Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Music Matcher (Friday Fiction)

Hi, everyone! Welcome to Friday Fiction, I'm hosting this week, so feel free to jump in and join the fun! All you have to do is add your link to the linky gadget below. Don't forget to read and comment on other stories--we all love the feedback! 

Author's Ramblings: Well, I'm scrambling again this week--lol--big surprise here, but for those of you keeping track, this weekend is the 3rd Faithwriter's Conference in MI and I've spent most of the day packing/cleaning/double-checking and other random things in preparation for it. So, using that as my um, "excuse" I added/revised a bit of an old FW entry and slotted it in for today's friday fiction as I am literally almost brain-dead (in the creativity department, LOL!) and I know there are some folks who would like to have their work posted before they leave. Incidentally, I didn't add as much to this as I wanted (I can literally see a whole novel-sized bit in this snippet), but it was begging to be expanded, so I listened to it today. So, in keeping with that, even though it's a bit early, happy reading and have a wonderful weekend--I can't wait to tell you all about it when I'm back. ^_^ 

If she was as loud as her clothes, I think we would’ve thrown her out.

A metallic mini-skirt over dark leggings, topped off with knee-high, multicolored socks and pink rubber boots made up her bottom half. I thought I would get a headache if I dared to look up any higher, but my curiosity got the better half of me and I ended up looking anyway.

She proudly displayed a wispy floral blouse, accented with patterned scarves in bold prints to match her safari headband. There was gold jewelry piled on in the most outrageous fashion and her ears sported several unevenly numbered piercings. Her hair was thick and unruly, with pins sticking out every which way and neon colored elastics tangled through the ends.

When she swung down from the rickety bus, she was whistling, a rainbow canvas knapsack slung over one shoulder.

My disdain faded the moment she turned to look straight at me with a smile so breathtakingly beautiful, I almost forgot to breathe. She had an adorable pixie face with eyes the shade of morning dawn.
The only thought that came to me was that she was the answer to our prayers.

Riverbranch was a tiny community of, on the outskirts of nowhere, slowly dying. Middle-aged, empty nesters like myself, made up the majority with cookie-cutter husbands who took the bus to work in the big city. Our children and grandchildren for those who had, were scattered neatly around the world, far away from our gap of things. In Riverbranch, there was no rush to keep up with the outside word of modern times, things were quiet and for me, often bitter.

There was a lady judge and young pastor with a tragic past. We had no mayor, because no one dared to hold the office longer than a few months. How the town survived, I didn’t know. But, when she arrived, things began to change.

It had to be the music.

After the pastor’s wife had died, our mere existence lapsed into silence. We went about our monotonous lives, looking down on the younger women who hadn’t yet achieved our height. I wasn’t any less guilty than the next, but I didn’t lump myself into such superior company either. I preferred to ignore the gossips and pretend I couldn’t see the angel with the beautiful smile.

She was probably some lucky old bird’s granddaughter and if I knew anything, she wouldn’t last a week in Riverbranch.

A pang wedged in my chest and I struggled to breathe around it. I didn’t even know her, but yet, I didn’t want her to leave.

It was her whistling that broke the silence. It also woke Mrs. Lambert’s new baby. The newcomer didn’t seem to notice anything amiss, for she promptly inserted herself with the young family, helping with the children as if she belonged.

I wrote her off as city relative who didn’t know better. Whistling wasn’t something you heard in our quiet town and a baby’s annoyed cries were annoying for those around. The spell of her pretty smile faded as my cynicism surfaced. If she lasted longer than a day, I knew she’d lose the garish clothing or chirpy attitude.

By the end of the month, I was proven wrong.

Tales of this strange girl’s musical talent courted my foggy ears. From coaxing the elderly Coughton sisters to sing, she taught Mr. Cyrula’s blind daughter to play the flute. Mrs. Lambert started a children’s choir in town and somehow Mr. Hollingsworth was chosen as Mayor and managed to stay in office for longer than a week.

The silent town I’d adored was now overflowing with music. I was impressed, almost.

It was our own company, I suppose and really our own fault. We were such a miserable, depressing lot, but since her arrival, we’d become a real-life musical. I could hear people singing when I walked out to mailbox, so I no longer engaged in such a mundane activity. I’d hide in the shower with all the taps running, so I wouldn’t have to hear Bertha—the mail lady—singing as she brought the mail to the front door. I had Henry bring my groceries over from the general store, so I wouldn’t have to hear the happy conversations while standing in line.

