The “Weekly Writing Challenge : 1000 Words” – Cheri Lucas Rowlands at the Daily Post has challenged us to write something inspired by one of her gallery photos. I chose this one, which she had labeled “Emptiness.” It’s not quite 1000 words, so I hope that will be ok. It’s a great photo for inspiration.
Click, clack, click clack. The sound of her boots echoes as she walks. Then she stops. She sets down the black bag she carries and crouches in the corner as she puts together her instrument. The light is fading a little bit, and a light breeze picks up the edge of her scarf. She closes her eyes and imagines how it begins…
She blows a little warm air through the flute, matching the pitch of the wind. It begins in c minor…the saddest of all keys. Beginning on the C, then up a fifth. Yes, hold the fifth before ascending to the Ab. The melody flows downward then, the silvery notes following the shape of the arches, yes…go ahead and play the E natural. But bring back the Eb in the next phrase. She stays in the lower register, warming up, not wanting to spoil the resonance with a cracked note. No vibrato, at least not at first. It comes later, like the leaf that the wind is carrying across the stone floor.
As she plays, she thinks fondly of those days, when there was always someone to play a duet with, or not, as she chose. When she spent 7 or 8 hours at this, but not like this, not just playing her thoughts. She was attempting the works of the masters, her biggest worry were the juries at semester’s end, playing under the scrutinizing eyes of all her professors. It’s nicer like this, she thinks. To play freely, to practice some of the music of the masters, but not for a concert, just to become better at it. She changes to a major key now. In those days she couldn’t imagine being this age, but now, she can’t imagine being so young. To not appreciate the beauty around you, to think that the test at the end was the end. It’s the sadness and happiness of growing older, she thought. Being able to take care of yourself, having the advantage of the lessons learned in those younger days but yearning for the carefree spirit of those days. Finally knowing what it was she loved most in life.
She pictures his face then, the one with whom she’d spent more than half her life now. More handsome than the day they’d met. How many things had they seen together? How many people had flown in and out of their lives while they remained constant and together they loved some of these, and tolerated others. They missed some and barely remembered others. Some remained for a long time, and others for an instant, but through it all they remained faithful. He was a part of her, and she a part of him.
There were many things left to do together. She plays an ascending arpeggio, finally reaching that higher register. No cracked notes, smoothly, boldly, not that shy girl from so many years before. She stops, holds the Eb at the top, lets it fade to nothing. Then softly, she begins a descending scale, approaching a major mode on the way down. She makes a crescendo in the descent, landing firmly on the lowest C. She lets it fade, she stops for a moment. Another leaf blows across the ground, creating a soft percussion. She lowers the flute for a moment and closes her eyes. The wind has picked up a bit and she re-ties her scarf.
How amazing this place is. The emptiness surrounds her, and allows her to think. There is nobody around listening (that she knows of anyway) but my goodness the acoustics are marvelous! She looks at her watch. Oh! She has to go. She is meeting him for dinner and afterwards there will be a play at the theater downtown. Just a couple more minutes…she picks up her flute and plays just one verse of the Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts”, a joyful melody. She puts her flute away, lovingly wiping away the fingerprints. She checks her bag to make sure the card she’d made for him is there. Then, she picks up her smartphone and types a text to him: “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart. I’ll see you in 15 minutes.”
She walks quickly down the corridor under the arches, the ends of her scarf blowing behind her.