Cadence opens her eyes and rolls over to look at her clock. 3:15 AM. She reaches for the glass of water on the nightstand and her hand touches an unfamiliar object.
Turning on her bedside lamp, she stares down at the velvet pouch.
She is alone in the house, save for her two cats. Where did this come from? Trembling, she picks it up, examining it. Lush blue velvet, no markings, no sign of where it came from. She unties the silk cord and inside is a small wooden box with a crescent moon carved on top. A music box.
Shaken, she winds up the box and the music begins. She recognizes the song immediately as It’s Only a Paper Moon. Wiping her tear-stained face, Cadence feels peace as the music comes to an end.
She does her best to go back to sleep, but her mind is full of questions. How did the box get on her nightstand? And why that song, of all songs? Counting the notes to the song instead of sheep, she drifts back to sleep.
The next morning she ponders the appearance of the music box in the middle of the night. No logical answers come to her. But whoever put it there, knows her well.
Six months after her husband Conor died, Cadence moved into a new home. It is large for her and the two cats, but she loves it. Amazing architectural details, three stories, and a basement. Best of all, it is large enough to house her baby grand piano, a gift from Conor, which she will never part with.
That said, there have been a couple of strange occurrences since Cadence moved in. One morning, she woke up to find the bobbing ball cat toy sitting on the rug beside her bed. The cat toy has a weight on the bottom and weighs at least 5 lbs. The night before, it was in the living room on the first floor. There is no way the cats could have carried it up the flight of stairs. She shrugged it off, thinking she forgot she had brought it upstairs. Three days later she came home from work to find her knee brace sitting on the first flight of stairs. Her knee was hurting again and she had been meaning to hunt through the packed boxes on the third floor for it. She picked it up, and said to the empty room, “Nice one Conor”.
And now, this. The music box Conor gave her on their first wedding anniversary sitting beside her bed.
Before going to work, she walks up to the third floor and into the room where the packed boxes are. The air is cooler up here, and all the boxes are still taped shut. Wrapping her arms around herself, she retreats from the cold room, closes the door.
She goes to work, but can’t stop thinking about what happened.
Two nights later, another 3:15AM wake up call. She hears a rustling, as a burst of cold air hits her. Shaken, she pulls the chain on the bedside lamp. Another small blue velvet bag. Another music box. This one made of carved rose quartz. She winds the music box, and it plays The Rose. The music box Conor gave her on their second anniversary. She remembers how she cried that night. He was so thoughtful. Rose quartz was the stone for a second anniversary and it stands for love. The Rose was one of her favorite songs.
‘Am I going crazy?’ She knows she should be afraid, or at least concerned, but for some reason she isn’t. Is it Conor, trying to communicate with her from beyond? And if so, what is he trying to tell her? The rest of the night she tosses and turns with odd dreams plaguing her. In one, Conor is telling her he’s sorry he had to go. That he wished things had been different for them and they had more time.
For five more nights, she awakes at 3:15AM. Each time, there is another music box. They are all given to her in the order of each anniversary. The third one, made of leather and the song is Leather and Lace. The fourth, made of rosewood and carved with flowers, plays La Vie En Rose. The fifth, made of walnut with a carving of trees, plays Norwegian Wood. The sixth, is maple with an amethyst stone inlaid and plays Purple Rain. The last one, made of copper and inlaid with Lapis Lazuli, plays Tangled Up in Blue. On their fourth anniversary, Cadence tried to get Conor to tell her where he got the music boxes but he refused. He told her, “They’re made by magic so we will be in love forever and if I tell you where they are from, the magic will disappear.” She never questioned him again.
At this point, Cadence is accustomed to the nightly visits. In fact, she welcomes them. It almost feels as if Conor has come back to her. Oh, how she misses him. He was and is the love of her life. She doubts there will ever be anyone who can live up to his memory. She knows this and resigns herself to the fact she may spend the rest of her life mourning him.
But now, there will be no more music boxes because Conor is dead.
No point in wishful thinking. Conor is gone and she’ll never receive another precious gift from him. She would give them all up for another moment with him. It was too soon for him to go. She remembers their last kiss good-bye; he told her “I’ll always love you babe, to the moon and back.” Those were the last words he ever spoke to her.
The next few weeks go by in a whirlwind and there are no more nightly visits. She is mourning his loss all over again. Not only is the anniversary of Conor’s death coming up, but so is their 8th wedding anniversary. It will be a very hard week for her, so she plans to take some vacation time.
Cadence spends the day Conor died honoring his life. She puts on some music, and cooks as if she’s making pasta for an army. They loved cooking together. Conor had been a professional chef, but he always said to her ‘Your pasta gravy beats mine any day, babe.’ She misses hearing him call her babe. She eats dinner alone, with her cats staring up at her begging for a bite. The ocean of tears she has been holding at bay finally come as she makes her way up to her bedroom. She falls into a red wine induced sleep.
That night, at 3:15 AM, she awakes, hears a soft voice telling her, ‘Go to 315 Maple Avenue tomorrow. There is something there for you. And remember I love you to the moon and back, babe.’ She feels a chill in the room and calls out, “Conor, is that you?” But there is no answer.
The morning sun is bright at its peeks through her windows. She rolls over and then remembers the voice in the night. Was it all a dream? Or was it Conor, coming to her again? She dresses and drives into the city. Navigating with her phone, she finds 315 Maple Avenue.
It’s a quaint looking shop named Musica Magica. She walks in and there behind an ornate desk sits a weathered little man. There is a name placard on the desk- Guiseppe Magica. She smiles at the name as she realizes that was Conor’s inside joke. He looks at her through coke bottle glasses.
“Yes, My husband told me to come here, but I am not sure why. My name is Cadence, Cadence Crawford. My husband is Conor Crawford.”
“Ah! At last, I get to meet the beautiful woman who my music boxes are for. But where is your husband?”
“He…he’s dead. He died in an accident three days after our 7th anniversary.”
Making the sign of the cross, he says, “Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. Conor was a good man, and a kind soul. I suppose you are here to pick up the order?”
He pulls aside a colorful curtain and walks into a back room. Emerges with a music box in his hand. It is solid bronze, with a beautiful piece of tanzanite inlaid on top.
Shocked, Cadence says, ‘But how? I don’t understand. He’s gone, how could he place an order?”
The shopkeeper says, “Oh, each year when he came in to pick up the music box, he placed an advance order. These boxes take a long time to make as they are all hand-made by me.” He walks her over to a tall ornate table, puts the box on a blue velvet pad.
“Would you like me to tell you about this one?” Cadence nods her head.
“This is a very special box. It is solid bronze, and the stone is tanzanite. Are you familiar with tanzanite?”
“Tanzanite is the stone of magic. It helps you with spiritual awareness and psychic insight.”
“May I wind it up for you so you can hear the song?”
Cadence, unable to speak, nods.
“I thought it was an odd song for such a happy occasion but I did as he asked. You know, the customer is always right.”
He winds it up and the music starts to play.
Tears in Heaven, by Eric Clapton.
Cadence crumbles, and slides to the floor, weeping.
Copyright © 2017 Linda Lee Lyberg
Copyright: evdoha / 123RF Stock Photo