Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, Part 6 is here, Part 7 is here, Part 8 is here
I rushed out the door, jumped into my car and fumbled for the keys. I drove to the hospital, checking the paper with my hand-scratched notes. Tim Philips. Menengitis. Room 307.
I paused before entering the room. I was going to have to ask the mother to pay some up-front, and that always felt like asking for charity. But I spent so much time fielding calls and recovering from the healing sessions, I'd had to quit my job at the clothing shop. I wasn't making enough with the free-will donations any more.
"Hi, Tim," I said to the small boy in the hospital bed. "I'm LunaMae. I'm going to try to help you."
The boy started to nod, but the tell-tale stiff neck cut off his movement. He tried to follow my movement around the bed, but flinched from the light when I went past the window.
I glanced at his mother, seeing the pain and stress in her eyes, and I sighed, knowing I wasn't going to be able to press her for payment. The weight of my bills and a thousand other niggling thoughts made my shoulders sag as I sat down next to the boy's bed.
I began the song, reaching for the version of reality where music took form. I couldn't find it.
I tried to relax and shake off the panic rising in the back of my mind. I focused on the sounds and rhythm, trying to visualize the music.
After several long minutes, I felt the slight shift in my mind. I opened my eyes and felt the relief race through my limbs when I saw the notes.
I sifted through the music, searching out the source of the illness. There were no notes out of place, nothing to fix.
I frowned and looked closer. The boy's song was mixed with several dozen tiny melodies. After a few moments of staring at the music, I could see where the little ditties had replaced parts of the boy's song. It was subtle, slight variations of what it maybe should have been. I tried changing the parts of the song that had been rearranged, but there wasn't anything really wrong with the song, it was just different.
I sat back and considered this. I'd never removed a portion of a song before. I wasn't even sure I could remove songs. And if I did, I wasn't sure how that would affect the boy. His song would still be changed or removed.
There was no clear way to see how the boy's song was supposed to be, so I could change it, but I had no way of knowing if the changes would help. I realized that the meningitis, caused by a virus, was just as much a living thing with it's own song. Unlike an injury or cancer, the body wasn't wrong, it was losing a battle for the song.
The realization jolted me out of the song. I stood up, shaking.
"What is it?" the mother asked. "Is he better?"
I shook my head. "I'm sorry. It's... I can't help him."
She grabbed my arm and shook me. "What do you mean? You said you could help him!"
I pulled away. "I thought I could. But it's a virus. I don't know how to fix a virus." I searched for a way around the woman so I could escape the hospital room and my failure.
The woman froze, hate spilling from her eyes. "You are a fraud! I should sue you!"
"Mommy?" Tim called from his bed.
The woman's anger left and she rushed to his side.
"Just leave." She threw the words over her shoulder. But I was already on my way out the door.