I follow where my thought flows

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Start your story looking down from a stage.... view prompt


Drama Speculative Suspense

I start playing the keys, flowing through them as smooth and sharp as a river may go. I don’t know if I’ll make it, for there are too many obstacles, pieces of wood floating downstream, hell-bent on interrupting my flow.

I’m a sea now……. Or perhaps a ship floating on its surface..... I can hear violins, sweet and mournful, (is that how they sound?) in perfect rhythm with my playing…..

Although… I know not what it is that I am performing, perhaps I practised so much that I no longer feel the need to be there while my hands and feet do their work.

Maybe that’s not it; it could be the countless pairs of eyes gazing at me every time the spotlight moves to my very own lovely space where I sit in front of them all. I open my eyes… and drown.

I am drowning, and all of a sudden I can hear every single judging thought of the audience. “Have I always been able to hear those?” I think about it, But I don’t dare open my eyes again…..It’s dangerous, I might falter and lose the beat. And then where will I be? Behind. Behind the curtains, behind a wall, never to be seen again for I disappointed in the one thing I claim to be good at, the one thing that has always had my back.

My talent? Wasted.

My dream? Hopeless.

 My dedication? A myth.

My life? A joke.

What I strive for? Non-existent.

And for the rest of my life I will wonder, “Where did I go wrong?”

This dark sea of thoughts is cut off by a shattering uproar, “Is it a waterfall?” I wonder, I open my eyes…….. To a standing ovation, my fellow musicians in the orchestra smiling and readying themselves for the next part. I can’t move, or speak….. It is as if the world is moving and I am stuck, slowly being left behind.

Moving….. Stirring…… Leaving……. Out of reach…… Gone.

I try to move, the break is almost over, I WILL NOT BE LEFT BEHIND!

I think I’m free for now, so I handle the task at hand, with…. My hands. (I suppose I should apologise for that awful pun I fell upon) So now what? Is the piece fast or slow? Should I play it with imagined happiness or perhaps with melancholy?

The violins start, someone hands over the instructions, and then I too, am playing. Does it sound happy? Is it supposed to bring the audience good memories? Will they leave this room filled with music content with what their ears were trying to translate … establishing a divine connection with the music?

Will these souls go back to the real world feeling elated? Or will they remember the harsh reality they live in? The music is getting louder now, I have my eyes closed…. I see the ocean again…. But this time it is not meant for me. The people are floating there, some drowning, some smiling, some letting go of their pain, and yet some holding on. Is this what music does? Is this why people find it healing? I wish I could relate, for I know I need it.

I slowly realize the audience is drowning, but it’s a good kind I think, for they are all smiling, at ease regardless of what their lives hold, numbing out their problems in life and letting the music wash away all the stress like warm water washing away dirt from your body, cleansing your body like music does with your mind and soul.

Is it cynical of me to believe this to not be true? Perhaps I am just bitter and resentful to not be able to feel the same as everyone does while listening to music. Now the beat is fast, the rhythm thundering, and I can feel it, gradually getting louder and faster, surprising the audience and making them sit upright.

It feels like someone had booted them awake and made them concentrate. I wonder if their eyes will come to focus again, oh I really don’t want any attention. But then I realise the culprit, who’s the reason everyone is so attentive all of a sudden, is the saxophone - in all its mightiness and glory has stolen the spotlight in the mix of music. An attention seeker (humph) and I thought I was a narcissist. Perfectly shined and clear sounds, no less is expected of such a grand instrument I suppose.

I personally will never understand all the hype, but I have been assured that my opinion couldn’t matter less so there’s no need for my critique.

We are at the encore now, what could we possibly play? My fingers feel like they’ll detach any second now. I get the new material and am ready…. But why… why is the encore a whole 10 minutes long? Well, I suppose I signed up for this, (I do need to survive in this exigent world after all) so here I go, the first instrument to play the piece, the leading marcher rather than the line behind.

It’s unnerving but I can pull it off…. And then I start the final piece of the night, fast and brisk, a wakeup call. It’s loud, I can hear it and the adrenaline kicks in. I’m improvising now, everything is a blur…. The entire audience is staring at me, why are they staring? I know I’m playing it right, I know it in my heart and my blood assures me I couldn’t be doing it more perfectly.

So then why are they staring? I care no more. I focus on the music I can finally hear, and allow myself to finally let go…. Into the very heart of music. I finally know how it feels, I now understand why living things sway to beats and why they always come back…. for music is like a drug that works in a different way on each and every person, unique just like human DNA.

Through the blur of the symphony... I see the ocean of people…swaying to the music… Perhaps grasping at one of the numerous emotions the music wishes to portray…

…I am sharing the spotlight…with my fellow musicians - building up to a crescendo….the harmony of sound... The purity of the timbre….the performance from the deepest part of our hearts and souls….

… Someday.... I will charter greater heights, or should I say depths, of this mighty ocean….standing tall and grand…

Until then.

Yours along with a Grand Piano

A Grand Pianist 

December 10, 2021 14:19

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Patrick Samuel
21:59 Dec 15, 2021

This plays like a mix of experimental writing and improvisational jam, as if you were aiming to merge the stream-of-consciousness of music and writing together. As a "traditional" short story, it might lack the anchor that an additional stake might provide (for instance a member of the audience the performer relates to). However I suspect this wasn't what you were trying to achieve here, and were more interested in exploring that strange state we find ourselves in on stage, when a part of us is in control and the other has to relinquish it...


Sim K
07:15 Dec 18, 2021

Thank you so much! I feel so elated at seeing such an exciting (and correct) speculation on what I wrote. I feel like every reader would have a different point of view or understanding depending on how they feel on stage. Everybody touches their thoughts in a different way after all.


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