The train tracks beat their rhythm beneath Tobias’ feet in 3/4 time – manifestations of the frantic waltz of his recent life. For weeks it seemed all those silent patterns on which a person is constructed had been spilling out of him, co-mingling with his environment, changing it with subtle, phantasmagorical strokes and reflecting his innermost back at him. He could see it all around; in the ebb and flow of human biomass on busy Glasgow streets, the murmured words of strangers in the bar he liked to frequent, alone, after rehearsal. Even now in the flicker of sunlight passing through the leaves and branches of trees alongside the tracks as he made his way to his childhood home.

It wasn’t her fault but she was definitely the flash point. He didn’t even know her name, didn’t really know her, but yet he saw her everyday. Sat huddled in a doorway across from the concert hall where he played with the orchestra every day that summer. Noticing her that first nervous morning, as he made his way towards the rehearsal space, hand clutched tightly around the handle of his trumpet case, rucksack hanging from his shoulder. All in the eyes, dusty and far away. He only caught her gaze for but a moment. He learnt real quick that the city streets were full of the homeless – would stop and talk to them ocassionally, buy a Big Issue, give them change, but never before had he seen suck eyes. Eyes that had seen everything that had ever been; before, beyond and betwixt. Gave him shivers.

He hurried onward. Gave her no more thought – like the great expanse she had opened up in his head had swallowed itself. Until lunchtime, as he spilled out into the sun with his new friends; A basoonist with spikey shoulder length haircalled June, and a black violinist who’d everybody had taken to calling ‘token’. He took the nickname with good humour wrapped in a sense of menace – an affectation born from his life growing up on Edinburgh streets. As they walked to a cafe June knew it was as if that expanse had opened again and Tobias couldn’t help but turn around and look at what he took to be her huddled form in the distance. Again, he shivered, walking the entire way in a daze, lost in that expanse. As soon as they walked through the doors of the cafe it left him once again, leaving only absence.

That’s when he started noticing the strangeness of things, those unconscious interconnections of the everyday, the daisy chains of his own thoughts. He could suddenly see music for what it was; an algebra of need, driven by those things that lived not only beneat the surfaces of people, but beneath everything, abstract and mundane. A cosmology both inside and outside of itself.

As the train swayed Tobias got unsteadily to his feet. Reaching above his head he pulled his trumpet case down and placed it on the table before taking his seat again. Working the two brass clasps he opened it up, letting his eyes fall inside. He knew that it would never be filled again but that he would carry that case with him till the day he died. A reminder of the absence at the heart of all things.

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