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.