For Never and Always
© 2011 Helen Ying
Cantabile – in singing style
She sighed as she examined the dusty guitar that lay on her lap. She had been able to play so
many songs on it once. Once upon a time, when he was alive. Then, the crowds had gone crazy,
all their dignity forgotten as they screamed and jumped like maniacs during their concerts…
Now, she was alone. He was gone, taking half of her with him. Absently, she began strumming
again on her guitar.
I once believed in a world
Of pumpkin coaches and palaces
Now it’s gone to me, gone to me
For ever and always
Con anima – with feeling
She sits in the shade beside the fountain with her guitar in her lap, frowning thoughtfully over a
sheet of music. She occasionally strums a chord or two, then recommences poring over the paper.
He watches her from an upstairs window, smiling at the way her hair hangs down over her face
like a veil as she leans over to read. He knows that sometime soon, all those disjointed chords
would somehow fit together into a tune under her expert fingers and her sweet voice would echo
through the courtyard, enchanting birds and filling the whole world with light.
Sensing his gaze, she glances up. But he has gone.
Crescendo – getting louder
She hooks a strand of hair behind her ear, positions her fingers and begins to play and sing. He’s
standing outside the door, listening, still and silent. Her voice flows through the keyhole, clear as
day, sweeter than honey, full of passion. He smiles and pushes open the door.
She doesn’t hear him come in. She is too absorbed by her music, too caught up in her own world
of crotchets and quavers, to hear him. She continues, closing her eyes and allowing the wave of
sound to carry her on. Finally she stops and catches sight of him standing there, watching her.
Two bright spots of colour appear in her cheeks and she turns her gaze to the floor.
“To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before.” He smiles at her, silently willing her
to look up again. She does and smiles back tentatively.
“I composed it myself.” She says hesitantly. A strand of hair falls loose again and sweeps across
her face. He reaches over and tucks it behind her ear.
“I’ll see you around then.” He pauses by the door. “I really believe you have talent. You’ll go far
one day. Remember me.”
Con brio – with spirit
She realises what she has been playing. The lullaby. His lullaby. Her eyes widen in shock. She
flings the guitar at the floor, where it explodes in a whirlwind of splinters and dust. Sobbing, she
buries her face in her pillow, her fists clenched in angry defiance to the world.
Allegro – lively and fast
After that, they’d become a couple. Every time she saw him, her heart would melt and she’d be in
a haze of joy for the rest of the day. He’d bring her roses, chocolates, cards – whenever they met,
he’d have something for her, which she’d always receive with delight.
Their lives became the sort of ‘happily ever after’ you’d expect from a fairy tale. In their case, the
story was simple – Once upon a time, there lived two musicians. They longed for each other but
didn’t know the other loved them. They waited for years before the man finally gained the
courage to approach the woman. Then they lived happily ever after.
But that happily ever after didn’t last. Nothing, it seemed, was for ever and always.
Attaca – go on at once
The front door slams shut as a gust of wind picks it up and throws it back into place. She smiles,
knowing he’s home. Sure enough, a few moments later, she feels his arms slide around her waist
and pull her into a massive bear hug.
“How was your day, honey?” He lets her down and she turns around to put her arms around his
“It was okay, but now it’s even better now you’re home.” She smiles, leaning close into his chest,
hearing his heart beat its regular rhythm.
Suddenly, he makes an unearthly choking noise and staggers forward. She gasps as he collapses
to the floor.
“Oh my God! Honey? Are you okay?”
And that was only the beginning of the nightmare of her life.
Grave – very slow and serious
She sits on the hard hospital chair, her eyes puffy and red from crying. Bits of the doctors’
conversation are drifting out to her from the door of the ward.
“Not long…stroke…have to tell her…” The words don’t make any sense. They whirl about in her
mind, refusing to click into place, until suddenly –
“No!” Her own voice is shockingly loud as she jumps up, fresh tears running down her cheeks.
No! He couldn’t die!
The doctors have heard her. They file out of the ward, purposely not meeting her eyes as she
stares at them, hoping one of them might burst out laughing, to declare that it was only some sort
of sick doctors’ joke. But no such luck.
“We tried our best.” Those are the only words she hears before the world around her swirls then
fades into black.
Morendo – dying away
The next few weeks are a blur. She spends almost all her time at his bedside, trying to talk to him
when he is awake and trying to convince herself that he is still alive while he sleeps. He mumbles
to himself in his sleep every now and then, reassuring her, yet raising new fears about when he
actually will die.
He is rarely lucid. The doctors say his stroke has affected his brain badly and he will never be the
She sits by his bed one afternoon, her hand resting in his. She is watching the light play across his
face, watching it flicker and change with the shadows of the leaves outside. Suddenly, his eyes
flicker open. He smiles, reaching up to brush her cheek with the tips of his fingers.
“I’ve come to say goodbye,” he whispers, lucid for the first time in weeks. “Remember me,
forever and always.”
Then his hand falls back to his side and his eyes close for the last time.
Da Capo al Fine – repeat the phrase to the word fine
She picks up the shards of the broken guitar, her heart and soul. She gently pieces them back
together, then lets it crumble again. Sweeping up the pieces, she throws them into a black garbage
bag, which she then dumps outside.
Forever and always. If only. Nothing had been Forever and Always after his death except her
grief and her broken heart. It should have been For Never and Always all along. You never know
what you’ve got until you’ve lost it.