Alright, here's my first shot at a short story here. So, more than ever, I'd like to encourage any and all feedback and criticism. Seriously, you aren't being mean if you criticize, I really appreciate it.
I came up with the concept for this short story at about ten o' clock the night before my first final exam for this trimester, so I had to wait two days to write it. I was thinking about the weird names of rooms in The World that Never Was, and I decided that I'd write a story about how Demyx relates to the Hall of Empty Melodies (after all, he is the Melodious Nocturne). But I later decided that the storyline I created was too emo for Demyx, and I'd need another character to take on the role of main character. But Demyx is still an important character, so I guess I accomplished my goal. Enjoy!
The Hall of Empty Melodies
Saix generally did not enjoy listening to the sound of Demyx playing his large blue sitar during work hours. While the mullet-headed boy's playing was usually nothing more than a distracting nuisance, it occasionally bordered on unbearable, which often prompted a swift scolding from the agitated, blue-haired Nobody. Even though he was the ninth, and newest, member of the Organization, Demyx became almost immediately aware of the effect that his music had on Saix. After all, despite the fact that Saix was only Number VII in the Organization, he was generally accepted as the second-in-command of the group, so he wielded almost unrivaled power over the newer members.
After a brief period of being unable to play his instrument at all, Number IX found a rather simple solution: he could play wherever he liked, so long as Saix was not awake at the time. After he devised his plan, Saix noticed that Demyx awoke almost exactly two hours earlier than he did every day, and played in one of the lower halls until the rest of the Organization gathered in their meeting room.
So as Saix strolled down a large outdoor walkway in the middle of a particularly dreary day, he had much more pressing matters to attend to than the quiet plucking of sitar strings inside the castle. At first he didn't even notice the soft sound, as it was effectively muffled by the soft beating of rain on the steel walls of the castle beside him.
However, as he entered the castle, dripping wet from the rain, the sound became much more apparent, and caught the attention of the Nobody's sharply pointed ears. At first Saix was slightly maddened, because Demyx knew better than anyone what he thought of playing music during the Organization's operating hours. But as he strode towards the hall that he determined was the the source of the music, he found that the tune was rather pleasant, and even seemed a bit calming.
So rather than bursting into the large hall red-faced and shouting, as he typically did when he caught Demyx with his sitar, Saix nudged the door open quietly and stood just inside the door frame to listen a bit more. The doorway opened onto an expansive balcony, which overlooked a large, glass-roofed room below, whose floor was made up of a rectangular blue platform surrounded by a deep pit. Demyx stood in the middle of the platform, sitar in hand, reading a piece of sheet music on a tall plastic music stand while madly plucking away at the instrument's three strings. The gentle tune emitting from his sitar was even more soothing up close, and quickly alleviated the stress Saix had felt after receiving the Superior's latest set of orders.
But as Saix stood and listened, still unnoticed by the performer below, he realized that the music seemed oddly familiar. He knew for a fact that he had never heard the melody before, but he recognized the style of the piece, the soft precision of the notes. As Saix thought about it more and more, he found that he recognized the style as his own, from when he had played piano as a human boy. It seemed like an eternity ago that he had been a normal human, with his own heart and emotions. And it had been years before that when he had last touched a piano. How long ago had it been since he lost his heart to the darkness? He didn't know; he had lost track of his time as a Nobody months ago. The Organization was his life now, and the past didn't matter.
Suddenly, the music below stopped, drawing Saix out of his thoughts. On the platform below, Number IX, still unaware that he was being watched, set down his tall sitar and summoned a corridor of darkness several feet away. The boy immediately disappeared into the dark portal, leaving Saix to stare at the now lonesome music stand and instrument in the center of the hall.
A strange feeling welled up in the Nobody as he stared at the perfectly polished blue flooring. He wished he could feel the cold ebony keys of his grand piano again, that he could play whenever he liked, and that he could return to his home in Radiant Garden.
“No,” Saix mumbled aloud. He did not have a heart, so he couldn't have feelings, and certainly not feelings of homesickness. They were a trick of his memories, and he should ignore them. After all, feelings just got in the way; people were much better off without them. That was the goal of the Organization, was it not: to find a way to conquer the heart.
But even as he tried to think logically, a strange sensation seemed to guide Saix through a corridor of darkness to the platform below, and over to the sitar. For no real reason, he gripped the neck of the instrument, and lifted it into playing position. Still expressionless, and slightly confused as to why he was holding Demyx's sitar, Saix plucked the thickest string. A deep note echoed off the steel walls of the room, which Saix quickly identified as a C natural.
Suddenly remembering his favorite song to play on piano, Saix began experimenting with the different notes on the sitar, trying to find the location of the notes he'd need to play it.
Even though it had been many years, he could still remember when he had first heard the song. He was on the streets of his home world, Radiant Garden, and was wandering the large shopping district on the south side of the town. The source of the song was a small, open-fronted restaurant crammed between two large accessory shops. The music captivated Saix – then named Isa – who found that it was being played by a skinny, tuxedoed man seated at an electric keyboard out front of the restaurant. The man had long shaggy hair and a scruffy beard, and was wearing a black pair of sunglasses as he played. If he had not been wearing the tuxedo, Isa would have assumed that he was poor or homeless. But the music coming from his keyboard was more beautiful than anything Isa had ever heard. He couldn't help but listen until the end of the song, even though he was forced to press up against the wall of the shop next-door in order to avoid other shoppers.
