We waited until the auditorium was empty, then I wheeled him out, down to the car park in the lift, loaded Will up without incident. I didn’t say much; my head was still ringing with the music, and I didn’t want it to fade/ I kept thinking back to it, the way that Will’s friend had been so lost in what he was playing. I hadn’t realized that music could unlock things in you, could transport you to somewhere even the composer hadn’t predicted. It left an imprint in the air around you, as if you carried its remnants with you when you went. For some time, as we sat there in the audience, I had completely forgotten Will was even beside me.
We pulled up outside the annex. In front of us, just visible above the wall, the castle sat, floodlit under the full moon , gazing serenely down from its position on the top of the hill.
“So you’re not a classical music person.”
I looked into the rearview mirror. Will was smiling.
“I didn’t enjoy that in the slightest.”
“I could tell.”
“I especially didn’t enjoy that bit near the end, the bit where the violin was singing by itself.”
“I could see you didn’t like that bit. In fact, I think you had tears in your eyes you hated it so much.”
I grinned back at him. “I really loved it,” I said. “I`m not sure I`d like all classical music, but I thought that was amazing.” I rubbed my nose. “Thank you. Thank you for taking me.”
We sat in silence, gazing at the castle. Normally, at night, it was bathed in a kind of orange glow from the lights dotted around the fortress wall. But tonight, under a full moon, it seemed flooded in an ethereal blue.
“What kind of music would they have played there, do you think?” I said. “They must have listened to something.”
“The castle? Medieval stuff. Lutes, strings. Not my cup of tea, but I`ve got some I can lend you, if you like. You should walk around the castle with it on earphones, if you really want the full experience.”
“Nah. I don’t really go to the castle.”
“It’s always the way, when you live close by somewhere.”
We sat there a moment longer, listening to the engine tick its way to silence.
“Right,” I said, unfastening my belt. “We’d better get you in. The evening routine awaits.”
“Just wait a minute, Clark.”
I turned in my seat. Will’s face was in shadow and I couldn’t quite make it out.
“Just hold on. Just for a minute.”
“Are you alright?” I found my gaze dropping toward his chair, afraid some part of him was pinched, trapped, that I had gotten something wrong.
“I`m fine. I just…”
I could see his pale collar, his dark suit jacket a contrast against it.
“I don’t want to go in just yet. I just want to sit and not have to think about…”He swallowed.
Even in the half-dark it seemed effortful.
“I just…want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.”
I released the door handle.
I closed my eyes and lay my head against the headrest, and we sat there together for a while longer, two people lost in remembered music, half hidden in the shadow of a castle on a moonlit hill.
- Page 158-159
Me before you by Jojo Moyes.