I’ve published a couple of short stories on a musical theme: there’s my flash Getting It Together with Elvis; my short stories Melanie’s Last Tune about a narcissistic music teacher and The Invention of Harmony about a mediaeval nun’s fear of her own creativity. So it didn’t take me long to come up with an idea for the required 99 words. I’m pairing this with the march from Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, although anything that sparks different reactions would do:
The music was by some Russian guy. Thump thump thump and plinketty plonk. As soon as she caught the rhythm it would flip to something else. The thrum of a headache in her temples, she turned his way. Yet, instead of the anticipated shrug of apology, he appeared enraptured, his expression the one he usually wore straight after sex.
Okay? But somewhere along the line it struck me that I’d misinterpreted the prompt: it wasn’t to write about music but to write a story influenced by a musical score. In other words, a flash that tells the same story as the music.
Now, much as I enjoy music, and take whatever opportunity I can find to prattle about how thrilled I am to sing with a choir despite my imperfect pitch, I’m not aware of it inspiring my writing. Fiction and music seem to be located in separate parts of my brain. I like to be in as quiet an environment as possible when I’m writing, or when I’m reading for that matter. Even if it weren’t for the extraneous sound confusing my voice-activated software – and, boy, it’s confused enough with just my voice to contend with – I’d find it distracting. Yet lots of writers, as testified on Roz Morris’s blog the undercover soundtrack, use music as their muse. So I pushed myself to step out of my writerly comfort zone to see if I could squeeze a story out of one of my favourite choral pieces: In Paradisum from Faure’s Requiem. Click on the link and listen as you read. (Although there are words in this, which is slightly against the rules, when you’re hitting those high notes the human voice could be just another musical instrument.)
The pain dissolved in an instant, his agonised frown flipping to a smile. His smile grew wider as gentle hands attached helium balloons to his wrists, his waist, his ankles and his shoulders and he felt himself lifted up, up and up, until he was floating just below the ceiling, looking down in triumph on the narrow hospital bed. Angelic voices sang of how they’d make him whole again, or help him shed his battered body and live among the clouds. And he believed them, oh how much he believed them, until the morphine stopped coursing through his veins.
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Feedback time: do my words fit with the music and which piece of flash you prefer?
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More wordy feedback is also welcome in the comments section below.