Lawrence’s apartment had no music.
It didn’t matter how much music the neighbors played. None of it got into Lawrence’s apartment, and even music that someone played in his apartment would have been reduced to silence.
Silas, who was a mouse that lived in the walls of Lawrence’s apartment, certainly knew that. Often, with an aria from a neighbor’s stereo system fresh in his ears, he would sing in a perfect tenor, but the noise would disappear if he sung in Lawrence’s apartment.
Lawrence had met Silas six months before, when Lawrence’s partner Carter passed away. Carter had been a top concert pianist, and Silas would lose himself in Carter’s playing. With Carter gone, any note of music was a dart in his chest, and every measure was a knife in his heart.
Being that Lawrence was an architect who had designed a perfect concert hall as a labor of love to Carter--an architectural plan that was now standard in many music schools--he was an expert in acoustics. He figured out a way to soundproof his apartment, so that the insulation in the walls blocked out any music from adjacent apartments. It also blocked out any music that emanated from his own apartment, filtering out even so much as the humming of a tune, while at the same time allowing speech to flow freely.
When Lawrence met Silas, he remembered Carter’s love of all creatures, and couldn’t bring himself to set traps for Silas, so he agreed to let him live there, provided he picked up after himself and kept his family to an even dozen.
“I shall eat any extra children,” said Silas.
“No, um...you don’t have to do that,” said Lawrence. “Just try to keep it close to that amount.”
Silas honored Lawrence’s request, and his family did more than pick up after themselves. They actually picked up Lawrence’s apartment, keeping it clean and making it shine. Yet now, when they cleaned the apartment, they talked with longing sadness of the times before Carter’s passing.
“Music used to fill this apartment,” said Silas. “In fact, if you close your eyes and listen, you can hear that music.”
Silas’s children closed their eyes.
“Hey,” said Ian, who was the littlest of Silas’s children, “I can still hear the music.”
The rest of the children nodded their heads, and Silas’s face brightened.
“The insulation that he created to absorb the sound,” said Silas, "of course."
The insulation, it turned out, absorbed sounds, but didn’t send them anywhere. They stayed in the insulation, tethered by enchanted cotton threads that Carter had bought him when he had performed for the enchanted Vizier of Almandra.
Now Silas and his family chewed through those strings all at once, freeing all the music that all the neighbors had sent Lawrence all this time, note after note of love for Carter, gone, but never forgotten. And as the music flowed into the apartment, Lawrence cried, remembering, really remembering, the joy that Carter’s music had given him.
From that day forward, Lawrence kept the door to his apartment open, inviting all of his neighbors in for informal get togethers. And as the music flowed into the walls that no longer trapped it, Silas and his family listened as note after note filled the walls with melodies, harmonies, and rhythms.