Lazarus let her rest her head on his chest in their embrace for a few moments longer, before pulling away, with an awkward cough. He sat on the piano stool and indicated for her to sit on the sofa again. He produced a fresh packet of cigarettes from his pocket and paused before opening them.
‘Do you mind?’ he asked, as if he needed her permission to smoke in his own home when it was hardly going to do any damage to either of them. Melissa shook her head, making her curls dance a lively jig around her pallid face.
‘No, it’s fine.’ She said, watching Lazarus pull the stool over to the open window. ‘You don’t have to –’ she started but Lazarus cut her off.
‘It’s okay, I always smoke over here. There’s probably a big pile of cigarette butts somewhere outside my window don there. I like smoking by the window.’ He stopped, realising he was rambling awkwardly. He inhaled the smoke as easily as a human inhales oxygen and behind him, Melissa grimaced. ‘Do... do I scare you?’ he asked haltingly, his voice soft, almost lyrical as he questioned her.
‘I noticed you took half a step back, away from me, when you asked if you were trespassing. Do I scare you?’ He turned around and watched as she deliberated quietly.
‘Sometimes I... I think you might... hit me.’ She paused uneasily, a discomforted silence stretching like a fragile thread between them. ‘Yes.’ Lazarus nodded slowly and turned back to the window, resting his elbows on the ledge. He leant forwards a way and stared at the urban wildlife below them. The sun was rising on the quiet town, people coming out of their homes slowly, like so many ants waking after a long slumber. He blew smoke out into the ant hill around them, wishing he could choke the people that caused so much suffering. He wished he could prevent himself from causing suffering too. Melissa hesitates and speaks deliberately, her words attempting to comfort the strange drunkard by the window.
‘I’m sorry; I’m just so... so weak. I know you could kill me so easily... like that,’ she snapped her fingers to demonstrate her point, but Lazarus didn’t turn to meet her emerald eyes.
‘But surely you know I wouldn’t, so why are you so nervous?’ Lazarus said eventually, flicking the last little stub of the cigarette into the street beneath. He didn’t move from his position, though he was finished with his smoke.
‘I... don’t know. You, you wouldn’t?’ she asked, her voice lifting a little in surprise. At this he turned to face her and took care to move slowly so he didn’t make her flinch.
‘No! Why would I?’ His voice betrayed his hurt at her assumption that he would want to harm her. At this, Melissa rose from her seat and walked towards him. He looked up into her face, silently admiring her graceful charm again.
‘Because I suppose we were never meant to live in peace.’ Her tenor drops, sadness creeping into her demeanour.
‘We can play music in peace, though. Like... death’s symphony.’ He paused and burst into laughter at his own words.
‘If only life could be like music, hmm?’ Melissa smiled and Lazarus scooted up towards the window, offering Melissa the other half of the stool. She shook her head slightly, but Lazarus didn’t see.
‘Oh! Where did that score go?’ He asked, getting up. ‘The one I wrote... earlier? Yesterday?’ he looked around and then to Melissa.
‘I think I left it on your bedside table, I was reading through it when you fell asleep.’ Lazarus didn’t hear the last part of the sentence; he was already in his bedroom, looking for it. He returned, the sheets of paper in hand, a small smile on his face. The music was already pumping through his veins like a life force. He dragged the stool back over to the piano and sat down, straight-backed and professional looking, despite wearing casual jeans and a button up checked shirt that sat loose about his frame. Melissa shook her head, wondering if he ever went shopping, or if he ordered stuff online without caring what it looked like. She figured the latter was most likely, as he spoke.
‘Feel like getting your violin?’ he asked not looking as he spread his score out to read it as he played. She nodded, though he couldn’t see.
‘Sure.’ She twirled and left the room, kicking her own door open. A few moments later, she was by his side and Lazarus counted them into the music. The melody rose and fell with an elegant grace, and Melissa smiled as she played. Occasionally Lazarus would play with one hand while he marked an expression in under the staffs, but the cadences swept them away together like a gentle tide. Lazarus grimaced just a little as they reached the coda, wishing they didn’t have to stop.