In the room, at the building that housed numerous melodies and various sets of floating notes, at the far end of the hall, there was te stuck in the air, suspended in the tension. It had been a crack in the unsteady melody, the one to make the building’s flow of crippling sounds collapse and disperse into the heavy air of cumulated sweat and the odd smell of cooked chicken, coupled with overall sense of misery. Just like the building, the room was met with countless sorts of wailing coming from instruments. Sometimes there would be harsh thuds on the piano keys or squeals by the flutes, other times there would be creaks in melodies and squeaks of strings. Yet mostly what happened next after hours spent there would be more shifts, turns, and groans, hastily followed by a rash flutter of paper, scattered around the floor.
May it be different notions of expression by the residents in the room, fancily called The Gate to Hell by most of the students after many had given voice to their frustrations, yet the pattern would be similar and lead to the strained feeling of dejectedness.
However, there was something more to the little practice room, a part which the walls, the corners, the door, the floor, and the window would know it the most.
Among the heavy feelings, when disappointment met effort and created misery amplified by the cracks in sounds and lack of power to go on, there arose a new sensation.
For the room, it was something slow to create, yet quick to go away, leaving a pleasant aftertaste to linger in the smelly air. Sometimes the difference grew steadily, gradually when at the end a gate opened to another place, locked within the four walls and the player’s mind.
But at times a breakthrough would come at random, mercilessly mercurial to the mind, yet captivating jittery feelings and circling thoughts only to lock them onto the piece of music.
Up in the air hovered a flow of soothing melody…
Another one, a slip of hand and strings formed a torrent of cacophonical nonsense.
She felt her breath hang in the air. Despite it being the middle of the summer, frost seeped into her.
Her fingers remained stiff, held back by the constant tries to redo everything, from the very beginning, painstakingly nit-picking at every little mistake.
Shifting, the hand was positioned again.
The start was rocky, heavy on the ears, but grew better and better, calmly prodding forward.
Just to crack at the same spot.
There was no music. It became quiet, as pages fluttered onto the ground.
Again. That was her thought as she looked at her feet, her body tired, and mind restless.
She had been razing the instrument the whole time, trying to make time to re her sense and better her technique, going through the notes, looking over the pile of sheets, and not seeing any point of continuing.
The smell of someone’s old chicken grated on her nose. For the umpteenth time, she looked out of the window.
What previously were blistering rays of the sun that had been filtering through the window, making it easier to feel the sweat on her back, slowly vanished behind a dense array of gray clouds that covered the once clear sky.
One after another, in an unhurried manner, droplets of rain fell uncaringly onto the ground, lazily hitting the window surface. They drummed against the glass in a messy arrangement of beats. The chatter of people on the outside meshed with the oncoming drops of rain as the sky turned an even darker shade.
It carried on, the drops that came softly greeting, only to slowly flow down in a goodbye.
Then, a sharp intake of breath.
She moved closer to the window. Even if the touch of listless despair still hung on her fingers, her heart was set in motion to redo it again. Time spent on practice crushed and squeezed her wholly, yet the tiny pressure in the back always pushed her to try more and more, letting her thoughts sway and feelings erupt.
A huff and she adjusted her violin.
In a messy order, as if to match the irregular hits of rain, a note followed another one, then after a few pulls, the apprehensive start morphed into a melody, which grew more confident and strangely happy in tone.
It carried the mood of the rain, in its unhurried manner and cool feeling, but was founded upon years of work, and hours of preparation for this particular piece.
She would pull, shift, and turn, and the violin would sing a piece swayed by the rain’s mood.
And out of the walls, tiny green stalks grew, the flower crowns poking out in curiosity. It was an even rhythm to which more stalks came out of the ground, spanning out of the whole floor like the clouds taking over the sky.
As if to outdo the gray outside, with each stroke tiny flowers bloomed.
To the tact of the piece the room became filled with various wildflowers on the gently glowing green.
Her mind became hazier, yet clearer and at the same time, in a way, the music wrapped her heart and let her freely feel the mood, the rain, and smell the greenery around.
In the midst of a rainy afternoon, with no trilling of insects or the chatter of people to pollute the air, the room glowed as the music went on.
The pace picked up, the tension rose, and her fingers didn’t stop, but moved in a rough dance on the strings.
It was no longer to rest in the mood and seep into the quiet, it morphed into a battle of fervent glee, uncaring for the technicalities, just for the raw joy of the moment.
Her blood raced through her veins, the notes no longer caring to keep to the sheets, abandoned on the floor. It was her moment, and the feeling of elation to bring into the piece, not fretting over and over again on the notes, that currently brought out the sweet smell of summer into the place of greenery.
A place that arose from years of effort and an afternoon’s whim to indulge herself.
As her mind morphed with the beat of the rain and her fingers traced the notes, a strange fragrance flooded the room, and as the she pulled her bow abruptly down, she could breathe in the smell of lilacs and feel the stalks of warm grass.
That was the secret of the room, where one could find the way back to taste the bliss of missing and playing whilst growing a place to breath, grow, and enjoy.
It lasted all but a few minutes, then the greenery ceased to glow, and the fragrance went back to someone’s old chicken, but the lingering feel of excitement left her a pleasant aftertaste.
It was fun.
It was a pleasure.
It was how she found the gate to heaven, however short-lived it felt, in a room at the back of a building, where she felt the wooden floor and the paper by her soles again as the rain unperturbedly dripped onto the window.
Victoria Reiniger is a student in Berlin. She has an uncanny love for sweets and pierogi. Her work has appeared in Firewords Magazine.