The city of music was more regulated than Cedar had expected. There was a way to do everything, and everything had a way to do it. Music spilled out of the buildings and washed over the streets, tumbled recklessly out of the people and more gently out of the trees that lined the streets like lines on a staff. Each leaf was a tiny bell, and every breeze pulled melody out of them. Cedar wasn’t musical, but that was okay, that was part of the plan. She’d walk past people and catch them looking after her, their heads cocked in appraisal of her silence. Once, a man came up to her and complimented her on it. He had a voice like a tambourine, jangly and insistent.
She stopped to watch a woman dancing on her way out of town. The dancer had long dark hair and bells tied around her arms. She kept her eyes closed when she danced, and that was what caught Cedar, the petty hope that she’d crash into somebody or something and jar the whole city with the discord. The dance was perfect, though, wild and free. “What dance was that?” Cedar asked when it was over.
The dancer shrugged, bells ringing. “I don’t know,” she said.
One of the other citizens laughed. “The sixteenth dance,” he said. “Long journeys and disbelief.” His voice was flat and final, like a door closing, or the moment of silence at the end of a concert.