In the studio office, I made two copies of the sheet music. One copy was for me.
I was her manager. Even though Kitahara-senpai might be superior to me in excellence, I was the one supporting her from day to day.
Being kept on the outside for so long was getting to me.
In fact, there was a murky fog billowing up within me. Roiling.
Roiling roiling roiling… rrrrgh!
I’d played the piano in elementary school, myself, for crying out loud.
I stopped once I got to middle school—a combination of the instrument not really clicking and a shift of priorities to studying for the Houjou entrance exams. But I could still read a bit of sheet music.
Therefore, I ought to be able to make myself more useful than Kitahara-senpai.
I sat in the lobby for a bit, looking over the score.
Buuut… as I looked at it again, this one didn’t have anything written on it. Just the harmony and a part of the melody.
Well, it was a fairly pretty melody, anyway.
My mood seemed to be lifting.
But, what worth could there be in such a hollow score?
As I dealt with a few remaining emails from the concert venue and other miscellaneous tasks, I glared at my copy of the sheet music, wringing my brain.
What kind of piece had its composer been aiming for? With what notes had they thought to solve the problem of “filling the blank page”?
I searched, “sheet music, 24 staves.”
Something tugged at me.
I searched “unfinished symphony.”
The top result was Schubert’s famous Eighth Symphony.
And, apart from that…
“Ah!” Could it be…?
Before we got out of our taxi back at the hotel, I glanced around for a blue car, but didn’t see any such thing parked nearby.
“They don’t seem to be around.”
“Hmm… I dunno.”
She put on a look of indifference as she entered the lobby.
As she approached the front desk to pick up her key, a man approached.
Blue eyes, curly blond hair, cleft chin. Medium build.
Yet another pushy fan, then. They were everywhere.
“Excuse me.” I interposed myself between her and the man. “Is there something you need?”
“None of your business, kiddo.”
Oh, now I was really getting angry!
“If you get any closer, I will call the doorman.”
The man stopped in his tracks.
“You got some business with me?”
She spoke over my shoulder.
“Yes, with you. You bought that sheet music at the flea market, right?”
Why would she tell him?!
“Sell it to me.”
Her answer was immediate.
“That score is no use to an Asian piano pianist.”
“Uh-huh. Do you know who I am?”
“You’re Kazusa Touma, the pianist from Japan.”
“I intend to compose ten symphonies that will be written in the history of the galaxy. It is of plenty use to me. My rival’s raw sheet music will make excellent research material.”
The blue-eyed man began to laugh.
“You’ve got the wrong idea. That’s not his sheet music, there’s no way. The idea that you could discover something like that in Washington is absurd.”
“But you’re curious, aren’t you? What if it were? How wild would that be?”
“Incidentally, I’m only half-convinced myself, still. But the more I read it, with every attempt I make to deny the possibility, the more it seems like it could be his.”
“No way. There’s no way that’s possible.”
“Anyway, I’m not giving it to you.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Mm-hmm, good question…”
She laid the pointer finger of her right hand against her lovely chin. Her long, narrow eyes widened and regarded the man coldly.
Her mouth looked like a last-quarter crescent moon.
It was… terrifying.
The man seemed to be getting worked up, his emotions heightened by impatience.
I started to worry that an explosion might be imminent.
“If you’re dying to know, then come and hear it performed in Philadelphia.”
“My next concert.”
“Um, the Kimmel Center is sold out already.”
“If you really want to come, you can find a ticket from a scalper in an online auction, I’m sure. Now, Mr. Doorman…”
She waved at the porter nearby.
“This gentleman was just leaving, so if you would be so kind as to show him the exit…”