Monday 13 February 2012

Radiance 2 - My beloved is knocking

Chapter 2 of my kabbalistic fantasy novel, 'Radiance'. I'd love to hear comments on how to improve the music/song-writing of this chapter.

Two years earlier...

27 Tishrei 5773
    Things were beginning to look up.
    Asher had his own place and a new job. It was all starting to come together.
    He smiled and sipped at his still hot coffee, fresh from the filter. And best of all he could work from home, for the hours that suited him best. Layla was calling to him from her stand in the corner. He picked her up and strummed a few chords. This was really going to be great, and no stupid arguments with his parents were going to change his mind. This was the future - no commute, no cubical, no bosses spying on him - and between calls he could do whatever he wanted. It was perfect.
    The phone rang.
    His parents were wrong. This job was fantastic.
    He set down Layla and answered the call as quickly possible.
    “Midnight Astrological Hotline, what is your name and star sign?”
    “Virgo,” answered a deep woman’s voice.
    “Is that your name or your star sign?”
    “I don’t believe in astrology.”
    “Well let me tell you what the future holds for Virgos then...” Asher tried to stick to the script he had been given.
    “Do you believe in fate, Asher?”
    He paused. “How do you know my name?”
    “Do you believe in fate?”
    “Of course,” he answered trying to make the best of the situation and thinking of the pay cheque at the end of the month, “this is the Midnight Astrological Hotline. Fate is our specialty.”
    “But do you believe in fate? Asher, understand that I ask this question because very soon there will be big changes in your life, you will see things you never thought possible, and when they come you will be faced with some stark choices. Is it fate? Is it destiny? Well Asher, do you believe?”
    “I guess not,” Asher answered. There was something oddly familiar about this woman’s voice but he couldn’t quite place it. It made him feel relaxed, at home. As if he could open his heart to her. “A friend of mine always said that fate was a crutch for the lazy.”
    “A wise friend indeed. I’ll be seeing you around, Asher. Keep up the guitar.”
    The handset went silent.
    Maybe his parents were right, he thought as he gulped down the coffee - this definitely was not a job for a Nice Jewish Boy.

12 Tishrei 5769
    “I say that fate is just a crutch for the lazy.”
    Asher couldn’t be bothered to answer, he just took another swig of the cool beer in his hand.
    “Am I right? Of course I am. Y’see,” Asher’s new roommate, Dan Black, continued, gesticulating wildly, sloshing beer on the linoleum as he did so. “People like you and me - we know that it’s all up to us, we have to get out there and be the change, y’know?”
    “Be the change?” Asher said.
    “Yeah, really be it. Fight the fight, drink the drink, win the girl.”
    “Yeah, I get it,” Asher said, the first chords already beginning to sound inside his head. “Be the change. Wait a sec, there’s a song coming.”
    Eagerly, Asher reached over to pick up Layla. Dan picked up a bit, sitting straight in his arm chair. It was after midnight but Asher was way past caring. This was going to be good.
    He put down the beer and began to hum to himself, waiting to find the right groove. Be the change you want to see, fight the fear and win the world, be the bold and be the brave, drink the drink and win the girl.
    There was a knock at the door.
    “Shit, the RA!” whispered Dan. “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with it.”
    He tested his breath, smoothed down his All-American Rejects shirt, and went to the door. Dan opened it a crack and peered out. He seemed surprised.
    “Can I help you?” he asked.
    Asher wasn’t really listening, the song was coming together, Dmin, Adim...
    “Hey, uh, there’s a lady at the door, says she wants a word.”
    Tomorrow does not bring itself, the fearless fight, the dance of day;
    “Tell her I’m not here,” he said absently.
    Dan went back to the door.
    Asher vaguely heard him relay his message. A woman replied, in a deep, resonant voice that sounded almost familiar, though he couldn’t place it.
    Make the world as it seems you must, kick and scream and shout and pray...
    The door closed, Dan sat back down on his arm chair. Asher just kept on playing.

3 Tishrei 5757
    It was Asher’s first guitar lesson.
    He held the instrument awkwardly in his small arms, trying to look like a rock and roll star. He thought he must be very grown up.
    The small guitar felt warm in his hands. Comfortable, well-fitting. Unlike his clothes that he had already outgrown but still had to wear. Asher made a face. He hated hand-me-downs.
    The guitar called him back, ever so carefully, he plucked a note with his right hand. The vibrations ran through his leg, through the stool and to the floor. It felt good so he did it again, and again.
    Outside, the teacher, Mrs. Barth, was talking to some woman. He didn’t know who, he hadn’t seen her. Her voice was warm and low, resonating like the bass note of the guitar itself. He heard the words but they did not register.
    “How is he?” the other woman was asking.
    “He holds it well, like he should. I can’t say I’m surprised.” Mrs. Barth replied. She seemed to be an older woman - but to Asher all adults seemed old and it was hard to differentiate.
    “Will he be ready?”
    “He’s still only a child, is this really necessary?” His teacher replied.
    “I make long-term plans,” the other woman answered.
    “I suppose you do.”
    “So will he be ready?”
    “I think so. There’s still time.”
    “Time is a luxury - maybe only twenty years at best.”
    Mrs Barth sighed.
    “What about you?” the woman asked Asher’s teacher.
    “If the darkness wakes and rises, if the Son of Ephraim comes forth, if the great horn is sounded, will you be ready? Are you ready?”
    “Give me a break. It isn’t Yom Kippur yet. Still got seven days to get everything in order.”
    The other woman grunted and then was silent, the sound of footsteps echoed down the school corridor.
    “There’s still time,” Mrs. Barth repeated, mostly to herself.
    She opened the door to the practice room and came in. Asher was still playing the same note, strumming the E string, feeling the note.
    “That’s quite enough of that, Asher,” said Mrs. Barth a little sternly.
    “It’s time for your first lesson. Let’s learn to play some chords.”

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