." I trailed off, embarrassed, but Felix waved his hand in the air.

"I'll front you some money for some new clothes. Marissa will go out today and pick you up some things. You met Marissa last night."

I nodded, and then studied Felix for a minute. He was older, probably in his sixties, I'd guess, but he was still a good-looking man with bright blue eyes, and a full head of salt and pepper hair. "Felix, I don't understand this. Why are you doing this for me?" I finally asked him.

He looked up at me, and then over at several pill bottles I hadn't noticed before, sitting on the side of the table. He took one bottle in his hand and unscrewed the cap, throwing a pill back before answering me. I couldn't help notice that his hands were shaking. Was he ill? "Because I made the wrong choice yesterday when I saw what happened in my store." He looked thoughtful for a minute. "When I saw you again on the street leaving the line for the shelter, I saw it as a second chance to do the right thing. I made the wrong choice once before, too, Eden, and I never got a second chance to correct that one. Does that make sense?"

"I think so," I said quietly.

He nodded. "Okay, good, then it's settled. You have a place to stay and I have a new piano teacher. Speaking of which, I'll need to get it tuned. It hasn't been played in years." Sadness appeared in his eyes for a brief second and then it was gone as he stood up. "You relax here today. Tomorrow, you'll meet Sophia. Marissa is here all day if you need anything."

I nodded as he walked past me. "Thank you," I said softly, gratitude and relief filling my chest and causing me to suck in a breath. His steps slowed as he walked past my chair, but he didn't say anything and a few minutes later, I heard a door close down the hall.

I spent the morning in my new room, reading the books I found on the night stand for the escape they brought, and curling into a ball and crying when I couldn't hold back the tears.

Around lunchtime, I heard Felix arrive home. Soon after, I heard the doorbell ring and then listened for the next hour to the sounds of the piano being tuned.

When a knock came at my door, I opened it and Marissa was standing there with a smile on her face.

"Lunch is almost ready, dear, and the piano is tuned if you'd like to try it out."

"Thank you, Marissa. You don't have to make me food though. I can come to the kitchen."

Marissa waved her hand as she walked away. "It's no trouble."

I nodded, but then called out, "Marissa?"

She turned. "Yes, dear?"

I cleared my throat. "Felix . . . um, does he . . . allow you to go out?"

Marissa tilted her head, furrowing her brows. "Go out? You mean out of the house?"

I felt color rise in my cheeks. "Yes. I mean, if you want to. Does he allow it?"

"Yes, of course. I'm free to do as I like, as are you." Her expression turned to one of concern.

"Okay," I said softly.

Marissa just kept looking at me for a second before she nodded her head and turned away.

I walked down the hall to the living room where I'd seen the large grand piano earlier and sat down at the bench, taking in a big breath before laying my hands on the keys. As I began to play, it felt like I was back there, in the main lodge, playing for the council, being paraded before them. I closed my eyes, tears escaping out of the corners to make their way slowly down my cheeks.

I heard someone speaking and opened my eyes, listening to the words being spoken in another room. Despite the sound of the piano, I could hear them clearly, the acoustics in the ceiling delivering the voices straight to my ears.

"She's good," I heard Felix say quietly.

"She's better than good, Felix. Where does she come from?" another man asked, the one who had tuned the piano, I assumed.

"I don't know. She hasn't told me. She seems so very sad, though."

There was a pause before the other man said, "I knew another piano player who brought that same quality to the music she played."

"Sadness?" Felix asked.

"More than that. A broken heart," the other man said very softly.

And then no more was said as the music poured out around me, coming from my fingers, my heart, the longing in my soul, from all the shattered places inside me. And each note echoed the same name . . . Calder, Calder, Calder.