Isla, November 19th, 2017
The night had long fallen over London in a darkness that resembled a black velvet blanket, both in texture and feeling, as the clock finally chimed to introduce a new day. Right then, the dark seemed all-encompassing, its rule only broken by the few lighten windows, seemingly looking through the night like one-eyed creatures and the everlasting strings of fairy lights that had found their ways onto most houses, despite it barely being the middle of November. It would still be hours until the city’s streets would be swarming with locals and tourists once again and yet the first traces of activity were already noticeable, as Columbia Road Flower Market’s merchants had started bargaining in a plethora of different languages, shouting to each other with the enthusiasm only a Sunday morning could bring. Generally, the inhabitants of the London town houses of the area did not steer by the muffled shouts outside, but one pair of fawn eyes was noticing the activity with a sleepy sense of attentiveness. Every now and again these very eyes would get distracted by the bright lights of a passing car or the flicker of a lighted street lamp, before returning her attention to the steady fall of snowflakes. They themselves were seated in almost complete darkness, in a room that was filled with music rather than light.
Only after the last beat of Mozart’s 40th symphony had faded away, the eyes abandoned the nightly spectacle of London’s streets. It had taken a couple of seconds until the new-found silence had reached the fawn-eyed girl; until it had filled the room with equal effectiveness as the music had done only moments before. It took Isla another minute to break out of her stupor and move away from her position at the windowsill. She had been lost in thought, had allowed the flowing music and the constant movement of the snow to take her away into a world of her own. Now, it was surprisingly hard to exit this sense of trance and to return to her dark room once again.
It had been a fairly quiet evening. The birthday celebrations of the last days had slowly but surely died away and her two Italian roommates had left to spend the holiday season with their families abroad, leaving Isla all by her lonesome, with nothing but an old phonograph to keep her company. Overall, the feeling was drastically different to a mere days ago, when the flat had been crowded by friends and family celebrating her birthday. Even her brother had come all the way from South Africa for the occasion and had outdone himself with his present, which – in addition to his visit – had consisted of the ancient record player and a multitude of different vinyl records now sitting in her room. Isla had barely managed to wait until her guests had left before placing the first record on the player and listening to the soft classical music. She had spent most of the last days like that: allowing the music to fill the room and reminiscing about all the festivities. But as the darkness grew ever more intense and even the most nocturnal inhabitants London’s started closing their eyes, Isla decided to place the very last vinyl record onto her phonograph: Mozart’s 13th serenade, otherwise known as his kleine Nachtmusik, the single most perfect song to fall asleep to. The record felt cold underneath her fingers as she took it out of its cover and set it onto the player instead – unnoticed a small sliver of paper fell out of the envelope as well, resting onto the dark floor. Isla herself, sat down very close to it, yet was so immersed into the music that she didn’t notice any of her surroundings anymore. It was fantastical to her, how melodies could have such different quality if played like this. Closing her eyes, Isla could almost imagine an entire orchestra inside of her room, further intensifying the gratitude she felt towards her brother for gifting her such a beautiful present.
Just as she was about to get up at least, her fingers brushed the little paper on the floor. Surprised she turned on the light to investigate – and stalled. It took a couple of moments for her eyes to see after the all-encompassing darkness, which had ruled the past hours, but once the fawn eyes travelled over the note’s few lines and the serenade ended in the background, sleep was the last thing on Islas mind.