Written in response to Creative Ink Writing Prompt Competition January 19th.
Music defined as a vocal or instrumental sound combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. Oh, how I miss the sounds it played. Symphonies from orchestras, harmonies from choirs, the powerful solos. The Bass, sopranos, altos and tenors. The strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. Uniting to piece together moving and emotional rhythms. Music let individuals free, free to the world to see. Emotions flooding the pages it is delicately written upon. It brought family together. It stung tears from the eyes, and laughter from the heart. It brought hope in the darkest of days, with familiarity and recognition. It taught children, words and the alphabet. It’s a way of life. It’s an art, a thing dedicated to the world, to emphasise the beauty. It gave the blind, freedom to see again. To see colours and valleys, and mountains and rivers. To let one run and dance, when physically unable. Music made this world more than anything it ever was or could be.
I missed the times it brought. The memories that welcomed it. Now, even thinking seems to make to much noise that it reverberates in this echoing silence. No noise is permitted. No noise exceeding 40 decibels now. The sound a bird would make, flying in the breeze. No noise above this range without explicit permission. Now even the birds are hushed, eliminated or caged as prisoners, in silence. The newest generations, have never learnt speech.
I can remember that day. The day that it sounded. I can understand, yet not phantom why they would allow anyone to live in a world of silence. A world of hushed voices, slipping dry pages, a world devoid of laughter. A world barren of expressing emotions of anger, and sadness and joy. A world without music.
I can still remember the sounds of the needle, gliding across the grooves. Grooves as original as fingerprints, or as diverse as the music it played. The large disc that span, and with each turn a pirouette of a melody, gliding up and down the octaves rang out. In my mind’s eye, I can see the love of a professional, as they played their instrument. Carrying cases, and necks, like a delicate frail lover. The kisses that were planted on the gold and silver metals, before their hearts sang through.
But now. Now they sit, discarded over this time. Strings, screaming for a gentle caress of strumming fingers. Mouth pieces waiting to feel a kiss of anyone. Pianos, longing for a touch, a staccato beat or legato notes. They all sit, gathering dust like discarded ornaments. Record players, waiting to trace the spines of their records.
My record player sits. The ancient thing, precious and beautiful. A rare, valuable antique, even in my youth. It stares longingly at the cardboard cases, that hold the most important element to their being. I feel my ancient fingers twitch as I start to reach out my arms to set free the circles from their prison. To carve out the dusted beauty from the grooves, but I hesitate, a moment too long as I remember the consequences.
I turn away and stare at the book shelves. I creak oaken bones, and stretch out the cobweb tendons as I reach for the stacks of books. Yes, there are books. One of the things displaying creativity in this life. But as I look at the titles, they blur and merge like mixed paint. My eyes fail me, as well as my courage. One note, one song from a record. It wouldn’t harm anyone, surely? No, only perhaps, myself, and that threat is enough to hang my wishes up in a noose.
I slowly lean back, fearful of my back creaking too loudly, or the seat squeaking. Once comfortable, I glanced back over at the record player. My whole heart yearning to hear a beat, a melody a tune. A song familiar since all those years ago. The song we danced to on the night I proposed, my favourite childhood song, the alphabet song. Anything.
I admit, that music makes me think of her. But she too, has gone, like all the sounds of music. She died, when the sound was played. The sound that killed most of our population. Over 185 decibels, pulsing through any device with a speaker. Phones, Televisions, adverts, the speakers in shopping centres. Everything, sang the same deafening sound. The doors closed off the passage to the bunker, people queuing, discarding their gadgets reluctantly in disbelief. Then the sudden face of fear, as the guardsmen slowly pulled a barrier and shut the doors. The same face echoing across an entire corridor, before the doors eclipsed over them, closing off into a final slit, where her face was, reflecting the same emotion back at me. Complete and utter fear.
I still feel guilty as I remember. She wanted to go back , go and retrieve something, that left me waiting down below. All the phones belonging to the individuals that were saved, echoed round that room with her, killing them off. Lungs bursting from change in pressure, heart attacks, air embolisms in the lungs and the many many other possibilities of death she could have experienced.
The record player sat there, reminiscing over memories, it never experienced. She always told me that music sounded better from the antiques. It was more genuine, more beautiful than that of the electronic music. She would always shake slightly as she explained her emotions, joints trembling, as though in fear of being judged. She had brought the record player home one day. She played it all the time. I would treat her to different records, let her play them and dance around the flat.
When I proposed to her, I gave her a disc and when she leaped up to go play it, she discovered it wouldn’t turn on. I’d only unplugged and attached a ring to the socket, but her eyes lit up, like wood catching from kindling. She discarded the disc and came at me. Laughing and smiling in a way that only she could achieve. “Yes”, yes. An important word, an agreement, and acceptation. She played the disc, letting it spin, on and on, round and round. For ever and ever like a clock.
Temptation succumbed to me, it lured me in like bait on a fishing line. I was hooked, and I couldn’t free myself, as the reel wound around further and welcomed me back into the world of music.
I almost drowned in the beauty, the overwhelming emotion that swept over me like a flood. A random disc, playing the sweeping sounds of dramatic bow strokes, accompanied with the piano. The whole world sighed, as though the music flushed life back into its veins. I flicked through the case, growing younger each time the melody broke through. My years going back, my movements more nimble, my skin moistening, and stretching back over my frame.
I fumbled through the cases, searching, searching for that one disc, that one record… No. No, it can’t be, not this one thing. No, for god’s sake. She went back for it, didn’t she. No. No! All these years, all these many years, I thought I still had that one thing. But no, she had that one thing. She went to retrieve it. Why didn’t I hear her? Why didn’t I tell her not too? This world would have been better with her. I would be able to suffer the silence, for one of her smiles are worth every note in the world.
I took the case and record player. I swept the dust off them. Admiring the colours, the effort of the grooves, the effort put into piecing each note one by one, to make a masterpiece.
I lead it outside, the bulk a welcome weight in my weakened limbs. I let the music rip free from the dusted grooves. I let the tunes free in the street. I sang along, and let the youths watch me bellow out songs of age. I laughed and cried and slowly they followed suit. Adults and the rest of the ancients, pursued the music and they too sang along, they laughed and cried. They basked in the beauty, as they would the sun. The new generation, laughed for the first time and hummed the choruses. The entire community was united, in the beauty before everyone began to drop, blood blossoming from gaping wounds. Quiet thuds triggered the next domino to collapse in the ring.
I thought I was the only one under threat…