By: John E. Murray, III
What thoughts...What ideas...What visions are forming...shaping... solidifying?
What am I thinking? She's probably just tired. Yeah, that's it, tired.
"Look at her again," my inner voice says. "Does she really look tired?"
Well, she could be. A concert takes so much out of me, and I'm just a member of the audience. And, Frank...
"What about Frank?"
He's always sweating after conducting and seems at least somewhat exasperated.
"Well, here it is," a soft soothing voice says.
"Huh? What?" I say aloud.
"Here's my car," Melody says rather quietly.
"Great! You've walked the entire distance back and still have not said a word!" my inner voice shouts.
"Sorry," I say looking beyond her into the darkness. Slowly, I turn my head toward her. She is holding the car door handle with her left hand and her oboe case with her right. She still has not opened the door. She is biting her lower lip and staring...staring right past me.
"What?" Melody asks, continuing her blank stare.
What does that look mean? What is she staring at? Is there something back there?
"Sorry, I wasn't very talkative," I say moving around a little, my head turning left, right, and left again. "I guess I'm just tired."
"Um, yeah, me too," Melody responds. She shakes her head a little and lifts up the handle on her door. "I guess I'm very tired. I should be going...home," she adds hesitating on her last words. She opens the door partially and places her case on the back seat, closing the door just enough so the light goes off.
"She's leaving," my inner voice says. "Again!"
"Yeah," I say aloud, trying to shake off my own cloudy thoughts. "It's rather late, and I have some writing to do yet." Melody seems to pick up her head. She stares at me somewhat inquisitively as I finish my sentence.
"I'll see you later," I say. "Maybe we all could have lunch one of the days you tutor."
"Good one," my little voice says.
Melody smiles and begins to laugh slightly. "Would we have some of the 'soup' I've heard so much about?"
"Only if you're not lucky," I say joining Melody in her laughter.
"Beautiful," I whisper as my laughter dissipates and I continue to gaze at Melody.
"What?" Melody asks becoming somewhat quieter and blushing slightly.
"Um, nothing," I say, not realizing I was that loud.
I'm just going to say 'good-night', turn around, and leave.
"What are you going to write?" Melody asks shyly.
"What?" I respond.
"You said that you have some writing to do," Melody says swallowing hard. "What are you going to write about?" Her eyes widen as I gaze directly into them.
"Um," I say shaking my head, "I usually try to write about the music. There are so many images and visions. I try to get some of them down before they fade or blend."
"Oh?" Melody says sounding somewhat inquisitive, yet searching for what to say next.
"But, tonight," I say attempting to find the right words myself. "Tonight, most of them have disappeared or changed. It's the time lapse. It's too long." I smile as if amused by this little explanation.
"Changed?" Melody says. "How have they changed?"
"OK," my inner voice says, "how are we going to get out of this one?"
"Well," I say attempting to moisten the inside of my very dry mouth, "you don't 'hear' a piece the same way when you first play it at practice as you do when you perform it for an audience, do you?"
Melody shakes her head, smiles, and says, "No," seemingly waiting for more.
"It's like that," I continue. "In the beginning, your view of the music is basic, simple, pure. You try to look for the right way to perform it, so you experiment slightly each time you practice." I look at Melody with the hope that she is understanding this analogy, even though I'm not completely sure about its validity.
"Yes," she says nodding her head and smiling, still seeming to expect more.
"It's also like that when I write," I say moving my hands up and down and side to side as I continue to gaze at her. "When I hear 'good' music, I try to write down the images almost immediately in the hopes of capturing some of the music's purity. It's always those first, simple images that help bring life to my poems."
"But, how would the images change?" Melody asks.
"Well, just as you expand on your musical interpretation and play it differently, sometimes only slightly differently from when you first played it, the ideas I get from the music have a chance to blend with the other images in my head..." I stop and rap my head with my knuckles as if knocking on a door.
Melody smiles. "Isn't that good?" she asks giggling. "Don't you get longer pieces of writing that way?"
"Well, yes and no," I say trying to come up with some further explanation. "The simplicity of the original thoughts is usually lost within the expanded ideas. Then, the images which should give the piece its life, fade into what confounds so much of modern literature, its supposed 'deeper meaning.'"
"What do you mean 'supposed'?" Melody asks biting her lower lip.
