What are you?
A question I was asked once. I remember it entirely. I had been waiting for the night somewhere in the desert next to a small road, waiting for the absence of vibration, for the less chaotic darkness and the glow of the moon to illuminate my reflective body. It’s the way I like to play my music, in secret, in silence of both sound and light, and as I stood there waiting I saw a trail of dust heading towards me on that dirt road.
It was a vehicle with three people inside: a man, a woman, and a child. The man asked me if I needed help and I said no. The woman watched me with disgust and I watched her face turn from tired to afraid. The child simply stared at me and after the man was done talking and a few other moments had passed he asked me.
What are you?
The family of three left my side before I could answer the child’s question, but it stayed with me.
What are you?
It was a valid question. To him, a poor boy from a small town out in the desert, I must have looked alien. A tall man made of metal, a face with blue glowing eyes, a synthetic voice that could be heard across the world, standing alone in the desert at dusk. If I had seen myself as I am today one hundred years earlier I wouldn’t have said I was human. So what am I?
A man who left his humanity behind, a man who wanted more, a man who wanted music. I remember the time before this. I had feelings of despair, anger, sadness, feelings of powerlessness. I knew I was going to die and I wasn’t going to finish my masterpiece. The work I had done for many years would all go to waste with my timely death, but those feeling are gone now. I will live forever, unlike the the child who asked me this question, I will live until the Sun dies and the Earth burns. I will live until the stars stop shining and the galaxy stops spinning, and with me the memory of that young child will see the aftermath of the universe.
I waited three more hours after the child had asked me the question to start my work under the pale light of the night. I opened my arms and released the signal my children had been waiting for. The mountains roared and cracked open revealing them, my instruments, my children. The ground shook in anticipation and the sky cried with the sound of thunder. I lifted my arm and with that, in unison, my masterpiece began to echo through the valleys of that long forgotten world. The music of the Earth by the man who came from its grounds, by the man who transcended humanity…
I had transformed a desert into a living orchestra. I had turned sand to sound and the heat to rhythm, but there was much to be done. The Earth was a large place, but an infinitesimal fraction of the universe. The stars shined down, asking me to help them too, they had grown bored of the silence in their orbits around the milky way, and I would help them, all of them.
So what am I? I am no longer human and I am not a man. I am one with music. I am forever. I am the Ever-Musician.
This story is related to: The Interstellar Orchestra