• In the cold winter sunlight, Terrence sat on the icy kerb, not mindful in the slightest of getting his ragged jeans drenched. His canvas-encased feet rested against the ice, which cracked and groaned beneath him. White plumes of smoke rose from the end of his cigarette, which was burned down to the nub, resting precociously on the edge of his dry lips. The dull amber streetlights gradually faded as the last of the night's darkness was bled out by the sunrise.
    As if it had triggered a switch, shopkeepers began to shuffle to their shop doors, the gentle tinkling of bells sounded like the clang of heavy machinery in comparison to the whispering quiet of dawn.

    As a small crowd of early morning shoppers began to trickle in, invading the slippery roads, dragging their bundled up children behind them, who looked as if they were being marched down an execution chamber, rather than to the nearest Littlewoods, Terrance stood up. He took a languid stretch, popping a few stiff bones and started setting up his keyboard. Scratching the back of his neck blearily, he switched the power on, blasted the volume up to full on his keyboard and only halfway on the amps. He stroked the plastic keys as if they were made of ivory and began to pick out a simple, improvised tune, which resounded across the prior deathly-silent streets. A few disgruntled people glanced in his direction, though were far too tired to comment.

    Soon, two people, illuminated by the golden-pink sky, approached from the thin, early-morning fog, equipment upon their backs. Miles, with his serious and tranquil atmosphere, set down his large leather case, unfastened the polished silver clips and eased out the body of his cello. He sat on the once ornate public bench and rested his instrument between his steady thighs. Seemingly out of nowhere, he drew out a bow. He pressed it against the thick wire strings and waited patiently for the last member to be ready, grey eyes fixed on her unwaveringly.

    Emilie had by now unpacked most of her drum kit, her short, wavy head of hair was pinned back from her pale face, so as to not get in her flint eyes. Her strong, large hands produced two beaters from a holster. She stood back from the other two bandmates and tapped out a beat which would be the backbone to the music they were about to bear.

    Miles drew his bow across the strings, starting an intro to the piece he had chosen to play that day. Having caught on, Terrance tapped the keys in fast motion, the beat of Emilie's drum got more confident.

    All together, they played a disjointed version of Yann Tiersen's La Valse D'amelie. Terrance struck the chords of the frost-adorned piano rapidly, Miles rutted the bow across the strings, playing deep notes to compromise with the high violin from the original. His slender fingers danced across the wire, keeping up with the melody with ease. The rush of winter torrent reddened calloused fingers and inflamed high cheekbones, which were surrounded by curtains of neat, brown hair.
    "Do keep up, Terrence," he drawled, a small smirk on his face, "we don't all have the whimsical ability to completely shred a masterpiece, yet keep it at least somewhat recognizable."
    "Stop. You're making me blush," Terrance dead panned, striking out a spontaneous crescendo of notes.

    Suddenly the song seemed... blander. Terrance turned, pushing his grey beanie out of his eyes. Something felt different, but he couldn't figure out what. After all, Terrance and Emilie were doing the same duet as always. Shrugging it off as a figment of his imagination, Terrance soon forgot that he'd felt a change at all.

    Sometimes, Terrance would blink, and for a moment he'd see nothing but a looming space of white, the hollow silence penetrated only by the infernal ticking of a clock. But this image would quickly fade to the populated streets before him - wasn't there a bench there before?

    "What are you doing?" a voice demanded. Terrence turned to see Emilie staring at him, her ( eyes filled with tears, " Oh, god, what's wrong with you, wake up, wake up, wake up! " ) hands a blur as she slammed the beaters again and again and again. He realized suddenly that he'd stopped playing. He stared as his hands which were shaking and blistering and bloodstained and--

    Terrence woke up. The - dream? - hallucination? - flickering before his eyes. His arms, connected to... something, were outstretched. Why? Ah, yes, there's a piano under there, right?

    And so, in the cold winter sunlight, Terrance sat on the icy kerb, alone.


    A stocky nurse entered the room, the government-hand-out clock on the wall informing Emilie and Miles that visiting hours were over.

    "Poor dear," she sighed, as Terrance's handless stumps flailed in the air, "this old band of yours must have meant a lot to him."
    "The world," Emilie said listlessly, buttoning up her coat and taking leave, letting Miles ask the same he had asked every day for the past 23 years.
    "How is he doing," he questioned the nurse, as he had done the day before and the day before that.
    "Apart from obvious problems, he's physically astonishingly healthy. He'll live a long life, I daresay," she chirped.

    Miles nodded, as he had done the day before and the day before that, and swept out the room, closing the rosemary-wreath adorned door behind him with a click.