At no other time do I realize how far gone she is as when she plays the piano.
As a concert pianist, the sound she used to bring out of it was simply magic. It would soothe the soul, take you soaring to heaven. Now, pounding full force at the keys, she stammers. Her music—if you can still call it that—is wild. Its one melodious stretch is disintegrating, somehow, into an unwieldy thump, thump, thump.
She grits her teeth. She pleats her brow. She strokes the keys, then slaps them, hard. A strand of red hair interlaced with silver falls over her eye. With effort, she staggers through a few musical phrases that rise up, without warning, into a scream.
Then her notes stumble again. Again they turn into despair.
In the small Santa Monica apartment where we have lived for decades, the reverberation shakes the walls. It shocks me, in a heartbeat, into feeling helpless.
Sometimes I wonder: after such a long time together, how little do we know each other?
Who is this woman, with whom I have built a family? Behind this frightened gaze, is this really Natasha, my love, my inspiration? Can I stop her from becoming even more damaged? Can I save her? Is she still present?
And if this is no longer Natasha as I know her, Perhaps this is Rochelle? Perhaps she is just fooling me—and not only me but everyone else too, including the doctors—because... Because to win a victory against a dangerous foe, sometimes you must work your way through deception, through secrets and lies.
Is she just pretending—for reasons known only to her—to be a new person, different from the one I thought she was?
Oh, how I would like to believe that!