1.3 Sofia (The Middle)


“That was a beautiful piece,” she said, and her blue eyes made my head swim. “What is it?”

All thoughts in my head skidded to a halt. What was I playing? Was it some sort of Bach or one of those Mozart’s?

She noticed my hesitation and laughed. “It’s alright. I don’t really care what it’s called. I just wanted to talk to you.”

Which, of course, made me blush like a fool.

She loved music, she told me. She would have been a musician if her parents hadn’t disagreed. Her sister, Elsa, was naturally more intelligent than her, while she was more of the trouble child.

I listened to all her problems. I listened to her hopes, her dreams, her fears and worries, her idle thoughts and taste in ice cream.

I listened and didn’t say much. If she needed a friendly ear then I was happy to provide. About a month or so after she first approached me, she watched as I finished a Handel piece with merely acceptable skill. When I was done she said, “I never thought to ask. What’s your name?”

And with the question came a memory.


We were stargazers, all of us, when my mother was still with us. One night we were stargazing together, my mother and I, and she pointed out the constellations one by one. “Winter,” she said, “Do you see that constellation there?”

This was not the first time she had asked me that, nor would it be the last. But ever so close to the last, so close. I nodded, the grass below my head tangling in my hair.

“That’s Leo,” she said, and though I had heard this story many times already, I still listened. “I wanted to name you for it because it was so clear on the night you were born, but your father wanted to name you Winter instead, because you were born in winter.” She smiled. “He was always so straightforward.”

The next time she told me the story was as she lay dying, her fingers skimming through my hair as she smiled. Bedridden, she could not see the stars except through the corner of her window, but she had told me to open the window and look outside. “Do you see the constellation there?” she had asked.

She died the day after, and we burnt her body and scattered her ashes along a river.

A few years later, I packed my bags and left myself, leaving my father to his alcoholic fate.

Since coming back here, I had thought, in those hazy moments before sleep, that I should start over with a new name. A new life. I never entertained the thought in my waking hours since I hadn’t had to give my name to anyone until now. But if the girl in front of me wasn’t who I wanted to start my new life with, the one I wanted to tell my new name to, then who was?

I met Sofia’s gaze and tried to smile, though my stomach was tying itself into knots, trapping whatever fluttering thing was in it from escaping.

“Leo,” I told her. “Leo Winter.”

8 thoughts on “1.3 Sofia (The Middle)

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