“Have you listened to it?” I looked up from the couch. His voice was sudden to the silence.
Rylo Beverly: music mastermind, charmer extraordinaire-. Freshman year he created a song and started a phenomenon. Everyone-every single person-who’d listened to the song claimed it to be life-changing, a feat so startling, they didn’t know what to do with it.
Rylo Beverly, with beautiful blue eyes, was standing in front of me. Rylo Beverly, asking if I’d heard his life-changing song.
We were in the green room, the last ones left after rehearsals.
“Why would it matter?” I asked, of course I knew what he was talking about. What a nuisance, I got up to start packing my bag.
“It matters.” he insisted so stubbornly, I wanted to believe him.
I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes. Normally I would’ve humored him, but that day I’d already been teased. “Only in the most superficial sense. You just want to know what your life-changing song would do to the non-binary kid huh?”
It was like he was put on pause for a moment while my words sunk in. He actually stumbled backward, as if I’d done him a blow. That brilliant, vibrant aura he walked with a moment ago was gone. He looked down at his hands.
“No I- it wasn’t that,” It was startling, the change in sound. Rylo’s voice had gone from the green sparkling garden to a gray mumble. “I mean-yes. Yes, I do want to know what you would think of the song. It-it’s not because…” his voice diedoff, “Maybe I am curious about what a nonbinary person might think of my song. Not because not having a gender makes you any different. I mean- it does, but not in a way that’s- different.”
Huh. I crossed my arms, “So? What does my ‘gender’ have to do with any of this?”
“Yeah, I’m… sorry” Rylo’s face was red now, “I had this whole thing planned but-” he pushed his hair back, and of course I was entranced.
He was kind of beautiful, disrupting-ly so. Bright blue eyes out of place next to his shoulder length black hair. He had a lanky body, which he held as if he was on strings: head and limbs loose. His arms are pale and veiny, the kind only a master sculptor could call art.
I was staring. And quite possibly drooling. I shook my head and dropped the stiff demeanor I had, “No, in fact I haven’t listened to your wonderful song, but…” I glanced at him shyly, “We could listen to it now, if you want.”
“Listen to it now?” it was a question, he hadn’t caught on yet.
“The song. Do you have it?” I leaned back to my heels, gotta act cool you see. “On your phone, that is.”
“I-yes.” Rylo fumbled in his back pocket for his phone, pulling it and the earbuds attached. They were tangled and his hands were too jittery to get them straight. Why would he be nervous?
“Here.” and of course, for all the universe, my hand brushes his as he hands the earbuds over. I get them untangled easily, plugging them in and taking one for my own as I hand him the other earbud. “Pull it up.”
He let out a nervous laugh and sat next to me, he pulled up all his recordings to look for the song. There were a lot and I realized, maybe Rylo wants more than his one song. Not that it was the time to think about it though, since Rylo had found his song, and it was time to be hit by some miracle.
At first, there was just a single, threaded note. Weaving high and low. Then, thumping, like the beat of a heart. And suddenly, a symphony of sound, crashing into me.
A steady, rhythmic pulsing is prominent to the high and low swells of the song. They’re like individual, sharp little knives. Coming at your skin, hitting everywhere. An unbearable feeling of loneliness pounded into me, crushing my lungs. It hurt.
The swells… the swells. They hit you, over and over. At the beginning, it feels as if you’re coming back. Rising up, from destruction or death-something horrible. A feeling of renewal. But then-it fooms. Plunges. The swell drops, like that previous joy, is crushed under a big heavy rock. And it begins again.
Suddenly I was crying. There were tears running down my face and beautiful, beautiful Rylo was frozen beside me. The song ended as I let out a choked sob. I felt Rylo gently take the bud out of my ear and take me in an awkward side hug.
He was silent as I cried, it made me believe he’d gone through similar situations before. I took a peek at him from between my fingers, and he was staring at me. Hug no more, with that same intense look I’d gotten earlier.
“What?” my voice came out thick.
“Are you okay?” and I near cried again. How he didn’t ask me about the song, rather about me.
“I-” I scrambled for the right words. “Rylo I-” what to say, “It was brilliant.”
Still staring, “There’s never been a song that’s made me feel so strongly before. The whole song just crushed me.”
He gave me a quizzical look, and I let him have a small smile, “It felt lonely. Feels lonely. Like you have to take on this huge burden by yourself but you’re all alone, everybody’s left you.”
Rylo nodded slowly, “That makes sense, probably because of the scream I added in there, right?”
I scoot away from him, “Scream?”
He laughed, “No need to run away. But yes, when that wave-or swell in your case-is rising, I have a slight scream in there. More of a yell really, battle cry? But it’s really deep, matches very closely with the noise so I guess you only hear it in your subconscious.”
I poked him, “Perhaps your song will be one to evoke many great wars, Mr. Beverly.”
He looks over at me, a smile crinkles his eyes and I can already see something familiar in them.