"Let's see," I say still searching for a phrase. "Oh, yes. Freud once said, 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' Sometimes, when a poet writes about a tree, he is just writing about a tree, not about the plight of humanity, nor the stages of life, but a tree. It's when people start 'thinking' about a poem before 'reading' it, or even 'listening' to a piece of music before 'hearing' it, do they miss its initial beauty, its purity."
"So, you don't usually include a deeper meaning in your writing?" Melody asks seeming somewhat confused and concerned.
But, why? Why does she seem confused? Why is she asking about my writing? Why am I rambling on as if teaching a class?
"Actually," I say blushing, "I usually have a deeper meaning. However, when I write down the initial phrases or the first few lines, sometimes even an entire rough draft, I'm not thinking about what certain words could mean. Only after I revise, and revise, and revise, does the full piece come together. Most of the time...well, usually... OK, sometimes."
I look at Melody, shake my head, and shrug my shoulders. "To tell you the truth," I say, "I just hope that something hits me in the head and says, 'this is the deeper meaning.' Then, I will not have to revise the piece. " I laugh a little and look at Melody.
She smiles and nods her head. Her body shakes briefly as if chilled.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I've babbled on about my personal views on writing and let you stand out here freezing."
"I'm fine," Melody says smiling. "So, have you written anything recently?" She adds quickly still smiling.
OK, do I play along? Do I lie and say, 'no, nothing especially good'?
My inner voice says, "You should probably..."
"I wrote on some students' papers the other day, does that count?" I say sheepishly shrugging my shoulders.
"You know what I mean," Melody says, this time blushing as her eyes widen and a look of concern wonders over her beautiful face. It's a look that says, 'I might be wrong. I'll go a little further then drop it.'
"Tell her something. Make something up," my little voice instructs me.
"Um," I say blushing and hesitating for what seems at least an hour. "Why do you ask?" My eyes widen and a half smile, half frown forms on my face.
"What are you doing?" my inner voice shouts. "Say, 'no,' 'good-bye,' then leave!"
"I was, um, just wondering," Melody says. "Um, actually..." She stops and puts her right hand in her pocket, moving it around as if searching for something.
A cold breeze blows through the parking lot, and I shiver even though my face is burning with concern. I swallow, hoping that my mouth will moisten, will loosen up, will move. There are many different levels of thought, concern, words, to be communicated, but I am not able to verbalize anything.
I'm acting childish. I should say something, before...before...
"Well, I received something in the mail the other day," Melody says as she manages to pull out a folded piece of white paper from her pocket. She pauses and stares at me.
As she unfolds the paper, I say, "And...?"
"And, I was wondering if you really sent it," Melody says finishing a thought rather that answering the intended question.
I shake my head quickly and say, "No, no...I mean, yes. What I'm trying to say is..." I take a deep breath and hope to start my speech over.
I smile and continue, "What I'm trying to say, if my mouth and brain can work together for a few seconds here, is, um, I..." I pause again. Then add, "May I see it?"
Sheepishly, Melody hands me the paper. I look it over and smile. The rush, the sensation, the inspiration, comes back to me as I close my eyes for just a few seconds. I pick up my head, opening my eyes wide as I hand the piece back to her.
Still smiling, I take another deep breath and look at her. She is waiting for some sort of response.
"I wrote that," I say. "But, I was hoping you wouldn't get it so soon."
Melody has a look of puzzlement on her face, but says nothing.
"It was just something I wrote...about..." I pause, still debating whether to tell her the entire truth, yet. "I wrote it after your first concert."
Well, that's half right.
"Oh?" Melody says looking confused.
"And, after you visited my class," I say, my smile becoming even wider than before. I feel myself moving closer to her.
"Oh?" Melody reiterates, this time looking more tentative.
"Just as the music inspires me to write, I attempt to capture the essence from other things as well."
"Like?" Melody says as if understanding more than I have actually said.
"Well," I say, hesitating again, hoping to choose the right words. "Well, I use objects and...and people. If someone inspires me, in one way or another, I try to give them a copy of the piece or pieces."
Melody's smile becomes larger as she seems to be waiting for more.
"Anywho, I used you and your solo as an inspiration. That poem is a result of the inspiration." I swallow hard and continue hesitating though somewhat less than before. "When I heard your solo that night, then finally got to meet you, my mind raced and expanded. It was amazing!" I smile, look at Melody, and laugh a little.
"It wasn't until you 'played' Juliet, did I finally let the images take form. I wrote down ideas and images between the two times, but when you...when I...when we..."
