My sister told me that the tufts of dandelion floating around in our garden were tiny fairies traveling between this world and another, and that our garden was a kind of Grand Central Station for all the magical creatures in all the universes like the Wood Between the Worlds in the Narnia books. I wasn’t particularly amenable to this idea because I didn’t like the thought of little people pirouetting into my ears while I was asleep, but I loved my sister, so I never said as much. My parents named my sister Anne, although she claimed her real name was Elisandra and that a celestial voice had told her this when she was a baby. Anne had braces; Elisandra was a sorceress. But they both played the piano.

I frequently sat with my sister in the garden, where she would softly sing the piece she was currently learning while tapping away messages I could never understand into the crumbling soil just beyond the edge of the veranda. Wherever she tapped, it seemed a flower grew the next day.

In the early days, when the knowledge that I would fall only strengthened my desire to try and get off the ground, there was Clair de Lune. I wasn’t allowed outside back then, so we would pretend that the window to the garden was a film, and the plinking of the piano was the soundtrack. From this time on, the birds and insects and trees in the garden became indistinguishable from my sister’s music; her sounds made up the difference between my diminished reality and the beautiful apparitions just beyond the glass panes.

After my condition improved, I was able to venture into the garden. My sister inaugurated this introduction to unfiltered divinity with Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I lay on the grass as she played, swathed for the first time in beatitude rather than sterile linen, convinced that I was the point of convergence for heaven, earth, and all other honey-colored things. Later, I laid my head in her lap and looked up at her pale face as she tapped one of her messages into my trembling legs. I stood up and sang along with her as loudly as I could.

Then my sister became sick with something that she had caught from me and wouldn’t stop playing Chopin’s funeral march. Our father yelled at her for being morbid, and at me for trying to kill my sister. No one took care of the garden during my sister’s illness, and as the birds left and the dandelions disappeared, and my sister spent more and more time in her room, I realized for the first time that she was probably not a sorceress.

Anne’s last performance before she died was for me, on the veranda, using just her fingers. She played Prokofiev’s first piano concerto. I finally asked her what message she was always sending. Without stopping her singing, she wrote something down on the music and handed it to me. I want whatever is rumbling inside to escape and drown me, devour me, or inflict upon me whatever manner of violent transformation it desires, so long as it’s the final one. I didn’t like the sound of this, but I loved my sister, so I didn’t say as much.

Naveen Rajan is originally from Austin, Texas. He writes a substack, to no one’s benefit and everyone’s chagrin.

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