Robert Aquino Dollesin
The music box’s lid opens and through the faint light that spills over me I see Jaslene, standing in front of me with her eyes closed, breathing in the box’s mahogany fragrance. But her breaths are not breaths of joy. They are breaths of sadness.
The notes of Enya’s Fairytale begin to play. Balanced on one foot, I begin to dance, to spin with the same slow grace of pine tips blowing in the wind. I am frozen in an arabesque pose and my free flowing blue taffeta dress reflects back from the oval mirror, which fills the inside of the music box’s lid.
Jaslene sits on the stool in front of her desk and for a moment gazes at me, her green eyes drowning in pain and heartbreak. Then she slumps forward, laying her head on the desk and begins to cry in the middle of the afternoon.
The melody, soft and small and sweet, continues, and gradually mounts into an orchestral rainbow. I continue to dance.
Opening her eyes, staring past me, staring at her own glassy-eyed reflection in the mirror, Jaslene drags out a single word, whispers -- Fairytale.
Round and round and round and round. I continue to turn in time with the music.
She leans forward to pinch one of the music box’s tiny pearl handles. A drawer slides out, and from the red velvet lining, Jaslene removes the gold band Rod had given her on the day before he departed, several months earlier. In the dim light the gold band still gleams when Jaslene turns it between her fingers.
In time with the lovely music the round, abalone base beneath my toe-curled foot revolves, circling the inside of the box while I continue to twirl.
“Fairytale,” Jaslene says again. She curls her fingers around the gold band and brings her fisted hand to her lips. The soft notes fill the room, and I dance. I always dance.
Jaslene slides off the stool, runs the fingers of her free hand through her black her, and then she makes her way to the rain-beaded window. Each time the glass she stares out of clouds up, Jaslene raises a palm to squeak the window clear.
I dance, a hundred or more revolutions take place in the time Jaslene stands staring out the window at the gray grainy sky.
“The music,” Jaslene had said when Rod had given her the music box. “I know this music.”
Rod laughed. “It’s from Harry Potter. Remember? You cried when you first heard it.”
Her eyes had glazed up then. “We were just kids,” she’d said. “How can you remember such silly things?” She had reached forward to brush an imaginary fleck of lint from the shoulder of Rod’s crisp khaki uniform.
Rod had smiled, replying “Every moment spent with you is memorable.” Then his arm had moved around her waist, his palm settling in the small of her back. He added softly, sincerely, “The music is as sensitive and beautiful as you are.”
Using his one free hand to pat his shirt pockets, Rod smiled, dug out the gold band and slipped it into Jaslene’s hand. She clutched the ring and closed her eyes. When she opened her eyes again, Jaslene stared directly at me, her expression joyful as I danced, whirling to the music of a fairytale.
“Everything’s perfect,” Jaslene had said. “Just like a Fairytale.”
Rod had nodded. “Just like a Fairytale.”
Now, Jaslene turns from the window. I continue to dance -- round and round and round and round. Clutching her gold band, Jaslene moves to the bed and sits on the edge with her hands in her lap. A moment later she reaches for Rod’s photograph on the nightstand, traces his grinning image with a fingertip.
Her sobs mount. I continue to whirl. She draws Rod’s picture close against her, and then she collapses on the bed.
In her grief, I can do nothing more than dance, spin round and round and round in the soft light, turning to the tender notes of a fairytale.
BIO: ROBERT AQUINO DOLLESIN says he was still a kid when he left the Philippines. He now resides in California, where he writes, works, writes and works. Some of his recent short fiction can be found at Storyglossia, Pequin, Nossa Morte, and Big Stupid Review.
MOTIVATION: "Hearing the song 'Fairytale' by Enya..."