I am brain numb today (still in recovery from our short week, and from combing the internet for summer writing options in Provence into the wee hours last night). As a result I can’t think of a thing to say. In such a circumstance, sharing a snippet of the NaNoWriMo project on the go seems like a good solution, so here is something for your reading pleasure. This is a first draft of Ben’s perspective on the infamous concert scene, set at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver:
It was my turn.
Kraft called my name and smiled at me from the podium.
I stepped onto the stage.
Kraft asked me about the inspiration for the song and I looked right through the blackness and into Grace’s eyes when I replied, “I wrote this piece as a celebration of the kind of love that can not be stopped by time, the kind of love that makes the universe worth inhabiting.”
The Bösendorfer grand piano gleamed in the stage lights like an ocean reflecting city lights. I sat down on the bench, positioned my hands, and nodded at Kraft. He nodded to the violins and marked the down beat.
My song told the story of my search for Grace. The strings wept my loneliness and longing for her. The flutes danced into the melody in little trills of hope, those moments when I thought she was near. Then I struck the keys of the piano and told of her appearance in my life, her rejection, her tentative interest, her fearful denials. I wound the music with my fears for her and my joy in her. A flute played the recorder part from the picnic when she’d accepted her ancient wedding ring from me. The woodwinds laughed with the joy of her acknowledgment of our love. I set my hands on my lap as the percussion beat out the danger and the brass howled my frustration and pain. Then I started playing again, pouring my hope and adoration through my fingers and out onto the strings of piano. My love rolled out from the piano and filled the hall with dreams and hope, and then I hit the final chord and dropped my head onto my chest, emotionally exhausted.
Like they had been at the end of Jilly’s composition, the audience sat, silently.
I stood up and turned to the audience. I kissed the tips of my fingers and extended my arm toward Grace. Her love filled my mind. I bowed to the still silent audience, as tears of grateful adoration clouded my vision.
Grace leaned over the railing of the balcony, stretching out her arm as if she could reach me. Tears were pouring down her face.
Suddenly, in a single tsunami wave, the audience rose to its feet and began to applaud. Applaud and applaud. It went on and on, clapping and clapping.
The announcer touched my arm and guided me to the other competitors.
I sat there as the audience continued to applaud.
The announcer stood waiting, trying to speak, but completely [overcome] by the crowd who were not ready yet to stop.
Wesford Kraft came over and shook my hand.
The announcer smiled at me in awkward acknowledgement and clapped his own hands. He had me stand once more and bow, and finally the crowd gradually stopped and took their seats again. He thanked the other contestants with a smile, told the crowd that the special long piece commissioned for tonight from the winner of last year’s competition would be performed after the intermission. They would announce the winner of the this year’s competition afterwards. He thanked Wesford Kraft for conducting and Kraft bowed to polite applause, and left the stage.
My heart was thudding so hard it was filling the room.
The house lights were turned back up and I glanced up to the Dress Circle. Bright was beaming down at me. Grace had disappeared.
I started up the aisle toward the lobby, people parted, smiling and thumping me on my back as I went.
In the lobby Grace flew at me in her flowing red dress like a shooting flame of longing. She fired into my thoughts all her joy, excitement, and love. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her, devouring her presence greedily.
The world fell away as we collapsed into ourselves, hearts, heads, and hands consumed in the bliss of physical presence at long last.
Grace gasped for air and we pulled apart, staring into each other eyes, our minds full of the euphoria of togetherness.
I looked around and realized that a crowd had gathered around us, beaming in amusement. I took half a step back, slightly embarrassed, and they applauded again with enthusiastic approval. Grace buried her head in my shoulder and I laughed, hugging her tightly.
The lights flicked to send us back to our seats, and I pulled her along with me to the front row. The others just grinned at us, and Jilly Tomm from Saskatchewan slid over one chair.
I was feeling very little appreciation for arm rests as we cuddled together when the lights went down. I knew that in the overflow of stage lighting we would be silhouetted for the entire theatre to see, and so I tried to be circumspect, when all I wanted to do was throw her onto the ground and make wild, passionate love to her. We hadn’t done that this life-time, and this truly wasn’t the place, but it didn’t stop me from wanting it. I nestled down to kiss her neck, and she made tantalizing little noises. They were an interesting cross between a squeak and a purr. They didn’t help my composure.
The orchestra played its accompaniment to our blissful entwining of affection, adoration, euphoria, and lust.
Day 17 words: 2570 (November Total 27,515)
True confession. I have changed my NaNo time zone to Midway Island. That gives me three extra hours to write before NaNo closes down the day. Since I tend to do my writing after midnight, this is a great help!
What a wonderfully descriptive piece Shawn. For a moment I was there listening and applauding.This will be a very special book.
Thanks David. It’s interesting because it’s a companion to Grace Awakening Power, which is already out. It’s the same main story, but told from a completely different perspective. Grace’s version of this same event is frequently identified as a reader’s favourite chapter in the book. Grace’s version comes from a real life moment as described in this blog post: https://shawnbird.com/2010/10/13/starry-night-of-music/ I think when there is a powerful truth hiding behind a scene, the writing lives more authentically. 🙂