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Nine Songs

1. The first song is forgettable.
Even though you can't stop dreaming about it.
2. The second song is some sort of calypso number. It reminds you of some of the songs in The Little Mermaid, only instead of the sea, it's about walls, and stars, and holes, and dancing. You think. You're not really listening, though you find yourself dancing a bit in your chair, in the car, in the grocery store. You ignore anyone who looks at you. It's just a song.
It never occurs to you to wonder where the song comes from. Not this song, anyway.
3. The third song is, you think, some type of hymn. Maybe. You haven't been to church for years, not since you were very small, so you aren't entirely sure what hymns sound like anymore, except maybe Amazing Grace, and this isn't Amazing Grace. The more you listen to it, the more you aren't sure what it is, only that a thousand thousand voices are singing about walls and stars, and no matter how much you clasp your hands to your ears, or try to get your phone to play another song, it's the only thing you can hear. And that you're having to bite down on your lip to stop singing along.
4. The fourth song is heavy metal. You hate heavy metal. You always found it obnoxious and irritating, and that was before you dated the guy who was unable to play anything but Iron Maiden and Blue Oyster Cult, and liked to call himself Avant-garde. Which he never knew how to spell. Or pronounce. Hearing it now makes you flinch. You have got to make this song stop. Got to. And yet. You don't want to hear about holes and dancing and stars and walls. It follows you everywhere. The grocery store plays it. Your computer. The television. It ends every sitcom, every drama; it plays during the football halftime show. You mute everything. You put in earplugs. Your lip bleeds.
For the first time you start to wonder what the hell is going on.
5. The fifth song is country music. You don't mind country, as long as it's good country, which this isn't, though you can tell, as with so many country songs, that things are going badly; the walls have left the stars sitting at a Greyhound bus stop; everyone is falling through a hole and still dancing.
Something's wrong. Possibly with the computer. Probably with the computer. You run every virus scan and diagnostic test you can think of. You reformat the hard drive. You throw the computer out and get a new one. Nothing stops the country music. Nothing. You are almost missing the heavy metal.
Also, you're starting to get scared.
6. The song--for some reason, you're starting to think it's the same song, even though it clearly isn't the same song, even though the song keeps changing and the words keep changing--now seems to be some sort of new agey, synthesized crap, the sort one of your friends had always told you would help you relax. It is not helping you relax. It is making you want to punch holes through stars to reach new walls, to dance, to sing.
It's hallucinations. It's got to be hallucinations. Not your computer. Maybe it's time to see a doctor. At least it's not rap, you tell yourself hopefully, hoping that the song will take a hint.
7. It's not rap. It's blues, although not the sort of blues B.B. King would want to be associated with. For once, it fits your mood; you find yourself swaying to the beat, humming walls, walls, stars, during the three months that it takes you to see a neurologist. You think you hear the other six songs, too, but you don't find yourself humming those. The doctor orders a series of tests. You find yourself trying to scribble down lyrics as you are ordered to touch your nose, put one foot directly in front of the other one, stand straight, arms outstretched, eyes closed. You are swaying, but not because your eyes are closed, but because of the music. You sing it in the MRI machine, hum it during your spinal tap. You find yourself, for once, in complete agreement with your insurance company. These tests are a complete waste of time. What you want to do, need to do, is walk through walls and dances.
8. It's now opera. In, you think, German. Maybe. You've never been good at languages. It might be Hungarian. Or Russian. Or Swedish. The odd thing is that here and there, as a tenor voice soars, you think you understand a few words. At least you're starting to understand what the song--it's one song, you're certain of that now--means. It's not hallucinations, or a tumor, or anything wrong with your brain. It's something else. A new talent, maybe. What you know is that the walls around you are shimmering, and that you can now distinctly hear every word of the song, even if you don't know what it means.
9. You don't know what this is. You don't care. You realize that you are no longer scared. You breathe. You reach through the walls, touching the holes on the other side. They are filled with stars. You grab them in both hands, and dance.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, August 15th, 2016
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