"Yes?" Melody asks innocently blinking her eyes as her gaze widens.
I look at her, smile, then frown. "I'm sorry...I..." I pause and just stare, unable to come up with words that will escape from my mouth.
"I'm flattered," Melody says. "But..."
Great! There's a 'but.' I knew it. She's seeing someone. Or, she's not interested in someone like me; someone short; someone lacking in one-liners; someone lacking in needed spoken words.
Melody's eyes have become larger, rounder, and have compacted a few times during my self dismissal. She says, "But, why me?"
"I know, I'm sorry to...have..." I pause and shake my head quickly. "Why you? Why you?" I pause and stare at Melody. She nods her head innocently.
Do I tell her that I asked myself the very same question? Do I tell her anything? Do I tell her the guys coaxed me into sending it? What do I say?
"You know, if you would have listened," my little voice says sarcastically.
Then what? I would still be wondering and hitting myself over the head and a few other spots for missing this emotionally draining, thought provoking, intoxicatingly inspirational, experience.
"I still don't understand," Melody says softly as she leans against her car.
"I'm sorry," I say waiting for the words. "Um, well, I'll be honest with you. I thought about why I was being inspired by you. For the first time ever, I questioned an inspiration. And, I'm not too sure why."
I look at Melody hoping for some form of nonverbal response. The only thing I can sense is her attentiveness to what I am saying.
I continue, "I have had very little outward sensation lately, and for a poet, or rather a verser, who draws from others in order to compose, this is not positive. So, the recent surge was welcomed, immensely. I wrote down ideas, knowing I would get back to them later. It was only after that day in my class, did I reason out what makes you diff..." I stop short and look at Melody. I smile and look into her eyes.
"...what makes you special. Each time I see your large, beautiful eyes reflecting, glistening, radiating, I feel that great sensation of inspiration. It's incredible!"
Did I just say that, aloud?
My heart pumps faster. My face becomes redder (if that's possible). My mind wonders as I search for an appropriate analogy.
"It's like...it's like..."
Though I am excited, elated, and want to tell her the inspiration is like being stalled on a train track with a train coming, and you are able to start the car and jolt forward just as the locomotive zooms past, horns blaring. Or it's like having a baby smile at you even though you haven't done anything. And, it could even be like feeling the eyes of a thousands, no millions, of people staring at you as you sing or even play the Star-Spangled Banner at the Olympics.
Instead, I just grin and think a while longer.
"When the inspiration is strong and positive, it's kind of like what we were discussing in the restaurant."
Melody has an intrigued but uncomprehending look on her face.
Without waiting for an actual response, I continue my analogy, "When a student realizes what you have been trying to get across to him for an entire class period, a light clicks on and his eyes light up. Your job then seems that much easier, that much better, that much more worth it."
I smile and hope Melody has understood somehow, even through my verbal ramblings.
Melody stares at me with a smile on her face. Then she says, "I think I understand what an inspiration might feel like for you, but why me? I'm not..." She pauses.
I beg her with my eyes and thoughts, not to finish her thought.
"I just...well, I'm...me," Melody says noticeably and understandably searching for words. "I mean, I'm just not sure. No one has ever written a poem for me, let alone about me." She bites her lower lip and looks at me as if waiting for a response of some sort.
"Don't ever underestimate the beauty others might see in you," I say as I blush and a half smile forms on my face. I move closer to her and the urge to hold her hand crosses my mind just as it did in the restaurant.
I let the urge pass somehow and proceed to speak again. "I think the poem tries to say so much of what I find beau...inspiring about you. Besides, I owed you something for playing such a beautiful solo. Poetry is one of the ways I can compensate for that." I'm not too sure of my movement, but I feel even closer to Melody than before.
"I enjoyed the poem very much. Thank you," Melody says averting her gaze downward. "In fact, I had thought that Frank was playing a joke on me or something. You know how Frank is. So, I tried to find the poem in some books I have at home, as well as others in the library. I even looked on the Internet. No one had seen it before." She picks up her head slightly and stares at me.
So many words and lines run through my mind: 'Well, they've never seen someone so beautiful'; 'They had its source right in front of them'; 'others have seen the idea before, just not in those words, not in that particular way, not with your visage.'
The only response I manage to verbalize, however, is, "If Frank was playing a trick, you could have just opened an English text book and it would have been the first poem in there." I laugh outwardly slightly, but inside, inside, I'm throwing myself against a wall.
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Melody says smiling and giggling softly.
