Good morning, Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a lovely, cloudy, rainy, chilly morning. I went to sleep last night listening to the light pattering of a gentle rain on the roof. And this morning the rain is still softly falling. It's 43º right now. Fall. Yesterday, since it was a rainy day and I didn't have a lot of pressing things to do, I curled up with a book and enjoyed some reading. It was quite lovely.
Guess what I've been doing this week? Writing! Yep, I'm writing again. I wrote for the first time this month on Tuesday and have written every day since. Of course that's only three days, but it's sure better than none at all! I'm hoping to keep going and get a few other short Christmas stories finished. Don't worry, I'm not starting any new ones. These are all ones that have been started but not finished.
I'm still working on stuff for the two Christmas plays for church. I made a list of all the things I need for props. And I'm starting to ask people if they have them. And I will be sharing the story for one of the plays with you in December.
Today starts a new story. I was going to wait a week before I started it, but decided to just go ahead and start. It's only 3 weeks long. I hope you enjoy it. The idea for this story came to me when I was listening to a string quartet with my grandpa a couple months ago.
To Give Hope
Clara stared at the blank lines on the sheet of music paper before her. She had to write something! Her dark brown hair had been pulled back from her face several hours before, but wisps and curls had come loose and now framed her face. Frustration rose up in her as she fiddled with the pencil on the table.
“I’ll try at the piano.”
Sitting down on the bench, she lifted the lid and touched a few chords.
“Ugh! Nothing works!” She looked at a framed photo that hung on the wall. “Grandpa, I can’t do it,” she whispered. “I can’t compose something for your quartet.”
Tears gathered in Clara’s brown eyes, and turning, the girl buried her face in her hands and cried. Once the tears were spent she sat motionless, head still in her hands, and wondered listlessly if she would ever be able to compose music again.
Clara heard her dad’s cheery voice in the other room. He must have just returned from the conservatory where he taught music composition. The very thought brought renewed frustration, and Clara groaned. “His daughter is a failure at the very thing he teaches! Didn’t I learn anything?” She swallowed back another lump in her throat and listened to her mom’s voice.
“. . . she hasn’t come out to eat lunch, and I haven’t heard any composing going on. I wish you’d go talk with her, John. You understand her better than I do when it comes to music and things like that.”
Clara knew her mom was right; her dad did understand about music, but she doubted even he’d be able to help her. Nothing could help if she couldn’t compose anymore.
A light tap sounded on the music room door before it swung silently open. Clara didn’t lift her head.
“How’s the composing going?” Mr. Stillman asked.
Sitting down on the piano bench beside his daughter, Mr. Stillman rubbed her back a little. “What’s the problem?”
With a sigh, Clara dropped her hands and straightened. “I can’t compose. There’s nothing there. It’s all dark, frustrating nothingness! How do you compose when–” She broke off and stared at the carpet.
Clara shook her head. “I don’t know. I look at the paper and see nothing. I sit down at the piano, and all I can hear, all I can play, are minor chords that sound terrible.”
Mr. Stillman sat silently for a moment. “Clara, I want you to forget about music for a minute. What else is bothering you? What has you so tense that you couldn’t even play chopsticks without exhausting yourself?”
Clara stared at the walls of the music room without really seeing them. They were a light neutral color. On one wall hung a few violins, her favorite viola, and a framed verse from Psalms. Another wall held a bookshelf filled with hymn books, music books, sheet music, and biographies of famous composers. The other two walls were empty expect for the large windows where heavy drapes could shut out the sun’s harsh glare or let in the warming rays. Music stands, a table, a couch and chair, and a variety of instrument cases occupied part of the room.
“Come on, Clara, what’s bothering you?”
The words seemed to come of themselves. “Paul and Ashley are splitting up. Emma is struggling with being a single mom with two children. Kale and Isaiah just lost their baby. Ginger seems to have lost all idea of how to communicate and only gives vague answers about the upcoming baby shower for Tiffany, and it’s all driving me nuts! And now Grandpa is counting on this new song that I can’t write.” She propped her elbows on her knees and rested her chin in her hands. “And yes, I’ve tried to put it all out of my mind, Dad, but I can’t.”
Mr. Stillman rose without a word and crossed the room to the bookshelf. After a quick glance, he pulled a well worn music book down and returned to the piano. He opened the book and set it on the music rack. “Play this song for me.”
Clara didn’t move. She didn’t want to play a song, but her dad took hold of her shoulders and slid her around until she faced the music. It was a simple piece, one she had learned many years before. Almost automatically her hands found the correct keys and she began playing.
“Stop.”Her fingers stilled, and Clara sat staring at the music before her.
“What’s wrong with the song?” Her dad’s voice was calm.
Clara didn’t answer. She hadn’t paid much attention to what she was playing.
Crouching down beside the bench, Mr. Stillman tipped his head and looked at her. “Clara, what was wrong?”
Her answer was a shrug.
Do you play an instrument?
Have you ever tried composing something?
Does everyone else's problems weigh you down sometimes?