Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Promise

Suzanne was a pianist. She loved the piano and had done ever since she was about 6 or 7. The sounds she could create with just her fingertips and feet had never ceased to amaze her. She had grown up like most girls, with passions and phases of interest and musical tastes that were varied and different. But one thing that remained consistent was her love of the piano.

When she was 26 years old she had met, by chance, James Edwards. James was in his 60s and was a quiet, gentle man who shared her passion for the piano. They had met at an invite only recital by Philip Mead and had begun talking and later had become friends, their connection being their love of their music.

James saw something in Suzanne that pleased him and one day he offered to show her how to create her own beautiful music. As they talked he had held her hands in his own, as they sat over the keyboard and he said to her “From these hands you can create life itself, music people will travel miles to listen to. However, there has to be discipline in this. A focus and a commitment that goes beyond what you have known before”.

Suzanne had been unsure of what he meant but as her learning progressed she realised that the music that James could teach her was music from his very heart and was untainted by outside influences. James lived alone, he had never married and he had limited interests beyond his music. His focus, his love and his energy went into his piano and in Suzanne he had seen a fellow spirit, somebody who could make music just as beautiful as he did.

Together they created music that was beautiful, sweet and tender. Music that made people smile and laugh and cry. One day James said to Suzanne, “I need you to promise me that this music we make will be your focus. Promise me that while you will listen to other music you will never allow it to become a part of this. Keep your mind and soul on what we create together. Make that vow for me and I will continue to make this music with you.”

Suzanne promised and for years they continued together. Only friends, never a romance and never more than bound by their music. But bound they were.

Years later and Suzanne heard from a friend of hers. A guy she had dated briefly back at college. His name was Joseph and he had recently moved back to her city. They met for coffee and Joseph had changed from how Suzanne remembered him. He was flamboyant, confident, smiling and his hair was long. He had tattoos and jewellery and he was now the guitarist in a rock band. They were playing a gig that weekend and Joseph asked Suzanne to come. She thought about it and shook her head. “I’m sorry, me and James are writing music now. We have a concert soon. I need to remain focussed.”

Joseph smiled broadly, his mischievous grin and laid a ticket on the table. “That’s a VIP pass to the show. If you come great, if you don’t then no hard feelings”.

They stood up to leave and Joseph hugged her, his shirt was open and Suzanne could feel the warmth of his chest. He kissed her and she blushed. “Stop kissing me like that” she said, and then giggled in spite of herself. 

Joseph smiled again and said “Please come, it would be lovely if you did”.

Suzanne thought about this for a few days. She worked with James on their latest piece, the clock ticking loudly in James’s study and on the Friday when she went home she decided that she would go to Joseph’s concert. After all, her promise to James meant that she should not let other styles influence her music. She was a disciplined person and would simply go to see an old friend play with his band.

So, for the first time in many years, Suzanne went beyond her normal life and saw Joseph. His band were brilliant and the songs took her back to the passions she had felt at 17 when she had heard music like this. Loud and joyous. Her heart soared as she listened to the music and her skin tingled. It reawakened something within her that she had never known was sleeping. The three hours that the concert lasted for seemed to fly by and the final encore she met Joseph backstage and he hugged her, thanked her for coming and introduced her to his band. There was Peter the bassist whose hair was even longer than Joseph’s and who had a diamond in one of his front teeth. Then there was Nadir, the drummer. A huge man with big arm muscles and a beard. And also the singer, Margarita an olive skinned Brazilian woman who was very short but sang like an angel. 

Joseph and the band went to eat after the concert and Suzanne came too. She thought they would choose a high class, 5 star place but they went to Nadir’s favourite Korean restaurant. They laughed and joked until the early hours of the morning and Suzanne enjoyed every minute. 

Joseph walked her home and said, “Thank you for coming, it’s been lovely to see you. I hope you come again. We’re playing here in a few months”.

Suzanne smiled and kissed Joseph goodnight. “Thank you” she said. “I had the time of my life”. Suzanne went to bed feeling wonderful, her body and mind almost buzzing with the thrill of what she’d seen.

The next day she thought a lot about the concert and seeing Joseph again, the meal and the time they’d spent together with his friends. 

But then Suzanne found she couldn’t focus on her music so much now. At home and with James she was distracted, her mind wandering to the music she’d heard. James didn’t know what was wrong and she said she wasn’t feeling very well. A week passed and she was so distracted that James told her to take some time off and get better. 

Finally she realised that to keep her promise to James she had to be disciplined. The thrill of spending time with Joseph and the different type of music that he played, the music that excited her and made her forget time and live in the moment…that was a betrayal of her the vow she had given James. Until James and her went their separate ways, she realised it wasn’t fair to betray him by seeing Joseph’s band. It would become such a distraction that it would stop her from making her music and that would break James’s heart. 

