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She drove to the town car park and sat a while.
Then she got out and walked up the high street against the November wind to the only remaining music store for miles around, wrapping her now oversized coat closely across her chest.
She was met by a pathetic blast of hot air hitting the top of her head in the doorway, but other than that the shop was cold and draughty. The carpet was worn and there were empty spaces in the racks that had once been crammed.
She was the only customer and the lad behind the till didn’t look up as she walked past.
She headed for the classical CDs. She had shopped here regularly, once upon a time, for presents for Peter and the children but rarely in the classical music section and rarely for herself.
There was a very old, faded poster of Charlotte Church as a child from her classical singing days in the 1990s. It had obviously come unstuck at the corner several years ago and one side of her head had curled over. Another poster showed a photo of a piano and advertised the complete Bach ‘Well-tempered Clavier’ on a “New” 4-CD set.
She looked down at the arrangement of the CDs. Vaguely alphabetical, slightly dusty and sparsely stocked. What composer was she looking for? she wondered.
The lad behind the till walked over with a CD cover to put back on the shelf.
She turned to him. ‘Do you think people will soon stop buying CDs altogether?’ she asked.
‘Dunno. ‘spec so. Dad’s determined to stick at it though. He doesn’t like change. But everything’s downloads now. Should move with the times if you ask me.’
‘Quite right.’ She smiled. She clearly wasn’t moving with the times and he clearly wasn’t bothered about his comment putting off a potential customer. She looked down, hoping she looked like a music buff, only to realise she had started at Z.
She tapped her fingers over the edges of the CDs and lifted them just enough to see the names, hoping for inspiration. Did any of these write cello music? If so, it wasn’t obvious.
Finally she came across a picture of a cello. Rachmaninoff & Prokoviev. She held it, looking at the photo: a man with a cello and a man at the piano. It wasn’t much help really. How did she know if she would like it? How wasteful spending… she looked at the price… £12.99 on something that she might only ever listen to once. Peter would have disapproved – in fact Peter would have refused to listen to it. If he had been stood next to her she would have had to put it back.
So she didn’t put it back. She would take it home and make up her own mind whether this was a bad buy or not.
‘Are you interested in a loyalty card?’ asked the lad indifferently.
‘I don’t live round here anymore, I’m afraid.’

She slipped the CD into the car’s CD player and drove out of the familiar car park. As she pulled out of the entrance a very slow low cello sound began to vibrate from the speakers. It was mournful, tragic and lonely. The melody was so not Western and so unfamiliar and when the piano joined in the harmony was so discordant that she reached for the off button. It was certainly no Johnny Cash. But before she had a chance the tune livened up. Not in a light happy way, but in a forceful, defensive way. It was if the music was shouting at her to give it a chance. She drove on absorbing the sounds, feeling pulled into the rolling thoughtful trickle of the piano, the sadness and the memories being tugged out of her. Then with a burst of fast clashes as the cellist struck unpredictable note combinations loudly she was thrown into sounds that fought, that ran, that wouldn’t rest. It was the cacophony in her head captured in a piece of music.

By the time she got back to the flat she was on the second playing of the CD and was beginning to pick out tunes familiar from the first listening. She had been taken to rivers, forests and castles, seen battles, deaths, spring time lambs and lovers all from the fairy tale quality of the music and she felt she had been treated to a comforting sanctuary of emotive experiences that she hadn’t experienced since she was a child with time and permission to get lost in her own imagination.

(This is a section from my current NaNoWriMo WIP. It may be changed beyond recognition or be lost altogether when I start editing…Who knows?…)

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Interesting atmosphere and mystery here. Good to know it’s an excerpt, else it feels like it has loose ends (e.g., who’s “Peter”). Minor typo: If he had been stood next to her… Nice work!


  2. Really enjoyed reading this Rachel, I’m looking forward to reading the whole book when it’s published.


  3. I enjoyed the figurative language, and the way in which the music takes over the telling of the story. It’s obviously very much about your character and Peter, and their relationship or their past. You’ve introduced issues here that make me want to read on.


  4. Deanna Schrayer #

    Rachel, I hope that when you edit you don’t cut this piece, or at least not the emotion in it. This is truly powerful and says so much in so few words. Your description of all she feels by listening to the CD is simply fabulous!


  5. Thank you so much for all those comments. It’s been odd posting that while it’s still so new and close. I’m still very protective of it.



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