Friday, October 21, 2011

Short Story: It Was

It's been far too long since I've written one of these. I'm needing to work out my writing muscles a bit. This is, after all, supposed to be WRITING blog =P
So, here's something I came up with while watching a movie. Enjoy =)
                                             It Was

It was a comfortable night. The kind of night you sit with your best friend or a mug of cocoa, knowing that you won’t fall asleep, and not caring in the least. It was that sort of night in November when a girl and boy sat in a café, counting the number of cars passing by the window which was covered in beads of mist. The girl wore a sweet frock, comfortable as you please, and the boy wore a sweater rolled up to his elbows.

Everything was at ease, and it was pleasant. The world felt as though it had never shifted much, the café was all that mattered. The owner of the café was a nice man with an Italian name and accent, and he was busy, polishing his prized antique silver plate, thinking how grand it was to own such a thing and how good his costumers were.

The Italian knew all those seated in his café by one thing or another. Some he knew by name, others by their face or a particular trait he had noticed. The boy and the girl seated by the window had come in a few times; their conversation was always varied, from trite bits of information, to the placement of the soul within the human being, and why MacDonald was the master at backhanded learning. Sometimes they were completely silent, but it was never uneasy. It was warm and quiet and thoughtful, which had been the intended nature of the café.

There were others that night. The Scarf Lady, who was always jotting down notes between sips of her café au lait; the Italian surmised she must be a spy or a journalist, or a mystery writer at least. There was the old, black couple whose soft laughter and hard hands told a story without words. Then there was Ernie, the bus driver on 47th street. He always came to the café after his shift and took his coffee back to his “house on wheels” as he called it. The Italian liked Ernie; he was always looking on the bright side of things.

The girl in the sweet frock was looking out at the rain falling lightly under the streetlights, as light as powdered snow, and the boy was slathering some jam and butter across his third muffin when the girl suddenly gasped. She turned, facing nowhere, listening hard. “What’s this song?”
“I don’t know,” the boy answered; now listening as well.

The song strained softly through the speakers, first with light flute, then wild but hushed violin.
“Oh, I’ve got to find out!” The girl said, her eyes snapped with the boys and he, transfixed by the music, nodded. He rose and walked to the counter. “Sir,” he asked the Italian, “What is the name of this song?”

“I don’t know!” The Italian tuned his ear to the song, floating through the café. It was indeed remarkable. It was filled with knowledge, but questions, with a little sight, but hope of much more. It was wild, and sweet, and intense, and he knew he would want to listen to it again as soon as it was over. Quickly, he ran to the radio. Jonathan, the soundboard slash kitchen boy had just changed the station.

“Jonathan!” The Italian asked, “What is the name of the song they’re playing?”

Jonathan shrugged, “I don’t know!” He saw the Italian sigh. Perhaps it was an old love song. “I could call the station. They could probably tell me.”

“Call them!”

Jonathan picked up the receiver, and a thrill shot up his spine as the notes vibrated through the café. Powerful, old, strange, and sweet, like a familiar battle hymn he had always known. He dialed with fervor.

The station switchboard man, half asleep with yesterday’s newspaper across his chest was listening lazily to the silence surrounding him. He wore his headphones around his neck and kept those on low. He heard enough music throughout the day. The phone rang and shocked him into existence. He blinked a few times in succession before casting aside the paper and picking up. When he did, he heard a strangely excited voice on the line.

A young man asked if he had the correct station for his area. The switchboard man said yes. “Do you know what song is playing right now?” The question was asked as though the asker should know, as though everyone should know, but didn’t.

The switchboard man wrinkled his brow. “What?” He asked, a little taken aback.

“The song! What is it? We can’t figure it out! It’s not Beethoven, it’s not Johann, and it’s not Bach. It’s different… listen!”

So the switchboard man listened. He put on his headphone with one ear. Then two. It was superb. It was beautiful! Once emerged in it, he really didn’t want to pull himself away from the music and back to the phone. The only thing that made the pain of separation worth it was the thought that the song might be sought out and repeated. “Hang on,” he said anxiously through the phone.

The café had turned into a music hall. Everyone paused, no, stopped to listen to the hauntingly lovely notes. It was almost painful to listen to them! It swelled like an oceans wave, and stretched out its hand to touch your heart. You heard it coming, and you almost felt it! But before it could grab you and dissolve you into the world where it belonged, a sweet, wonderful, strange and strangely familiar world that we can’t reach, it would melt away again, back into the sweet ocean where it belonged. The girl sat with her eyes drifting from the rain, to the eyes of the boy, and to the Italian who stared hard at the counter. Ernie quietly sipped his coffee, as though drinking the song itself. The black couple seemed to have tears in parts of their eyes. The Scarf lady seemed anxious, her pen flying furiously across the page as though to capture the song, and defy its specter-like enigma.

It was ending. No one wanted to say it, but they could all feel it. The switchboard man had unplugged his headphones and let the room fill unabashed with the song. But as soon as he had done so, he felt that he had betrayed its magic. He quickly plugged the headphones back in. He had just finished calling Jonathan.
Jonathan hung up the phone. “They can’t find it,” he said quietly.

The switchboard man had called the station manager. The station manager called the music company. The music company returned the call saying that the song had been issued by an artist, a great artist who wished to remain anonymous. Upon his death, he requested that this song be played once, just once. It had been released that afternoon to be played. The lone copy of the song was to be buried alongside him the next day. It was already sealed in the coffin. The station manager called the switchboard man. The switchboard man called Jonathan. Jonathan sighed. The song was nearly over. He would listen to the last overtures, soaking in the last bits of the tune as though it were the last drops of water he would ever drink. The girl sighed. The boy felt strange and strong and warrior-like, with the heart of a Rembrandt poet underneath his tawny skin.

It was over. The last notes drifted out to sea. The kindly ghost left a trail of a smile in the corners of everyone’s eyes.

“That broke my heart,” said the black man.

“But it was the right sort of breaking. It was breaking our hearts to tell us they need to be mended. One day we will face it again and dive into it, being estranged from it no more. We won’t ever hear it again, but it was meant to be that way. To hear it again would be sacrilege. It was beautiful for tonight. It was…”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wakeful Poedise

Ah! Fall. Thy leaves fall in ember tones beneath my feet.
The air is sharp to the touch
I am pricked with its cold.
Oh odd feeling, fluttering between my lungs
explain yourself.
What are you?
Who are you standing there
in autumned shadows
Burnt on Summer's bright wings.
Is it cold you bring to my heart?
Or the memories of something colder.
The old things, the dear old things
are gone from my eyes.
The light grows dimmer each day
Night gathering a larger appetite.
It eats more of the fair sun than I
care to admit.
In my room,
I shut the blinds
and without blankets
mine arms are cold.
What will the future bring?
Dear LORD,
show me thy plans.
I am full of wakeful wonderings
Almost to a pain.
I remember things again.
I remember standing there
Wanting to ask questions
but loath to speak.
And now, it is all past.
I could let my burning lungs collapse with a grateful sigh!
But the air will not leave.
It is true I said goodbye.
But last year lingers in my bones
as I wonder what the future holds.
The old year's face
still burns my eyes
till they shine with tears.
Oh darling Spring,
come ever near
straight through Fall
from within Winter's heart!

Popular Posts