One of the things I’ve found useful as a writer is having music playing as I write. I can’t write if there’s a distraction, but certain types of music enhance the situation and my creativity, and I feel I see better results on the paper.
In most cases, it has to be an instrumental. It there are lyrics, I find myself concentrating on those, rather than the prose I’m trying to coax out of the recesses of my psyche.
Of course, the music also has to fit the tone of the piece. A really good source of these are tracks from the fine folks on Liquid Cinema. These are bits of backing music, written for film and television, that are actually available for use in your own videos, for a fee. But they have also bundled a number of them up and made them available on iTunes.I have extended action sequences in my Triangle novels, so when I’m working on those, I have a playlist of Liquid Cinema track that evoke the excitement and adrenaline you’d feel in chase scenes and batttles.
But there is a partcular scene in Triangle: False Mirror that I wrote to the rhythms of a piece of music that has special meaning to me: Cristifori’s Dream by David Lanz.
The piece is for piano and strings and was originally recorded in 1988. I’d heard it, on and off, through the years. But four years ago, someone who was a very important part of my life passed away. She had cancer, but had kept the fact hidden from me until almost the very end, because she knew I was dealing with my own set of horrendous issues at the time, and did not want to add onto my burdens. Whether she was right, I’m still not sure, because her death, to me, was sudden, and shocking, and a blow that haunts me to this day.
They held a service of celebration for her life two months after she passed away. Friends and family were there, but I was the only one who came from the part of her life that I knew her from – as a healer of broken people. That day I listened and learned about other facets of this person, each described as glowingly as I knew her to be. Then, toward the end, they played a recording of what they said was her favorite song.
Cristifori’s Dream. And as the notes played across the room, I understood. It is so powerful, blissful yet longing, and haunting long after it stops.
I listen to the song most everyday. When I do, I can almost feel her presence with me, helping me again find focus, reframe, and find healing. So when it came time, in Triangle: False Mirror, to write the scene where Amy finally has the chance to say goodbye to the love of her life, taken away from her so suddenly and cruelly, I knew I had only one choice in what to listen to as I put pen to paper.
When you read the passage, you can feel a certain rhythm to it, different than anywhere else in the novel. It’s the rhythm of this music woven into my words. I’m not sure I fully did this beautiful melody justice. But I certainly tried.
Here is the song, and below the passage from the novel, as a gift to you, my readers and friends.
Excerpted from “Triangle: False Mirror”
Copyright (c) 2012, D. G. Speirs. All Rights Reserved.
They rounded a corner and stopped. In front of them was a large circular pool, teal in color. Moments after they arrived, 75 jets lining the edges leapt to life, all aimed toward the center. In seconds, they’d formed a canopy, a dome of mist and spray over the pool that the sunlight played through, sparkling and jumping. The sight was breathtaking.
Amy spoke quietly. “It was my first day on campus. I’d just come around this corner, and the fountain was running. I was mesmerized. I had never seen anything so amazing, so…And then this guy walks up, and stands next to me. He doesn’t say a word; he just stands there, looking at it. Just like I was. We must have stood there for fifteen, twenty minutes.”
“Finally, the fountain shuts off and he starts to walk away down the hill. Doesn’t say a single word, just walks away. So I have to know. ‘What did you think of it?’ I call out to him. He glanced back at me, smiled slightly and said, ‘Second most beautiful thing I’ve seen today.’ And then he turned and kept going.”
“Six weeks later, I was at the swimming pool, doing laps, and when I stopped, here is this same guy, standing at the end of my lane, grinning down at me. Just a little half-grin, somewhat timid. But definitely all for me. He introduced himself that time—Jason, a graduate student here who was also helping coach the swim team. The whole time, he’s polite and respectful, and never once made a move. Flirts, but doesn’t follow up.”
“He helped coach me through three seasons here…and finally, a couple of months ago, I got up my nerve and I made the first move. And we had seven wonderful weeks…”
Amy’s breath caught. Steve and Rose didn’t say anything. They just held her hands as the fountain ran in the background. Amy stared at it.
“The night before the ship pulled into Nassau, we were strolling on the deck of the cruise ship. There was a full moon out. It was a perfect night. Well, we stopped along the railing, and watched the moon silently for a few moments. Then, without a word, he just turned to me and kissed me, and, well, one thing led to another. First time ever for us, and everything I ever could have wanted. Afterward, he smiled at me, that same half smile.”
“‘What are you smiling about?’ I asked him.”
“‘I was thinking about the full moon tonight,’ he said, brushing the hair away from my face.”
“‘Oh?’ I said, thinking to myself, ‘How could you be thinking about the moon after THAT!’ ”
Rose broke up, giggling, Steve smiled, and Amy nodded. “Yeah, I know. But then he looked at me…and he smiled and said, ‘Well, it was the second most beautiful thing I saw tonight.’ ”
Amy voice faltered. Steve nodded. “Sounds like Jason was a very wise man.”
“He…he was.” Amy turned, buried her head on Rose’s shoulders and started sobbing. Steve let go of her hand as Rose encircled Amy in a hug. The tears flowed as Amy finally let herself cry freely. Rose held her, stroking her hair, murmuring to her that it would all be okay, and encouraging her to let it all out.
Steve opened his mouth to say something, but Rose caught his eye and shook her head slightly. He stopped and took a step back. With a tilt of her head, she signaled for him to go get the rental car. Steve nodded, touched Amy lightly on the shoulder, and left.
Amy continued sobbing quietly as Rose held her close. Slowly, the sobs subsided, and Amy caught her breath. She lifted her head and looked at Rose. “I’m sorry.”
“What, for getting my dress a little damp? Eh, it’s Florida. It happens down here.”
Amy laughed at that. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Rose.”
They started walking to the edge of the fountain. “Same as you always do, Amy. Survive. You’d pick yourself up, move forward and make the best life possible.”
Amy sat at the edge and started playing her fingers through the water. Rose sat next to her and smiled, then bent over, touching her forehead to her friend’s. In a low voice, she asked, “So, did he ever find out about your…you know…”
“My Talent?” Amy looked away for a moment, and then shook her head. “No. I started to tell him, but I never have to finish. But I think he may have already known, Rose. It’s like he understood about a special, weird skill like that.”
Rose considered this and nodded. “Well, we’ve still got unfinished business. We’re going to find Callahan, Amy. And I promise you, when we do, I’ll let you have five minutes alone with her.” Rose dipped her hands in the fountain and rinsed them off.
Amy smiled thinly. “I’ll only need two.” They shared a quiet laugh.
Rose stood up and stepped back. “I’ll give you a moment.” She moved a respectful distance away.
The fountain had stopped and the pool had smoothed to a mirror. Amy lay down at the edge and looked at the water. It seemed to stretch on forever, into infinity. For a moment, Amy felt if she just dove in and swam to the other edge of that infinite pool, Jason would be there, waiting for her, to take her in his arms again.
I love you, Jason. And nothing will ever change that. I promise you.
She dipped one finger into the water, and then on the gray concrete next to her traced the letters ‘JA’ and a heart around it. Closing her eyes, she brought her fingers to her lips and pressed them there, and then, reluctantly, took the kiss and touched it to Jason’s initials.
She stood up and wiped away another tear, then walked over to Rose, who had stood vigil for her. With a nod, they turned and headed back down the hill toward the rental car.
Behind her, the letters, the heart, and the kiss slowly evaporated and disappeared, gone forever.