With sadness she declined Joseph’s invitation to the next concert and said “I will never stop wanting to know you but I cannot live in two worlds. x”.

As the months passed Suzanne regained her discipline and her music regained its beauty and James was pleased with her work, never knowing the real reason for her temporary lapse.

Every so often Suzanne would hear Joseph’s music or music like his and her skin would tingle and she would feel the passion rise again. But she kept those feelings down.

She had made a promise.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Hexagon

It’s been a while. I haven’t come this way for many months. My old world of dreams and adventures, love and fear, solutions and victories was destroyed by my own will a long time ago. There was only one survivor of that fantasy place. Someone I fully intended to erase from my dreams along with everything and everyone else in that wonderful, vivid yet outgrown realm of my childhood, adolescence and most of my adult life.

But when the moment came and the world was ripped apart, ready to be rebuilt from the void and vacuum of what had been, I saw her and all my willpower and resolve melted in a heartbeat. I took her out of there with me. Not the real person but the original dream. The one that came from the roots and flowers of my initial love and lust. The gorgeous one. The one that has been there since I first met her real life counterpart. 

I know she made it out, I saw her as I woke up, the dream world fading away and reality intruding like sharpened sticks into my eyes. 

But I haven’t seen her since. 

Now, months later I am in a room with many doors. It’s a new place I haven’t seen before. It smells of Greek tavernas in August. It is wonderful and bright. There are flowers and expensive carved chairs. The room is many sided. I stand there and look around. It’s hexagonal. Weird. I know without being told (after all, this is my dream) that the room is not connected “really” to anywhere. It’s an interim. A linking point. A place where someone could step out of their own dream space and come here. A place to talk. A place to make love. A place to be with someone that you can’t see in your own world.

I stand there for a few moments. The room is incredibly peaceful. I can feel the warmth and tranquility soothing my cynical soul, my eyelids momentarily flutter withe sleepiness. I shake my head to erase the lethargy. Then I look around the room again.

There are six doors  to this room. The one I came out of, a red door opposite mine and four others. A hexagon. Something similar to the room I created in my first kids’ book. Well, all dream states have to spring from some well of the imagination, I guess.

As I’m standing there, I hear a key turning and the red door opens inwards. She comes through it. I haven’t dreamed of her in 3 months but as usual she makes my heart stutter, my breath pause in my throat and my stomach fill with butterflies. She glances at me, her face unreadable then turns and closes the door behind her. Then she turns to face me. She’s as beautiful as I remember her. Everything about her pulls at my soul. I look at her for a moment, savouring the vision then I clear my throat “It’s good to…”

Before I can finish she takes two or three steps towards me and slaps me hard across the face. My head jerks back and I turn to look at her. “What…?” but before I can continue she take my face in both hands and kisses me deeply. When she pulls away I am utterly confused. She smiles, half angry, then says. “You’re not the only one who’s hurting”. 

I am lost for words and just stare at her, the kiss lingering and my cheek stinging. She kisses me again and then steps back. 

“I love you…” I manage to say.

She smiles again and her brown eyes shine. “I love you too”.

As I stare, confused beyond belief, I am distracted by a sound. The doorway to my left. It’s disconnecting from the room. When it goes, it can never be put back. I just know this. After all, it’s my dream. The doorway fades and in its place is smooth brickwork, no different to the rest of the wall. Then another detaches, falling into the oblivion of the dream nether. Finally there are only two left. Mine and hers. When hers goes mine will be alone, destined to disappear the moment I return to the waking world. One corridor is not enough to support this place. Unity and karma dictate there must be at least two.

I sigh and look at her. I don’t want her to see me cry so say quickly, “I guess it’s time to go. I’ll never stop loving you. Have a beautiful life”.

She shakes her head and smiles “You still don’t get it do you? This isn’t your dream, it’s mine”.

I step towards her, my emotions rolling like a tsunami inside me and she puts her arms around me, kissing me again and then she steps back and through her door. It closes behind her and the key turns in the lock. 

But the doorway doesn’t fade away.

I smile, finally understanding, and turn back to my own doorway. As I step through my eyes open in reality and I’m in bed, the air conditioning humming and the cicadas noisily chirruping outside. The sun has come up and the day is already warm.

I lay there for a while and then make my way into today.

Nights later, I dreamed my way back to the room once again. She wasn't there but her doorway was. On the table was a small envelope. A beautiful cream vellum, and in exquisite handwriting on the front it read “Cannot be opened until after August 2029”.