We grow silent. The air around us seems to be extremely light, and the darkness seems to be diminishing greatly.
I begin to look around, though I do not seem to be focusing on any object or area.
"So?" Melody says thankfully breaking the silence.
My head snaps back toward her and my eyebrows move up rapidly as if saying, "Yes."
"Ask her out!" my little voice shouts.
I become slightly perturbed at the disturbance from within.
"You said you wrote other things as well," Melody says, seemingly continuing where she started from. Her tongue quickly runs over her red lips, and she brushes back her silky hair with a slow, somewhat instinctive movement of her hand. "Have you written any other poems? Or was it just that one?"
Have I written anything else? Have I written anything else? Of course I have.
"Tell her no. Save them for latter," my inner voice suggests.
"Um, actually," I say reverting to my verbal hesitation instead of babbling. "Actually, I have written a few other pieces, but..."
I pause and look at her again. She is beautiful. She is...
"She's waiting for an answer!" my little voice shouts, not seeming so tiny any more.
"But they don't really capture exactly what I'm fee...thinking," I say hoping to avoid any further embarrassment. "The first one doesn't really capture everything about you, just one point. The other poems I've worked on try to do the same thing. They seem to have blended more, however."
Yeah, they try, but nothing could...
"Do you remember any? Or do you have any with you?" Melody inquires rather innocently.
Do I have any? Do I remember any?
"Not really," I hear myself saying as I attempt to moisten my lips, hoping not to sound too dry and pitiful.
Melody's eyes are angled downward again and a look of disappointment forms on her face.
"I think I remember most of the one I had written immediately after I sent you this poem," I say pointing to the paper she is still clutching in her delicate hand.
"If I remember correctly, I tried to tie into the music more for a slightly better flow." I hold up my thumb and forefinger, slightly parting them directly in front of my squinting eyes as if trying to see what is in between.
Melody picks up her head and brushes back her hair again as a smile replaces the disappointment. "If you don't mind, I'd love to hear it."
"As I looked for this one," Melody says moving the paper upward, "I read quite a few others and found them more enjoyable now than I did in high school and college. I realized, especially through your piece, that poems can say so much."
"And, there are as many meanings as there are readers," I say staring directly into Melody's eyes, searching for some courage in order to go through with this.
"Um, I don't know if I can remember the entire thing," I say, finally breaking my gaze with a slight, but quick twist of my head.
"That's OK," Melody says rather energetically. "Whatever you can remember, I'm sure will be very good."
"Well," I say moving the corners of my mouth from side to side. "Try not to judge it too harshly. It's not really finished yet."
"I'm sure it'll be fine," Melody says as a look of reassurance covers her face.
"I'm sure you'll make a fool of yourself," my inner voice interrupts.
I frown briefly. Then, to spite myself, I say, "OK, but give me a few seconds to recall it."
I take a quick, yet deep look at Melody, turn my head, close my eyes, and attempt to 'see' what I wrote only a few days ago.
I open my eyes, but do not look at her. I say, "The title, I believe is 'Sweet Sounds.’"
I mouth the first few words a couple of times and blink. I pause, squint, and wait a few more seconds. I can actually see the piece as I wrote it. I begin to speak. I hope this is what I wrote, but right now, I'm not too sure because I am still trying to clearly focus on the piece and its layout.
Ravage my inner being
Semblance of sound
Soft luscious lips.
Devouring my very soul
Soft harmonious voice.
I stand motionless and blink a few times. Slowly, the picture of the piece fades. I smile, somewhat satiated.
"So?" I say turning my head toward Melody again.
Her eyes are closed, but they seem to open very quickly as the sound of my voice finally reaches her. She looks so peaceful, so content. I can do nothing except stare.
Melody blushes and shuffles her feet as she realizes I am looking at her. Simultaneously, it seems, we both turn our heads away and clear our throats.
"Could you possibly write that one down for me?" Melody asks softly.
"Sure," I say still fighting the dryness that has settled in my mouth. I am reassured of my sanity, however, as I did not repeat her question this time.
"I was wondering," I say not hesitating one bit and not waiting for my mood to change. "I was wondering, if I were to ask you out for dinner or something, what would you say?" I turn my head to face Melody. My heart is racing. My entire body is burning up.
"When?" She asks before my eyes actually reach hers.
No 'yes,' no 'no,' just 'when'?
"How about Friday? Saturday? Sunday?" My voice trails off with each day.
