written by Kyle Culver
(Listen to this song while reading. Put it on repeat if you have to.)
"A Symphonie Pathetique – A Winged Victory for the Sullen" From the "Breathe In" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Dustin O'Halloran
"A large group of people have been scouring the dark land for days in search of supplies, or anything to help them keep going. The war was over. The aftermath desperate. It's been over for eighteen years. And yet, they still have to move. Resources are scarce now.
The group approaches a dump yard. Excited and eager faces gleam as they enter and start plundering their new discovery. People yell towards one another with cheers of joy. Scraps of usable metals, cushions, screws, and other things that can be applied to their person.
A young girl moves ahead of the group and begins searching in a different section of the land of newly found treasures. Her face dirty, and hair shining naturally in the dim light of what was left of the sun coming through the thick atmosphere. The wind blew strands across her forehead, and she gently swept them back behind her ears.
She walked slowly among the piles, glancing here and there. Looking for something to catch her eye. She sees an odd contraption, like a box, protruding the underside of a rather large pile on her left. The cheers are but distant muses now. She walks past it brushing her leather covered hand over the edge of the box which seems to have elongated buttons. Her fingers press down as they pass by. They do nothing but give way under the pressure of the tender touch.
Suddenly a sound comes from the lob-sided box. A soft, short burst vibrates from within. The girl stopped and looked back at the rusted structure. Her eyes moved closer and she could now see details of the box. Writing perhaps. A beautiful design had been engraved around the buttons, which seem to actually go inside the oddly shaped box.
She reaches back to the button that just made a sound. She pressed it and held it down this time. Another soft tone came from the device. She pressed it again. And again. She pressed it harder, and it became louder. She jumped a bit from the unexpected increase of volume. She looked around to see if anyone else heard. Nothing.
She continued exploring the rest of the buttons on the box. They were all in a line, in two different colors. She tried each one. Another button made a sound. This one was different though. It had a much higher pitch. She pressed it again. Her fingers found the first button and pressed that one as well. She continued until she found three more buttons that made sounds. All a different pitch and tone.
She went to press them in different orders and combinations. Some of them didn't sound good together. Some sounded like they were meant to be. She quietly pressed the ones that sounded good together. She pressed them again and again and again. At long intervals. Short intervals. Quick bursts, and even longer holds. She continued until she found the right combinations that sounded the best next to each other.
The wind blew her long hair back over her face and her cheeks began to get cold. One of her hands came up to wipe away the tears. Why was she crying? The hand returned to the buttons in defeat as more tears began to run down her cheeks, falling off her chin.
Slowly she went back and forth, button to button. She couldn't remember how long she had stood there. It felt as though she died and was forced to come back to earth. The silence surrounded her. Only the soft sound of her crying spoke out. She didn't want to leave. She didn't want to have to try to explain why her eyes were red, or where she had been, and more importantly why she didn't have anything in her hands.
But she did have something. She didn't know what it was, but she knew deep down it was important. And a piece of that would forever be stuck in that oddly shaped box with the long buttons.
She sat down next to the pile, trying desperately to stay in that moment forever. Everything around her seemed to fade. Her heart felt heavy, and yet, full of excitement, like she had discovered something amazing but couldn't share it with anyone. For a moment she thought she was losing her mind. The emotions she felt she had never experienced before. But she had to tell someone. Who could possibly understand?
"Kara!" a voice in the distance shouted. She quickly snapped out of her distress trying to rid her face of any signs. It was too late. Another woman rounded the pile. "There you ar--" she stopped for a moment gazing at the situation she was oblivious to.
"What's wrong?" the woman asked. She placed her last item in her bag and swung it back over her shoulder.
Kara wanted to answer so badly, but she was still tolled by the emotions from the box that made beautiful sounds. She threw her face into her hands and brought her knees to her forehead. The woman hurried toward her, embracing her with her arms.
"Shh, shh!" the woman tried to understand. "It's ok. It's ok." She sat next to her, holding her, not asking anymore questions. Concern was clearly worn on her face. She looked around to make sure no one else interrupted their moment. That's when the box caught her eye. She noticed the intricate designs and made a mental note of the kind of material it was made out of: wood.
"I'm sorry, Tilda," Kara said between sobs. She was heaving now, spilling her emotions out to the ground with her tears.
Tilda quickly rubbed her arm with reassurance. "No, no, no," she said kindly. "You have nothing to be sorry for."
Another minute went by before Kara lifted her head from her knees. She tried to give Tilda a smile, but it was obviously forced and didn't last longer than a second. She smiled back and brought Kara into her embrace.
"It's been a long trip." She paused, thinking about what she was saying. "It's been a long time."
They both sat there for what seemed to be hours more. Kara felt herself calm down and wiped the last of the tears from her moist cheeks. She took a deep breathe and looked over at Tilda.
Tilda smiled and began to stand. "Suppose we should meet up with the others before they start to wonder." Even her eyes had evidence of the emotions Kara had been drowned with.
Without saying anything Kara stood with Tilda and looked into her glistening eyes. She knew. She said nothing, but she knew. The look she gave Kara was so soft and innocent; an incredible contrast to the irony of their dark lives they had been living for so long now. It comforted her, made her feel safe and accepted.
Tilda placed a hand on Kara's back and slowly rubbed it. Kara looked back at the box. She felt the need to stay, but knew it was ok to move on. She gave the box a quiet 'Thank you' in her head, as if it had shown her a piece of heaven. It made a special place in her heart and it stayed there. It gave her overwhelming peace and confidence. With each step she took she could feel her shoulders getting lighter and lighter.
She looked back once more, just before it disappeared around another large pile of trash. She could almost hear the soft pleasant sounds echo through the yard. A genuine smile crossed her face and she moved on..."