20: The Music of Lemons

Sarah Hymas submitted this chapter. Sh was pleased. Sarah is a poet, puppeteer, performer and is currently considering other activities beginning with Pee. More Sarah here and here.

Rosalyn has discovered that if she rubs the petrified lemon against the red leather gloves in her collection it gives off a low-level, slightly sharp, hum, an octave lower than her comfort pitch. She can’t help but join in. Hmmmm. She hasn’t quite hit the right note, but it doesn’t matter because it’s a rather lovely minor chord. She slips the left glove on for better leverage. It sounds better if she doesn’t look, or think too much.

So she stares at the observation monitor and rubs and hums in time with Linda tapping her clipboard. This is not satisfactory. Linda does not have good rhythm. Linda has the rhythm of a fly in a cobweb.

What Rosalyn needs is a third note to make the sound better. But since she’s using both hands and her voice already, she’s unsure what she might do. And the more she thinks about that, the more her voice wavers off the lemon minor. Although this isn’t so bad.

The sound now reminds her of a picture from the Hubble telescope, of Omega Centuri. She images the cluster glittering in her ribcage as she pings and hisses against the rub of leathery lemon, and realises what she needs is not another note but a bigger sound.

The LED lights blink in agreement.

The old books are absorbing her music like moss does light. She paces up and down past the shelves, hearing how when she passes bare metal the lemon becomes more limey. This isn’t satisfactory either. And has the added effect of reminding of her Linda again.

She rubs the lemon more vigorously, so it chafes her palm through the glove. If she judders while she does it, she can create a new, slightly more resonant effect which she likes. Still not loud enough.

Rosalyn suddenly has a flash of The Boss hearing her music right at the top of the building, and joining in with her, like Pavarotti without the beard. She wouldn’t be able to resist. In fact no one who hears her could resist. She is the Siren of the Basement. She flicks her hair, feels the green ribbon slide against her neck. Her larynx opens.

She presses her back against the end of some shelves, judders, and lets the cold metal fill her lungs, push her diaphragm down further than she felt possible. She is not singing Omega Centuri now, or the rings of Saturn or anything she’s ever seen. She is calling the shelves of the building, the screws in the shelves of the building to join her. This is why she got this job.

No comments: