We didn't speak of it again during that lesson, nor did we play a single one of the pieces that I thought I'd written. Instead, we practised technique and spoke as little as possible. I thought Anna was angry at me and asked her if she was - she said no, telling me that I shouldn't worry so much. She was just confused, and didn't really know what to think about all of this.
"That'll do for today," she said, although I should have had another five minutes before the lesson ended and we normally overran anyway. "You need to go home and work on that piece. Just that one, mind, nothing else. Do you understand?" I nodded. I knew what she was trying to tell me. "And if anyone asks you who wrote the pieces you played at your concert, just say it was a selection from well-known composers. Don't say anything."
At last I ventured a comment. "Will I get in trouble for this?" I asked her, my voice betraying the fear that I was trying hard enough to hide. "I can honestly say that I didn't ... realise. I didn't know. I thought it was my own music, you know? It never occurred to me that it might not be."
Anna shrugged. She always wore rustly clothes when I was with her - I don't know if that was her normal style or whether she did so so that I could 'hear' her body language, but I appreciated it nonetheless. "I don't know. We won't speak of it. I doubt it, since you have not tried to market it as your own work and have made no money from it, but I honestly can't say. Still, let's finish here and say no more about it. "
Dissatisfied, I put Elenora back in her case and tied the ribbons carefully around her neck so that she would not move around. It was too early to finish - I had so much music left in me; I couldn't leave it here! But I had to. There was so much left to be done ... yet something inside me said 'not yet'.
"I'll see you soon," I said to Anna, then giggled. "Well, not literally." She laughed too, but nervously. People were often cautious when I made jokes about my blindness, since they didn't know whether I would be offended if they laughed too. For me, being blind was a fact of life and something that wasn't about to change, so I didn't have a problem with it,. But they felt obliged to be awkward and careful about what they said.
"Right." Escorting me to the door as she always did, where Mum was waiting for me, Anna whispered in my ear, "Don't let the music go to your head." But she didn't explain what she meant and I couldn't ask questions with Mum there.
When I got home I was puzzled. "Mum, why didn't you tell me that the things I played had already been composed? All this time I was so sure it was my own music, yet they're mostly three hundred or more years old. I feel so stupid."
Bless her, she didn't know what to say. "But Mark, I didn't know. You know I don't really listen to that sort of thing - how was I to realise? Of course they were vaguely familiar, but nothing really stood out to me. They just sounded authentic." Those were the words she had used to describe my first pieces. 'Authentic'.
"Well, they're not mine." I considered elaborating, and telling her how much this had frightened me, but decided against it. She was sensitive. "I don't even know if I'll ever be able to compose a truly original work. Perhaps I never will. After all, how can I know if the music in my head is mine or someone else's?"
And I could see that she had no more ideas than I did.