After the man finished, he continued on to other songs, so Isa stayed for what seemed like hours afterward, hoping to hear the first song again. But the pianist went the rest of the day without repeating it.
Still entranced by the music he had heard, Isa made a habit of stopping by the restaurant every day after school with a recorder handy to tape the song if it was played. It was a week before Isa heard the song again. He immediately taped it and took it home, excited to try playing the song himself. Like all high school students, he had been taught how to play piano in music class, but until then he had never put any effort into playing outside of school. For the rest of the week, he sat beside his family's grand piano, transcribing the piece.
Saix grinned as he slid his hand along the strings, the first notes coming to his memory quickly. B flat, D, C, G, and then D. He found all four notes on the sitar and played them in order. While it sounded much different than on piano, he recognized the melody immediately. He could never forget the notes that he had spent so many hours practicing as a boy. He remembered how he would coop himself up in his room with a plastic keyboard for entire nights, memorizing every note of the piece. He had to make it perfect: every pitch, every harmony, and every chord.
Finally, after three months of practice, Isa finished memorizing the song. Ready to demonstrate his work, he took it to the only person who would recognize it: the man at the restaurant. When Isa explained how he had copied and practiced the music, the man immediately offered his piano bench to the boy. Isa took the seat and, after warming up with a few scales, began the piece. The melody began quietly, and Isa suddenly felt the pressure of performance. He stuttered for a second, but then continued, pushing through the memorized notes. All the eyes of the customers in the restaurant were on him. He had no choice now but to play. Then, ten measures in, all Isa's worries suddenly melted away. The familiar feel of the keys urged him onward, and the critical eyes of the customers in the restaurant kept him focused. The notes came easier and easier; he was playing flawlessly. How many measures did he have left? He didn't know. He just kept playing, letting his muscles guide him. This was what he had been training for months for, and his body was ready to take over when his mind failed. The sound of his playing echoed off all the walls of the restaurant, and the entire room became silent. The onlookers gazed in curiosity at the young boy who had suddenly begun playing, as his fingers flew over the keyboard.
And then the song was done.
Isa leaned back and took his hands off the keybaord, suddenly breathing very heavily. As he glanced at his shirt, he noticed that he had been sweating profusely when he played. As he caught his breath, he turned and looked to the restaurant's pianist for evaluation.
“Not bad,” the man said quietly, scratching his beard.
Isa just stared at him in confusion. 'Not bad?' Just 'Not bad?' What could possibly have been wrong with it? He had hit every note, nailed every chord; his performance was perfect!
“You just...” the man started, pulling off his sunglasses and revealing his sparkling blue eyes, “...you need to put your heart into the music, kid. You looked like a statue when you played. You gotta put some emotion in it. Otherwise the notes sound empty. Try and jazz it up a bit. Give the people a show, you know.”
Isa still stared blankly at the man's eyes. Put heart into the song? What was that supposed to mean? He had played every note right, so what else was there? There was no direction in the music that said 'insert heart' or 'give the audience a show.' There were notes, and he had played them all correctly. Was he supposed to play a few notes badly? Was that what the man meant?
“But, yeah, it was pretty good,” the man said, nodding his approval.
Isa stood slowly from the chair, still not uttering a word, as the pianist returned to his seat and began playing again. Wondering why he had even bothered to play the song in the first place, Isa left the square and headed for home.
That was the last time he had ever played piano.
“G, A, C flat,” Saix caught himself saying aloud. He stopped plucking the sitar's strings, noticing that he was no longer alone in the hall. Demyx stood behind him, clapping quietly. A silly grin was plastered across the boy's pale face, and he seemed to have been rocking back and forth to the music.
“Wow, I never knew you played sitar,” Demyx said pleasantly. “That was pretty good!”
Saix turned slowly toward the younger Nobody and gazed down at the sitar in his own hands. It was so simple now, understanding what the man meant all those years ago. Saix recognized the irony in the situation; he only understood how to use his heart now, when he no longer had it. But why had he started to play the sitar in the first place? What good would it do him now?
“I no longer have a heart to put into the music,” Saix said coldly, shoving the instrument roughly into Demyx's hands and striding quickly towards the door. Demyx remained where he was, watching in confusion as the elder Nobody stopped and gazed up through the glass ceiling to a small crescent moon in the sky. “Until I do, it's nothing but an empty melody.”
So there it is. I crafted the entire story around the last sentence, so that was another new experience for me. I also spent a ton of time thinking about what KH song Isa should play, and I finally came to a conclusion half way through writing the story. The notes he says out loud are the actual first notes of the only online sheet music for the piece that I could find. I decided not to say the name of the song in the story, because I don't think it's very important to the plot, and I think everybody has their own opinion of what the song should be. In my opinion, there are at least three other songs that would have fit this story. I'd love to hear what you guys think the song should be. If I hear enough people who think a different song is deserving, I may change the notes.