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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: The Mystery of Music
By Ann Darcy


The slow tune danced its way into then room above the library. I could practically see my Master sitting there swaying as he methodically sent the passionate and melancholy sound throughout the estate. His deep-set eyes closed, and the light from the large stone fireplace would cast dark shadows about his rugged features. He was a master artist, one who had committed himself to music as a child. His every attribute demanded respect from a student.

I looked up just as the clock started to chime one of five long tones. Master would be expecting me in the library now. I adjusted the long dress I was wearing and made my way down the stone staircase. The candles that lined the walls left the stairwell with a constant aroma of smoke that filled ones senses, but provided a dim amount of light to the path down to the library.

Master’s music continued playing as I came into the library; it appeared he had not noticed me. He sat swaying to the music as I had seen him do so many times before.

“Sit down, Sarah,” he said, though he never stopped playing. I took the seat near the pianoforte and closed my eyes as I had done every day for the past year. “Listen to the melody.” He played a soft tune; quiet and sure.

“Now, Sarah, what do you see in the music?”

“I see a child, whispering. Though to no one in particular, it seems,” I replied, though the sounds barely left my lips. “But it is not a happy whisper. She is telling of a tragedy.”

“Yes…” He nodded. “That’s correct. Now it’s your turn.” He got up from the pianoforte, gracefully and gave even a slight bow, ever the showman. As I poised over the pianoforte he stood behind me watching my fingers and posture.

“Keep your head up, child.” He put his hands on either side of my head and gently lifted it. “Now. Play. Play me a story, Sarah. Like the one I played, but new.”

I had done this many times, though never to his satisfaction. I had tried, my focus waning, my eyes and ears hurting, and I had never succeeded. The melody that flowed in great ribbons from him seemed to be caught up somewhere in me. Still, I wanted to play like the Master, so I placed my fingers on the smooth keys, so my skin barely swept the surface. I closed my eyes and stirred within me a melody, a story.

My past swept before my eyes, everything in my past that had grieved me, my parents abandonment of my siblings and me, the death of my younger brothers, and the work my older brother went through to keep my lessons with the Master even though I was nearly 13 at the time. Most were never able to pick up the art after they were much older than ten. I had been playing now for nearly five years, day and night.

“Yes, yes. You’ve done it.” I could feel his hand on my shoulder. “Now play me a fairy tale. Give me a happy ending.”

I turned my thoughts to the idea of seeing my brother again; of burying my face into his wool coat and being in his company. I let the thought change my song.

“Mmm, you have done it, Sarah.” He sat down beside me in the black leather chair. “You have mastered the melody. Now your lessons are complete, I can teach you nothing else.”

We had our dinner then, a meal of fine meat and costly wine, and he talked of the wondrous fame I will have; of how I must visit him from time to time. However, that did not matter to me, I had done what my brother had asked me to do, and he had known me better than I had known myself. My Master had taught me the mystery of music, and now I would play it for anybody who would listen. I had succeeded in learning the melody of life, and I would now play the story for others.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 08/31/06
This is lovely. I'm a little dense I'm sure, but is the "Master" supposed to be God? If not, a little more information as to the circumstances behind this episode would be good. But in any case, it's really good work.
Donna Powers 09/03/06
very intriguing story. I also wonder if the Master is God. The story captured my attention. Thank you for writing it.
Jan Ackerson 09/05/06
Great use of symbolism here--nicely done.
Debbie Sickler09/06/06
I really enjoyed reading this and felt like I was sitting right there next to her as she played. :)

Just a couple things: "...then room above the library." Should be 'the room...

And: "I could practically see my Master" I believe this use of master should not be capitalized, because it is being used as his title, rather than his name. (like Mom vs my mom)

Other than that, this is a great story and I'm glad I read it tonight. :)