fingers

Her fingers called her in the middle of the night. The telephone rang – it woke her – and she sat up, blinded by darkness, and reached out her hand for the receiver. Pressed it, cold against her ear. It was them, her fingers. They played Beethoven to her.

It happened every night. In the morning, she looked at her hands and counted the digits and wondered how her fingers could be living this double life. Sometimes she sat down at the piano in the TV lounge and placed her fingers on the keys, but nothing came of that. Only plink plink plink crash, and the shooting pains that went from her fingertips all the way up through her arms, to her heart. Then she would take as many of the prescription painkillers as she dared, laying them out in ranks on her bedside table. One for sorrow, two for joy… a third and a fourth… and then her hands would be completely numb and useless.

Beethoven. It was always Beethoven. She had used to like Philip Glass, but her fingers liked to play the Moonlight Sonata. She knew they were her fingers, because they stumbled in just the places she always had. There was that terrible third. She remembered the sharp rap of her teacher’s voice: Adagio! Adagio! At least that was all over now.

But was it over? Why did her fingers telephone every night? Were they trying to tell her something, and if so, what was it? Sometimes she whispered into the receiver: if you can hear me, tell me what it is you want. But her fingers just carried on playing, on and on, until she either put down the phone or fell back to sleep listening to the music.

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