The City of Mirrors Page 134

Then she was somewhere else.

She was playing a piano. This was strange, because she’d never learned. Yet here she was, playing not just well but expertly, fingers prancing across the keys. There was no sheet music before her; the song came from her head. A sad and beautiful song, full of tenderness and the sweet sorrows of life. Why did it seem entirely new to her but also remembered, like something from a dream? As she played, she began to discern patterns in the notes. Their relationship was not arbitrary; they moved through discernible cycles. Each cycle carried a slight variation of the song’s emotional core, a melodic line that never wholly departed but supported the rest like laundry on a string. How astonishing! She felt as if she were speaking an entirely new language, far more subtle and expressive than ordinary speech, capable of communicating the deepest truths. It made her happy, very happy, and she went on playing, her fingers dexterously moving, her spirit soaring with delight.

The song turned a corner; she could sense its end approaching. The final notes descended. They hung like dust motes in the air, then were gone.

“That was wonderful.”

Peter was standing behind her. Amy leaned the back of her head against his chest.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” she said.

“I didn’t want to disturb you. I know how much you like to play. Will you play me another?” he asked.

“Would you like that?”

“Oh, yes,” he said. “Very much.”

“Pull her up!” Peter yelled.

Greer was looking at his watch. “Not yet.”

“Goddamnit, she’s drowning!”

Greer continued looking at his watch with infuriating patience. At last he looked up.

“Now,” he said.

She played for a long while, song after song. The first was light, with a humorous energy; it made her feel as if she were at a gathering of friends, everyone talking and laughing, darkness thickening outside the windows as the party went on and on into the small hours of the night. The next one was more serious. It began with a deep, sonorous chord at the bass end of the keyboard, with a slightly sour tone. A song of regret, of acts that could not be recalled, mistakes that could never be undone.

There were others. One was like looking at a fire. Another like falling snow. A third was horses galloping through tall grass beneath a blue autumn sky. She played and played. There was so much feeling in the world. So much sadness. So much longing. So much joy. Everything had a soul. The petals of flowers. The mice of the field. The clouds and rain and the bare limbs of trees. All these things and many others were in the songs she played. Peter was still behind her. The music was for him, an offering of love. She felt at peace.

They swung the net over the side and lowered it to the deck. Greer drew a knife and began to slash at the filaments.

In the net was the body of a woman.

“Hurry,” Peter said.

Greer hacked away. He was fashioning a hole. “Take her feet.”

Michael and Peter drew Amy free and laid her faceup on the deck. The sun was rising. Her body was limp, with a bluish cast. On her head, a scrim of black hair.

She wasn’t breathing.

Peter dropped to his knees; Michael straddled her at the waist, stacked his palms, and positioned them on Amy’s sternum. Peter slid his left hand beneath her neck, lifting it slightly to open the airway; with his other hand he pinched her nose. He fit his mouth over hers and blew.

“Amy.”

Her fingers stilled, bringing a sudden silence to the room. She lifted her hands above the keyboard, palms flat, fingers extended.

“I need you to do something for me,” Peter said.

She reached over her shoulder, took his left hand, and placed it against her cheek. His skin was cold and smelled of the river, where he liked to spend his days. How wonderful everything was. “Tell me.”

“Don’t leave me, Amy.”

“What makes you think I’m going someplace?”

“It’s not time yet.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Do you know where you are?”

She wanted to turn around to see his face and yet could not. “I do. I think I do. We’re at the farmstead.”

“Then you know why you can’t stay.”

She was suddenly cold. “But I want to.”

“It’s too soon. I’m sorry.”

She began to cough.

“I need you with me,” Peter said. “There are things we have to do.”

The coughing became more intense. Her whole body shook with it. Her limbs were like ice. What was happening to her?

“Come back to me, Amy.”

She was choking. She was going to vomit. The room began to fade. Something else was taking its place. A sharp pain struck her chest, like the blow of a fist. She doubled over, her body curling around the impact. Foul-tasting water poured from her mouth.

“Come back to me, Amy. Come back to me…”

“Come back to me.”

Amy’s face was slack, her body still. Michael was counting out the compressions. Fifteen. Twenty. Twenty-five.

“Goddamnit, Greer!” Peter yelled. “She’s dying!”

“Don’t stop.”

“It’s not working!”

Peter bent his face to hers once more, pinched her nose, and blew.

Something clicked inside her. Peter pulled away as her mouth opened wide in a throttled gasp. He rolled her over, slipped an arm beneath her torso to lift her slightly, and pounded her on the back. With a retching sound, water jetted from her mouth onto the deck.

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