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Posts tagged ‘opera’

Beachside Motel

By Daphne Taylor Street

Copyright © March 8, 2014

The moment you think that you have the words to describe everything, you hear music. The sound of a trumpet off in the distance filled the air as if painting it with brilliant colors, bouncing off of the waves, splashing onto the shore. Veronica stood motionless. Her evening gown dusted in sand and salt sprayed on by the wind and the Gulf, and the translucent fabric clung to her—a violet second skin, shimmering under the moonlight.

“You match the surf!” a voice called out from behind her. “Look at you. Your dress sparkles like the waves,” and the voice waschet getting closer, but there was no image of him in the dark. Veronica looked down at her arms, and it was true, the violet shimmer of the fabric on her dress was a perfect match to the moonbeams dancing on the waves.

“Are you real or a part of the water?” the voice said softly, now coming from directly over her shoulder. Veronica could feel his breath on her neck.

Though startled by the stranger, Veronica didn’t turn to look at him this time. She felt enchanted by mystery, praying that maybe this stranger was from her dream. Maybe he’s the trumpeter, handsome, strong, kind with soft eyes and made of mystery. A mystery she longed to keep secret for as long as possible.

After a few moments of silence, she turned, and no one was there. The buildings in the background were blacked out. It was three a.m. and not a soul seemed to be awake but her. Except, yards away was a beachside motel with a neon vacancy sign lit up out front, blinking in the dimly lit window of an office. The trumpet’s songs resumed in muted tones.

The reality of the buildings, the structures and solid features framing the other side of the beach transported her back to reality with a vengeance. She felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. She felt nauseous, angry, humiliated, defeated, and a wave of despondence overwhelmed her. The three bottles of wine she consumed on her own a mere hour ago seemed to lose all effect. The intoxication was no use in dulling the pain any longer, and Veronica fell into the sand, dry-eyed and silenced as if her emotions have strangled her. She sat alone gasping for air, clutching the sugary white sand that poured out through her fingers.

Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain crescendoed as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin and began shooting outward, tearing her flesh, just under the surface—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain while memories bombarded her brain, and her own breath betrayed her. All she could do was exhale.

Her mind played out the night’s events in vivid frames beginning wither husband, Jason, backstage, waiting for her after the opera. She was a stunning Carmen, with Bizet’s notes carved carefully in her voice—every tone embodied an intense characterization—that emanated a reality, transporting the audience into another world.

After the last curtain call, and the roars of the crowds died down, Veronica was beaming with joy. Seeing Jason backstage, she melted into his arms, snuggling intimately against his neck, then suddenly realized that his arms weren’t even around her, and his head was stiff and fixed forward. She felt as if she was embracing a concrete wall. She was. She grew cold and silent, gathered her things and left quickly behind him, sitting in the car with a knot in her stomach, not knowing why, but she felt immensely fearful just the same.

The next frame was of Jason uttering his only words, which followed a long stretch of silence in the car ride back to the hotel. “Oh, by the way, I’ve filed for divorce. And I’ve moved our money. You won’t find it, so there’s no need for you to contest it. I think you have $4,000 in your checking account. I’ve left you with that. Thanks for agreeing to selling the house so quickly. This way, it’s all neat and clean. We don’t even need to talk past this point. Our attorneys will handle everything. See? It’s clean. You should be happy—I’ve made this pretty easy on you. Okay, here we are,” he pulled up to an old beachside motel and stopped the car.

Veronica sat there staring at Jason, then whispered sheepishly, stuttering a little, “What?”

Next frame—Jason twisted his neck around with his chiseled jaw clenched, eyes stern and black, glaring into hers filled with tears, and he said simply, “Get out.” She did as he sped off. Veronica gathered herself up, and she walked to the motel office. No one seemed to be there; the door was locked, and no one answered as she pounded, just needing a place to rest.

She remembered seeing a hammock near one of the motel windows, and she figured that would do until dawn, which was still several hours away.

A sense of dead exhaustion overcame her, and she clung tightly to the old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t known since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.

About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.

Moolit_Beach_Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs.—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.

No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, her evening gown shrunk onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Not a soul seemed to be awake; even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.

As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a gold Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.

Veronica screamed.

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The Little Person and the Diva

It was a listening silence. Not like the silence you hear when someone is withholding a thought or waiting their turn to speak or being polite, because that is what you do. The amphitheater had 4,000 people generating electrical waves of openness, of anticipation for the next, a silence set to receive.

And I was asked before I went on if I was nervous. Nervous for what? What was there to be nervous about? Well, you know, hejessyenorman1 stammered this and that, there are all these people, millions more viewing on television, an international commemorative event… one would be nervous. But why, and what good would it do, and wouldn’t it ruin it? I’m excited, practiced, prepared and mindful—fully in the moment to give—to claim the stage and fill the listening silence with a full expression of my breath. To sing.

And so it was… I walked upon the stage, with my body taller than I ever remember it being before, as if my head were being lifted high above, into the atmosphere, by the history of all the brilliant ghosts haunting this place. I was standing on the very steps where Socrates stood, and I was as humbled and humanized as I was embodying grandeur and magnificence—a perfect balance formed from this sublime paradox. I sang.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern impassion’d stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam,

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

 

So, you asked me what was it like to sing like that, to perform for thousands—millions, and to stand on the very slab of marble where Socrates stood and taught? Imagine being a lightning bolt. Imagine the energy you would give forth, the force and power you would have to summon to create a show as spectacular in the sky as lightening, knowing that your performance is restricted only to one part in a single storm. That is what it was like.

