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Huilunsoittaja

Anton: Chapter 25, Part II

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It was early February when he was in his room staring up at the ceiling, when he heard a knock on the door.
"Who's there?"
"It's me, Sergei Ivanovich. I want to see you."
"Come in," Anton still stared at the ceiling.
Sergei Ivanovich wasn't alone. Sergei Vasilievich, Anton's colleague who he played piano duos with, and also Sasha and Anatol Konstantinovich were all there. All of them looked very grave but also very alarmed.
Anton's room was small but very disheveled. It was clean, but disorderly. He had dozens of books around him in stacks on tables and shelves, and 4 wine empty wine bottles around him. Anton happened to be not very drunk at this time, but the multitude of tuberculosis, brain fever, and alcohol reduced him now to insanity.
Anatol turned to them with a wry smile.
"Yes, my friends, my friends of life."
"How have you been, Anton?"
"Wonderfully terrible."
"What do they say about your health now?"
"They aren't sure, but not long. I will not see the spring. The dream of spring..."
The exchanged worried glances at each other.
"I'm sorry," Sergei Ivanovich continued gravely. "I hope you would have taken better care of yourself. No one can force you, but... maybe I would have. Yes, I would have!" he suddenly added with a lot of feeling. "You've been destroying yourself for years! Why have you done this? To please yourself? Was it some sort of pity-mongering? Believe me Anton, I did pity you greatly you... we all... pitied you greatly." Everyone nodded their heads.
"Pity?" Anton sat up in his bed. He had been having a great fever, and he was shivering quite pitifully. "I... I didn't want that..."
"You wanted no one to care for you? No friendship? You forgot about us?"
Anton said nothing.
Sergei Ivanovich came up closer to him and sat in a chair directly next to him.
"Then I will ask just one more question of you Anton. Are you happy?"
Anton stared hard at the ceiling for a long time, and then spoke.

Don’t ask me why, alone in dismal thought,
In times of mirth, I’m often filled with strife,
And why my weary stare is so distraught,
And why I don’t enjoy the dream of life;

Don’t ask me why my happiness has perished,
Why I don’t love the love that pleased me then,
No longer can I call someone my cherished--
Who once felt love will never love again;

Who once felt bliss, no more will feel its essence,
A moment’s happiness is all that we receive:
From youth, prosperity and joyful pleasantry,
All that is left is apathy and grief...


A chill went through everyone in the room when Anton said these words. It was certainly a beg for death.
"Why do you speak in poems?" Sergei Vasilievich spoke up. He seemed the most distraught of the group, namely because he knew everything Anton was quoting.
"Only the poet can express one's pain at its deepest. I am a poet, a poet of music, who simply appreciates another."
"So are we all. But we won't destroy ourselves over it," Sergei Ivanovich pointed out gently.
Anton began breathing hard again, which was causing him to cough. He grit his teeth for the pain, and laid back again.
Sasha began to plead with Anton. "We care about you Anton, we really do. Everyone in both Conservatories has been fully aware of your condition. Many of your former students have asked us all the latest news, and Nikolai Andreyevich is extremely concerned."
Anton shut his eyes tightly.
"I wish it were true."
"But of course it is true! There are people who sincerely care about you! Do you think we don't?" Sasha was almost hurt.
"But you all don't see..."
"See what?" Sergei Vasilievich asked.
"This isn't real...

Not long ago, in a charming dream,
I saw myself -- a king with crown's treasure;
I was in love with you, it seemed,
And heart was beating with a pleasure.
I sang my passion's song by your enchanting knees.
Why, dreams, you didn't prolong my happiness forever?
But gods deprived me not of whole their favor:
I only lost the kingdom of my dreams.
"


Anton shut his eyes while he said this, his face showing abject misery.
"I've lost! I own up! I've lost everything! But one only loses within dreams! So I will win! I will win in reality!! This isn't real, this isn't real!! I've lost this nightmare, but I've not lost my chance for happiness! I have only to awake, and all will be well!" He began coughing again because he was speaking and breathing so fast.
"I can't believe it! I can't believe this is real!" he was moaning with such emotion, that Sergei tried to put his arm on his shoulder, but Anton took it off.
"Noooo noooo it can't be true!" he moaned on.
"What are you talking about??" Sergei said in alarm.
No longer can I call someone my cherished--
Who once felt love will never love me again;

It can't be!" Anton yelled suddenly. He went into another coughing episode. Only Sergei Ivanovich was aware now of who Anton was speaking of.
"Oh dearest Anton, you can't possibly..." Sergei stared at him stunned, and sighed in despair. "Oh Anton... you should have really let go! You can't control life, you can only accept it! It's all Fate."
This made Anton sit up immediately.
"Fate!" he cried, his eyes ablaze. "Fate! NOW I know what's wrong with you all! You don't understand how absurd life really is! There is no such thing as Fate! We work and scratch in hope of making our dreams come true, only to discover it ALWAYS collapses with a great crash! And why does it? Fate is far too calculating. That's the problem with you guys! Life isn't a tragedy! It's ABSURD! Hahaha yes I LAUGH at all of you for your failures and absurdities, laugh with me all of you! My life and your life, it's all the same! We dream the nightmare of life, and then we perish! Hahahaha!"
Anton's laugh which bordered on the hysterical switched to pathetic weeping and coughing at the same time.
He put his face in his hands and wept harder than he ever had in his life.
"I want death! Death!" he cried over and over.
Sergei Ivanovich embraced him, and the others crowded around him to comfort him. But Sergei Vasilievich, tears coming to his own eyes, could no longer take it. He walked out.
"Seryozha! Don't live my life!" he heard Anton cry from his room, and Sergei Vasilievich began to weep as he walked down the hall.
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