The long season of rain had ended, and only a single petal-like cloud floated in the night sky, illuminated by the crescent moon. The breeze that entered the room was warm, despite the time of night, and seemed to herald the coming of summer. Although I became aware of the house lights scattered about in the distance, I continued to press the organ’s keys, my eyes scanning a sheet of music.
I memorized the basic progression of notes that flowed out and then proceeded to slowly hum the tune. I felt a little embarrassed when imagining how far this “la-la-la" melody of mine might carry through a night this silent, and my voice became soft.
As if drowning in the sound myself, I hummed the same song countless times. At last, I had become nearly satisfied with the accuracy of my pitch and took a deep breath, intending to add the lyrics on my next attempt.
At that moment, a voice called to me from the other side of the sliding door.
It was my father.
It was incredibly rare for him to come all the way to my room to call for me. Perhaps the organ, or maybe my humming, had been too loud. I timidly responded.
“Come to the shrine room.”
As usual, his voice was serious, but he didn’t appear to be angry. I was relieved, yet all the more struck by how mysterious it was. The shrine room was often used when there was something important to discuss, but I couldn’t possibly imagine what there was to talk about.
“I’ll be there shortly.”
The sound of footsteps faded away. It seemed that today’s practice was complete. I closed the lid of the organ and shut the window.
Suddenly, as I left my room, I became inexplicably hesitant. What exactly was it that he wanted to talk about? For no particular reason, I felt a terrible apprehension.
—Maybe I could just continue to hum instead?
Even thoughts like these passed through my head at that moment.
Of course I couldn’t. As I approached the moment of truth, I somehow managed to steel my nerves a little. I smiled as I thought about my earlier moment of panic and turned off the lights in my room. Beyond the window, across which the curtains had not been closed, a small cloud drifted in front of the moon.