So you asked me about my career as a singer? Imagine having to be a lightning bolt countless times, practicing the art of being the best lightning bolt you can be every day of your life, always preparing for a fresh performance, to be prepared for the next storm when you’re called upon, and the storm may be brief or it may last hours, and you may have a small role, or you may be the entire show, and you must be as prepared for each role with the same level of excellence no matter the scale of your appearance. That’s the job of a singer.

You want me to sing? Sing with me:

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, sister, in His hands,

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

So, you want to know what I think matters most of all? That humans care about how they treat one another. I am so tired of hearing about how people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps, when there are too many people who have no boots. As a society we have a responsibility to our sisters and brothers, a responsibility to be compassionate and to lend a hand up, to reach around to your neighbor and ask, “How can I help?” and lend a hand up—no one needs a hand out—they need opportunities, second chances and others believing in them. If only we would learn that it matters most how we treat one another. In fact, it might be the only thing that does matter.

Now, I think it’s time for a little person to go to bed. Oh, one more song? Well, alright. You start singing your favorite, and I’ll join in…

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

 

Beachside Motel – Chapter 1 (edited version)

The moment you think that you have the words to describe everything, you hear music.

The sound of a trumpet off in the distance filled the air as if painting it with brilliant colors, bouncing off of the waves, splashing onto the shore. Veronica stood motionless. Her evening gown dusted in sand and salt sprayed on by the wind and the Gulf, and the translucent fabric clung to her—a violet second skin, shimmering under the moonlight.

“You match the surf!” a voice called out from behind her. “Look at you. Your dress sparkles like the waves,” and the voice was chetgetting closer, but there was no image of him in the dark. Veronica looked down at her arms, and it was true, the violet shimmer of the fabric on her dress was a perfect match to the moonbeams dancing on the waves. “Are you real or a part of the water?” the voice said softly, now coming from directly over her shoulder. Veronica could feel his breath on her neck.

Though startled by the stranger, Veronica didn’t turn to look at him this time. She felt enchanted by mystery, praying that maybe this stranger was from her dream. Maybe he’s the trumpeter, handsome, strong, kind with soft eyes and made of mystery. A mystery she longed to keep secret for as long as possible.

After a few moments of silence, she turned, and no one was there. The buildings in the background were blacked out. It was three a.m. and not a soul seemed to be awake but her. Except, yards away was a beachside motel with a neon vacancy sign lit up out front, blinking in the dimly lit window of an office. The trumpet’s songs resumed in muted tones.

The reality of the buildings, the structures and solid features framing the other side of the beach transported her back to reality with a vengeance. She felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. She felt nauseous, angry, humiliated, defeated, and a wave of despondence overwhelmed her. The three bottles of wine she consumed on her own a mere hour ago seemed to lose all effect. The intoxication was no use in dulling the pain any longer, and Veronica fell into the sand, dry-eyed and silenced as if her emotions have strangled her. She sat alone gasping for air, clutching the sugary white sand that poured out through her fingers.

Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain crescendoed as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin and began shooting outward, tearing her flesh, just under the surface—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain while memories bombarded her brain, and her own breath betrayed her. All she could do was exhale.

Her mind played out the night’s events in vivid frames beginning wither husband, Jason, backstage, waiting for her after the opera. She was a stunning Carmen, with Bizet’s notes carved carefully in her voice—every tone embodied an intense characterization—that emanated a reality, transporting the audience into another world.

After the last curtain call, and the roars of the crowds died down, Veronica was beaming with joy. Seeing Jason backstage, she melted into his arms, snuggling intimately against his neck, then suddenly realized that his arms weren’t even around her, and his head was stiff and fixed forward. She felt as if she was embracing a concrete wall. She was. She grew cold and silent, gathered her things and left quickly behind him, sitting in the car with a knot in her stomach, not knowing why, but she felt immensely fearful just the same.

The next frame was of Jason uttering his only words, which followed a long stretch of silence in the car ride back to the hotel. “Oh, by the way, I’ve filed for divorce. And I’ve moved our money. You won’t find it, so there’s no need for you to contest it. I think you have $4,000 in your checking account. I’ve left you with that. Thanks for agreeing to selling the house so quickly. It would have been uncomfortable if we needed to deal with an arson investigation and insurance settlements. This way, it’s all neat and clean. We don’t even need to talk past this point. Our attorneys will handle everything. See? It’s clean. You should be happy—I’ve made this pretty easy on you. Okay, here we are,” he finished pulling up to the hotel as the valet opened her door.

Veronica sat there staring at Jason, then whispered sheepishly, stuttering a little, “What?”

Next frame—Jason twisted his neck around with his chiseled jaw clenched, eyes stern and black, glaring into hers filled with tears, and he said simply, “Get out.” She did.

Veronica gathered herself up, and she walked to the motel office. No one seemed to be there; the door was locked, and no one answered as she pounded, just needing a place to rest.

She remembered seeing a hammock near one of the motel windows, and she figured that would do until dawn, which was still several hours away.

A sense of dead exhaustion overcame her, and she clung tightly to the old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t known since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.

About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.

Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs.—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.

Moolit_Beach_No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, her evening gown shrunk onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Not a soul seemed to be awake; even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.

As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a gold Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.

Veronica screamed.

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