Music is a Friend of Mine (Shortened Version)

Music is a friend of mine. I met him long ago when I was still fresh and innocent, had not a care in the world, and was incredibly stupid. We were more acquaintances than pals, and when I passed him I would nod politely, shake his hand, and continue with my day. Our relationship was somewhat professional, as I didn’t care for his games. I wanted to do great things, and I couldn’t see how he could help me. Therefore, I would stick to my life, and he would stick to his.
It was not unpopular for my friends and peers to talk about him. He loved telling stories. True stories, made-up stories, fables or tales, it didn’t matter. He would create such vibrant and meticulously crafted images that one couldn’t help themselves believing they were in a distant world, where only wonder and joy were allowed.
He had a dark side. I was afraid of him at times, when his voice was cold and calculating, striking chords that gave me chills and seething with more malice than I could ever dream up. Other times, he was kind and gentle, and people would laugh with him for the sake of laughter. He danced, jumping and falling, skipping and twirling, rocking and flying. He would even call out to me, requesting that I come and join him in his silly dances. I refused, never seeing the point of acting like a fool for him.
After a few years, however, I found myself crushing on him. Hard. I never admitted it. I could not bear the thought of someone knowing that I am just as foolish as all the other girls who fell under his spell. I was envious of those who understood him better. He would come by sometimes and I felt my heart pounding. I started to hang out with him more and more. He was cute. Really cute. I would stare at him and quickly look away when I suspected someone was around. He sang songs nonstop, and although he made up the words as he went I found I knew him well enough to mumble along. Eventually, we became good friends. It was not enough for me.
I now find myself on a beautiful summer day, standing outside his door. I know countless people come in and out of this door, partying and getting drunk and whatnot. I myself only look through the window, despite all the times I am invited. The scent of a freshly cut lawn sits in the heat, and sweat bees buzz lazily around a patch of flowers. My mouth is dry and my knees are shaky. I take a deep breath and raise my fist to knock, but before I could hit the door it opens and I am pulled inside. I almost scream, but he hushes me and points outside. I turn to see a scary-looking cloud quickly approaching that I did not notice before.
“You should have come sooner.”
I turn and see his face beaming with excitement. Before I can get a word out he pulls my arm into the most bizarre living room I have seen in my life. Basic wooden furniture makes up a small part of the large room, but the rest is devoted to decorations and displays of various kinds. The walls are covered with blurry black-and-white family photos and framed circular devices with a thin spiral etched into them. Nevertheless, something else catches my attention. One wall is entirely devoted to strange looking objects with labels. Some are made of an assortment of metals, while others are wooden and curvy. A few look like bowls with a layer of plastic stretched over the top.
I stare in bewilderment. “What are those? I have never seen anything like it.”
He grins. “Well, every time someone comes to my home I ask them to make me something. Some will give me something small, like a letter, while others create a grand story for me.”
He slides his hand over one of the objects. “Few decide to make me these. These are my prized possessions.”
“What are they?”
“I call them instruments.”
He picks up a brass “instrument” that has something looking like a cone attached to a long tube with three buttons on top labeled Trumpet. He put the end of the tube to his lips and blew. A full-sounding noise erupted from the cone loudly.
“All these instruments create a unique and interesting sound. They usually can change pitch, but some—” he points to the bowls, “are mainly used for beats.”
He turns to me. “Would you like to try one?”
“You trust me to touch your prized possessions?”
He shrugs. “If not you, who will?”
I nervously glance at the large array of instruments. I go over to a wooden one. It is four feet of delicately carved wood. The instrument has two f-shaped holes on either side of a strip of wood extending beyond the large body. A metal stick protrudes from the bottom. Four strings from thick to thin are tightly attached up and down from the strip of wood to a plastic piece near the base of the body. It smells like maple and is smooth and clean. A stick near it that I assume is part of the set is long with countless fibers running from one end to the other, bending slightly. I check the label: Cello.
“This one is amazing!”
“It is! You might want to start with something smaller, though.”
He hands what looks like a very small version of what I chose to me. It is labeled Violin. He holds the instrument up to his face, points it sideways, and slides the fibers of the stick on one string. As he does this, he moves his fingers over the wires. Different pitched sounds flow from the body. It is a stream of notes and rhythm, echoing around the large interior of his house and vibrating my very being. I close my eyes and feel a wave of emotion force its way inside me, lighting a spark within me I have never known was there. I felt a connection to the sound. I feel what it tells me to feel. I sympathize with it, laugh with it, dance with it. When I try it, it only squeaks and creates awful sounds.
“Here,” he laughed. “Like this!”
I keep trying and eventually, I let him guide me. I feel weightless. I dance with him, feeling my arm moving up and down, my fingers flying. I never want to stop. I am free.
He leads me around the house. He teaches me about the instruments, the way the vibrations create sounds and flow together. He shows me techniques to manipulate the emotions that emanate so vividly from them.
“It’s late.” I put down the violin.
“You're only getting started!” He runs back into the living room, and I follow. To my surprise, the room is full of people. Each one grabs one of the instruments and begins playing. My ears are filled with euphonious harmonies and I join in. There is something about playing with instruments of all kinds that gives me goosebumps. Each part is its own masterpiece, and one is enough to take me to other worlds. The Piano plays jubilant chords, a Flute whispers sweetly, a group of Drums clap loudly, and I fill in the empty spaces, supplying the air with the sounds of everything.
I catch him standing in the middle of it all. He is beaming with pride and joy. He is not dancing. He is not singing. He is just standing, looking around at the happiness around him.
I go to him. “What's wrong? Don’t you want to join?”
He grasps my hand. “I already have, haven’t I? I taught all these people what I taught you. All I have to do is be here, and everyone has a part. I brought all of them here. I am doing everything I need to.”
“I guess so.” I sigh. “You know, I came here to find out what it was about you that made everyone like you.” I blushed. “Including... me.”
“And?” He raises an eyebrow. “Did you find anything?”
I think for a moment. I look around at all the smiling, laughing faces. I see the bonding, and how they use that unity to enjoy each other’s company.
I look into his eyes. “I think I have.”