His fingers were elegant.
They worked in perfect rhythm to produce everything he could not say. Where I could only ever hear notes and simple emotion, he heard stories, saw worlds.
I used to envy him, to hide my hurt gaze behind his shoulder blades, to rest my jealousy on his thin, tired shoulders.
His fingers were beautiful.
They danced over the keys; they made the masters look like child's play; they shamed my clumsy attempts at carrying a tune without malice.
I used to long to be him – I would have given anything to have his talent, his skill. Anything was worth the fingers that never failed.
His soul was transcendent.
I could listen to the same piece for the rest of my life, and yet each time would hear something different – me, with my beginner's ear, with no intuition. His music, its ineffability, made up for my complete lack.
His body was broken.
Crippled beyond humanity; his fragile bones were scarred beyond repair – that is, if anyone would have wanted to repair them. His lips were still forever; silent unto the grave. His body, clothed in threadbare fatigues, was the deterrent of all. All, save me.
I used to long to be him. I did not care that he was rent by all life had dealt him – his music captivated me, lifted me, saved me. It redeemed my tattered soul, and breathed into it once more. I wanted to do the same – for anyone and everyone.
I used to envy him.
I used to envy him, but somewhere along the road, caught up in the melody that was his heart, I found that my own sang a harmony – a hopeful, uncertain harmony.
And I then understood that his song – the tune I couldn't fathom before – was love.
Clumsily, plainly, simply, love.