Yet, the more I tried to isolate myself, the more the town came alive. I couldn’t keep hiding from it, so I had to venture in, one tippy-toe at a time. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, until I realized that I didn’t see her anymore.

She was still in town, I knew that much, but I’d yet to have seen her after the first day that she’d arrived. A nagging sort of feeling registered in the back of my head, but I didn’t think into it, because I didn’t want to find an answer. But, the reality of it wasn’t as kind, for I soon learned that she’d visited every single house in Riverbranch.

Every house except mine.

I was baking raisin-cashew scones for Mrs. Beardin, when the doorbell rang. I set the timer on the oven and hurried to answer it. It was Mrs. Gouth with the latest news.

The girl had charmed our lady judge into singing in the church choir next week. I had officially seen and heard everything I wanted to know. My earlier fascination with her was now completely snuffed out.

The lady judge? Really? That same little...that...that caused the pastor’s wife to be—oooh, this makes me MAD!

“She’s filling their heads with false hopes.” I muttered, stalking back to the kitchen and stopping short at what was waiting for me.

The mystery girl in question stood near the counter, lining up well-browned scones on the cooling rack. The sweet scent filled the air and I tried to get past the fact that she was holding a hot pan without potholders.

Her electric green eyes locked onto mine, without a trace of a smile anywhere. “It’s not false hope.” She scooped four scones into a clean towel, having returned the hot pan to the warm oven. “It’s real. Just like His promises in His book, how long are you going to keep denying this?”

“Who’s book? How did you get in here?” I grabbed the oven mitts, reaching for the oven myself. I hadn’t been gone long enough for the scones to cook. “I’m not denying anything and I didn’t invite you in! This is called trespassing! I don’t know who you think you are, but I’m going to call your parents and-”

“We all have the same Father you know. Just a different song.” Her eyes went to my clenched hands and she reached over, taking the oven mitts away. “Like the wedding band you used to wear. A symbol of unending love. What is love without acceptance? You soul is caged because you won’t believe. Is it worth the silence? Is it really? I know you hate me, that’s why I saved you for last, but I don’t think you understand yet and I certainly can’t make you.”

“Make me what? Understand what? I don’t know what you’re talking about-!”

“I’ll take these to Mrs. Beardin for you.” She paused. “And I can’t explain that, but He knows the end of your song-if you’ll only let Him finish.” She brushed past and let herself out the front door.

I followed her to the door and watched as she delivered the scones in exchange for her knapsack.

She slung it over one shoulder and began to walk to the bus stop.

Saved me for last…?

An odd feeling welled up in my throat and came out as a strangled sound, encouraging the tears that followed.

The emotions mixed around and played with my heart. I thought of all the twisted dreams and fears I’d clung to the past few years. I thought of the trap I’d deliberately entered, to keep my walls from crumbling around me.

Since my divorce, I’d rejected everything I could get away with. Especially the music. When my awkward prayer shot upwards, I was on pins and needles, wondering if I’d done it right.

The memory of her smile replayed in my head and a sliver of warmth crept back into my heart. So that’s how she’d done it. I could almost understand, just a little bit. She’d slipped into our lives and challenged our right to be as we were in our own company.

Her hand of friendship was sealed with music.

Beautiful, blessed music.

The old bus rumbled to a stop and she started forward as the door clanged open. I stood on the porch and before I could stop myself, I waved.

She turned and tossed her head, giving me one last beautiful smile to remember. The wedge in my heart melted away. Her melodious laughter floated back to me, and I smiled through my tears as she boarded the bus and took a seat in the back.

I waved until the bus was gone in a cloud of dust and then I cried until I laughed and laughed until the hurt was gone.

Then there was only music.

A simple, bittersweet song, a tune just for me that I could sing over and over again.

In the company of angels.

© Sara Harricharan


Karlene said...

Oh yeah, I can see what you mean. This screams, "Expand, expand . . . there's far more to this story!" Can't wait till you are able to follow that call. :) Who is this girl? That's what I want to know.

Kristina Rohder said...

Wow... That was beautiful... I'm speechless!
There was so much mystery in this piece, but the ending was amazing. I loved it!

Hoomi said...

Okay, you got to me with this one. Well done (now that I can post a comment from a different browser than IE...)