The Glass Case

   There’s a girl sitting at a piano playing Mozart. There’s nothing really intricate about it—other than her actual playing, which some would say rivals that of the masters—but there’s something about it that makes it magical. Be it the way her fingers flush or her head sways, there’s something that makes everyone want to watch.
   They say that making yourself a public spectacle is begging for attention.
   For others, it’s an act of passage that is always meant to be fulfilled.
   The crowd stands silently as the lights above flicker, then dim. Cast from an array of fixtures that resembles the shape of a star, the lights first rotate, positioning themselves on the pianist, then expand, creating the shape of a star. That night, some would have begged to question whether or not the six-pointed star was meant to resemble David instead of its traditional, five-pointed sister, a geometrical symbol lacking two triangles. However, it soon didn’t matter, as when the lights dimmed above and those surrounding the floor came on, everyone’s thoughts ceased to exist and their whispers drowned to silence.
   Seated at the foot of the piano, the pianist raised her head.  
   A bloodied bandage covered her eyes.
   Normally, one would have expected the audience to gasp, for it is in human nature to be compassionate toward another. Tonight, though, no one spoke a word, nor thought a bit of ill will toward the organizers of this event. It was all the same.
   It was all the same.
   Raising her hands, the pianist spread her fingers, each flushing accordingly as though pulled by the drawstrings of some greater being. Then she began to play.
   Each point in the David’s Star brightened.
   The pianist came fully into view.
   No one said a word as she continued to play.
   Every night for the past forty years, people would flock to the stadium to see the girl play. She was never let out, she was never set free, nor was she ever given the chance to speak—her mouth had been sewn shut ages before, when they first learned she was something more than just a woman. About this time, they removed her eyes and affixed her to a bench, the very one she sat upon now. Along with this, they stripped her of her false femininity and garbed her in a dress of bandages. Always she bled, because they said she was something more than human, but never once did she cry of scream.
   Her mouth was sewn shut.
   Her eyes were no longer there.
   Trapped inside the shell of herself, she could do nothing more than play.
   As she progressed halfway through the score, the air chilling and the sky darkening past its usual tone of white, the audience lost their breath and soon began to drown. As happened every night, men in black suits and oxygen masks came forward and allowed each patron a mask of their own. Once adorned, they continued to watch, eyes weeping and lips pursed.
   A child bit her lip.
   A woman trembled.
   A baby stopped breathing and was forever lost to the world.
   Raising her head, the pianist stopped playing.
   Frozen, her joints popped and the veins in her pale body pulsed, but not once did she tremble past that.
   Shortly thereafter, she began to play as though her very life depended on it. Her fingers thrashed, her shoulders lunged forward, her back arched and her neck snapped up and down as though repeatedly hit with a hammer. Her hips rocked to the tune of her body’s frantic movements, but her legs did not move—they simply dangled there, swaying in a wind that didn’t exist.
   Someone in the audience gasped. His hands lashed forward and wrapped around his neck and began to squeeze as hard as he could. Meanwhile, his mouth dropped open and his oxygen mask fogged with breath. Throughout all this, he continued to watch, his eyes remaining open until he choked himself to death.
   The pianist began to slow.
   Hands trembling, elbows falling, she bowed her head.
   She hit three more keys.
   Do, Re, Mi.
   The lights dimmed.
   A curtain fell from the ceiling.
   The audience began to clap as a glass case was briefly illuminated before disappearing behind a dark veil.
   One by one, they began to file out.
   Those unfortunate remained behind, forever lost to the girl inside the glass case.

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