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Huilunsoittaja

Touch: Chapter 16

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Nadia left early in the morning to get to her own home and clean herself up. Tonight would be the last session of work, and then it would be done! 2 and a half months of work finally came to this.

But with all honesty, whenever Nadia came back to her home every day, she felt something missing there. For a long time, Nadia was able to ignore this uneasiness in her own home, but now she realized what it was: Andrei wasn't there.

The more time she spent at Andrei's the less she liked to be at her own home. What reason was she felt it increasingly unnecessary to spend any time at her home. What was there to do? She might as well just... stay with him.

Nadia was disturbed that her mind turned that way, but she couldn't help it.

"And when this symphony is over, I guess he'll keep me for more compositions... and more useless paychecks... and further pain... Nothing works to stay at a professional level ever, does it?" So Nadia sat in gloom doing nothing but thinking in her apartment for the rest of the day, until she would be expected to come.

At 3 she was expected, and eagerly she arrived. And Andrei was there, sitting at a table, again working on his Braille.

A sort of pang went through Nadia when she saw him this time.

"So you've arrived so punctually... do you feel ready to start working right now? It's all in my head, as I was putting it together this morning."

"Already? Ok."

Andrei and Nadia took their usual places as before, him at the piano, and Nadia at the table next to him with the manuscript. He played a few bars from before, to show Nadia the context.

"Now we begin, starting with the violins in right hand, cellos in left..." Andrei played a series of counterpoint between them for 8 measures.

Nadia got it all 100% the first time.

"At the same time as violins, horns 1 and 2 making this sequence..." he also played it, "and horns 3 and 4 come in 4 measures later." Four voices playing together.

Nadia wrote it all perfectly.

"What's the dynamic?"

"Oh... regular forte I guess," he said.

"Any articulations?"

"Not here, everything is slurred, but between the 1st and 2nd horns..."

This was typical conversation between Nadia and Andrei. 100% professional, diligent, and efficient. This is how they came to work so quickly, and although it was complex music, it was working out perfectly. If there ever was an error, Nadia and Andrei would go through the part writing together to find where it didn't match up, and all would be solved. It of course took time to rewrite the whole page, but it was better than many pages after making a major voicing error unnoticed. Nadia used pen all the while, but she didn't mind.

Around 5 o'clock, it was finished. Nadia stared at the immense pile of manuscript in front of her that contained the entire work.

"Now, remembering what I can... I want to play this entire symphony through. You look at the music."

"As you like."

It took a full hour for Andrei to recite what he played, and Nadia scrutinized every detail on the manuscript, writing in little accents and dynamics as he went along. He slowed down the fast parts since it was not necessary to have it at performance tempo when looking for details. Sure enough, Nadia found small mistakes, but marked each one for further review later. Observing it all from a distance, Nadia delighted in all that she heard. It was powerful, it was orderly, and it was touching. Hearing the symphony in all its fullness, everything seemed to fit like a puzzle, with no part missing.

The last chord triumphantly resounded through the room. Andrei sat back. The servant, who had come in the room to listen began to clap.

"It's perfect," Andrei declared.

"Oh, not quite," Nadia winced.

"Oh you don't say!" he said with mock despair.

"I did find a few errors I made, and quickly wrote them down."

"Don't worry about it now, Nadia. Tonight, we celebrate. Ilya! [That was the servant's name] Get the champagne! You may have a drink too!"

Together, Nadia, Andrei, and the servant dined and drank to each other many toasts of congratulations.

"To Andrei, the brilliant composer of his wonderful Second Symphony!" cheered Nadia.

"And to Nadia, who I couldn't have done a thing without your tireless work and commitment," said Andrei.

They looked happily and resolutely at each other.

After dinner, they decided to play music together at the piano. Nadia had by this time become quite proficient, and had developed good sight-reading skills, thanks to Andrei who kept challenging her. She came to learn a number of Chopin Preludes, Mazurkas and Waltzes, and also a number of short works by Schumann and Mendelssohn.

To show off, Andrei played an entire Chopin Sonata from memory, and also the notorious Schumann toccata. Nadia gaped while his fingers moved like lightning over the keys, and she was shocked that he could do it without ever playing a wrong note. In the end, he started playing some of his own works, notably some Etudes and single Pieces.

It was soon very late, but Nadia didn't think once of leaving. Tired, they sat down to talking for several hours more. But after a while, a thought in the back of her head began moving forward.

"Andrei..." Nadia began, "There has been something I've wanted to ask you for a while, but I felt kept from it."

"Oh?"

"It was about one of the first things you said to me a few months ago. You told me 'All I want from you is to believe in your worth, and to be silent.' It has, not exactly bothered me, but made me very curious, and even concerned. Is it something... you can explain to me now?"

Andrei frowned and said nothing for a while. He thought deeply for some moments before speaking.

"I did have a purpose in saying what I said. But I now know the offense it probably caused. Forgive me."

"But would you explain it?"

"I can..."

Nadia waited for him to continue, but still he hesitated.

"Nadia... it was something shameful that I said that to you for. I said it because... you knew nothing. I was looking for a person who would work for me, who would know nothing, and would thus do nothing. No matter your skill. I was actually... terrified that a spy would apply for me, and work for me only to... sabotage everything I worked for."

"You mean... steal?"

"Yes. As you have already witnessed yourself unfortunately. There are others out there that hate me to death. And although it was because of my past arrogance, it was also envy. Yes, monstrous envy. With Maxim... his envy rotted him to the bones..."

Nadia pondered this for a moment.

"That's not shameful. That's wise. It was right to protect yourself. But... I guess I should have known."

"Yes, you should have. Thus, I proved to be cruel to you, taking advantage of you..."

Nadia could tell this was really paining Andrei to speak of it.

"Please... don't dwell on the past. For me. I forgive you of it all, if you feel responsible."

Andrei rubbed his face, but didn't respond again for a while.

"Nadia..."

"Yes?"

Again silence.

Nadia peered at Andrei and tried to use as much intuition as she could. She had to know what he was thinking.

"Nadia... are you able to... I mean... will you come back here?"

"To work? Of course, I'll always work for you."

"But... not just for that..."

Another silence proceeded.

Suddenly, Nadia got his gist. She froze.

Carefully choosing her next words, she spoke up.

"Yes. I will come back."

Andrei's face lit up, but he did not smile.

"Will you come tomorrow night, at... 8 maybe," he said quickly.

"Yes. Yes I will."

Suddenly, he sighed very deeply.

"I'm so sorry. I just..."

"Feel unworthy?"

He could not respond.

"...Andrei, you're not unworthy to me... or of me..." suddenly perceiving where her words were taking her, Nadia quickly got up, and began walking to the door nervously.

"No! Not yet! Just not yet!" she pleaded to herself in her mind. "Let it be... until tomorrow."

"Good-bye," Andrei said behind her.

"Good-night," Nadia replied.

She went out the door.
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