"Oh, I have practice those nights," Melody says still smiling, yet seeming somewhat disappointed.
"Well, how about next Friday then?" I ask and without waiting for a response, revert to babbling again. "We could go to Kirk's. We roped Frank into playing with Jerry, Joe, and Kirk for the first time. They play jazz and rock, while Frank, well Frank plays how Frank plays. It should be interesting."
"Let me see," Melody says elevating her head slightly and staring upward. She lowers her head after a few seconds and says, "That should be OK. What time?"
"We usually get there around four or five, but we're going to make Frank sweat until about six or so."
"That's right down the street from the school, right?"
"Yes. It's actually just east of there, by that new mini mall."
"Would it be OK if I meet you there?" Melody asks biting her lip seemingly trying to make this work.
"That would be wonderful," I say still not too sure of what is going on or what I am feeling.
"I'll introduce you to the guys. Most of us have been friends since high school. In fact, the same high school Frank and I teach at. Joe plays the drums, Jerry plays the..." I stop and look at Melody.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I was babbling again. You'll meet them next Friday."
"That's OK," Melody says smiling. "I do that myself sometimes."
She babbles? I surely haven't noticed. Then again, I haven't noticed much lately.
I smile and say, "Very well, next Friday it is."
"Next Friday," Melody reiterates almost inaudibly.
We just stand there. I begin looking around hoping for something to break the silence.
I look down and happen to notice the time on my watch. My head does a double take as I bring up my watch closer to my eyes. The big hand and the little hand are very close together at the top of the time piece.
"I'm sorry," I say switching my gaze from my watch to Melody and back again. "I didn't know it was so late."
Melody looks at her own watch and appears to be somewhat surprised herself.
"I had better get going," Melody says softly as she pulls open the car door slightly. "We have a new set tomorrow."
"I know," I mumble, smiling a bit wider.
"What?" Melody says opening the door about three-fourths of the way and moves around it to get in.
Still in somewhat of a daze, I move toward her until we are centimeters apart.
"Thank you very much," I say taking her hand in mine. "I had a wonderful night, especially the last couple of hours."
"So did I," Melody says as her eyes appear to become extremely shinny appearing glassed over.
Holding and now caressing her hand with my thumb, I close my eyes, lean toward her slowly, and attempt to touch her soft cheek with my lips.
I open my eyes slightly when I feel that I am close to my desired destination. I notice and feel Melody's full red lips touch my own. Electricity runs throughout my entire body; a flame ignites within; a soothing cool engulfs me. I close my eyes briefly and enjoy the sensation. My lips know what to do almost instinctively as our embrace continues.
I open my eyes and see that Melody has closed hers. Her eyelids flutter and slowly open. Our intimate gazes meet and the passage of reality ceases.
I slowly begin to realize what I had just done. My eyes widen and my lips contract and stopping their movement. Melody seems to do the same. I move my head back, as does Melody, and we stand here. We both sigh heavily.
My head is light and floats on each new wave of emotion. My mind is empty and void of words and little voices.
"I'll see you next Friday then," I say, my words sounding blocks away and echoing through my less vacant mind as I help Melody into her car, still holding her hand.
"Yes, see you then," Melody says almost inaudibly accepting my gestures as she situates herself in the driver's seat.
Slowly, I let her hand slip from mine. Melody looks at it briefly, smiles, then places it on the wheel as I slowly close the door.
The metal barrier clicks shut, her engine starts, and she turns to face me. Through the clear, yet somewhat frosty glass, I can see her still smiling face and sparkling eyes. The corners of her mouth somehow manage to extend outward slightly more than usual as she waves to me.
I step back from the car and watch as she disappears across the parking lot and onto the street.
"Did she let it warm up? It might stall and she might..." the little voice returns.
I shake my head and laugh softly at my unwarranted contemplation. Then again, if it's as hot as it feels, I guess a few seconds is long enough. Though time has really not been that much of a measurable quantity for me lately.
I do not move as I reflect on what just happened. I close my eyes slightly and try to visualize her eyes, her hair, her lips…ah her lips, and her hands.
My eyes pop open at the last thought, her hands, and I look down at my own. My smile seems to extend from its already full form as I see her hand sliding from mine, onto her steering wheel...still wearing my gloves.
I shrug my shoulders and put my hands in my pockets, more for comfort than heat. I stroll to my car, thinking not behind, nor ahead, rather on the present, which seems very warm and soothing.