When the Music stops
Your name plays on…
For you are the notes
In every love song…
Eily Nash -2018
When the Music stops
Your name plays on…
For you are the notes
In every love song…
Eily Nash -2018
© Eily Nash 2018
“If you could, would you?” He looked at her quizzically.
“Just askin’…” Her smile held the promise of a secret she may or may not share.
Intrigued, he decided to indulge her cryptic question. “Fly around the world in a day? No, too far! Climb a volcano, thats another no, too hot! Sit on an iceberg with a Polar Bear in the North Pole, Brrr much too cold!”
“None of those things Cooper, they are too um…mundane… That isn’t the nature of the question!”
“Join a camel train and cross the Arabian desert to sip rosewater at an oasis?” Is that fanciful enough?” He saw a flicker of light in her dark eyes, decided to close her down, this was getting too deep and the game was about to start. “No, not for me!”
“Why? It’s not too far, not too dangerous, not too cold, hmm unless maybe at night. You could keep warm sipping potent Arak, and with the heady scent of incense burning wrap your arms around your true love and make love to me by moonlight and starlight! “
Cooper looked taken aback and out of his depth. He didn’t want fancy Arabian Liquor when there was a case of Coors on ice. Forget heady incense, the only smoke he wanted was twenty Marlboro Lights. And as for the desert, well his true love the New York Giants were playing in Las Vegas and the clock was on countdown to kick off.
“Is it because it is too hot? Don’t you like it hot?” Was there just a hint of sarcasm in her voice? “Afraid you may get burnt?”
“The Arabian desert is a big place just to grab a drink, and what if the Oasis was no more than a mirage, I’d be left very thirsty, can you grab me a Coors the game is starting in like two minutes.”
Purposely not taking the pointed hint Stella pressed on, “What if it isn’t more than a mirage? Unless you make the journey, you will never know.”
Walking into the kitchen, she filled herself a large glass of chilled Californian Chardonnay, took a slow sip and then another…The wine cooling her rising ire. It was all about him, it was always all about him. Saturday night, and all dressed up with no where to go, except another one way ticket to boredom city. She downed the wine, filled another glass, grabbed Cooper a beer and determined not to loose his attention stood in front of the T.V set.
“…In answer to my question ‘ If you could, would you?’ instead of sitting there watching life, what if you tried actually living life then what exciting, wonderful and amazing thing would you do?” Her voice had a sharp edge, the wine kicking in, unable to bite back the bitterness she felt.
He looked at her at a loss how to reply. Should he tell her if he could, he would shut her up, make her go away and let him watch the Giants in peace? Something in him knew he couldn’t give her what she wanted, never could, never would. She was different from all the women who had loved him and left him, a free spirit he had managed to trap and he was not about to let go, so he indulged her little flights of fancy, even though they bored him, then made sure the bars of the prison he constructed around her grew stronger and stronger, and her world grew smaller and smaller.
Seeing and mis-reading the panic in his eyes, she clasped his hands, trying to pull him up toward her. He remained seated, resolutely focussed on the TV screen behind her.
“Cooper! If you could, would you please put me first? If you could, would you please notice me?” And if you can’t would you please set me free to be with someone who would actually appreciate me?!”
“Stella, you mean everything to me, all I do, baby, you know I do it for you. Been a long week at work. The stock exchange is brutal, give a guy a break…Make it up to you. Can we set the world on fire tomorrow, You go to Nieman Marcus and get a fancy new gown and I’ll take you out to that new Fifth Avenue restaurant all the celebrities go to. The first game of the NFL season is about to start, so for tonight how ’bout you fix us a bowl of chips and join me on the couch.”
The weight of too many broken promises hung heavy in the air between them. Stella knew whatever Cooper did was all for him, none of it was for her. She also knew he was the one truly trapped, for in her mind she could always fly free…
With a sad smile she said, “I’m tired too Cooper, do you mind if I leave you to watch T.V you know ball games are not my thing?”
He nodded, relieved, “Sure thing baby, can you just grab those chips before you go?”
Stella walked back into the kitchen. Looking out over the glistening lights of the New York skyline she felt trapped in her Manhattan penthouse. Some where over the East River the stars were shining, but with all the light pollution she couldn’t see them. Stella downed the rest of her wine, wiped away the threat of hot tears and did as Cooper bid, as she always did. The Emperor called and the nightingale sang…
“Don’t get up to any mischief in your dreams, Stella!” A dismissive peck on the lips made sure she didn’t linger.
He knew where she was, safely tucked up in his bed. Once she was asleep he’d trawl through her emails and cell phone, just to make sure no hidden threat was lurking. He’d never managed to find anything incriminating, but that didn’t stop him looking. Couldn’t be doing with any one coming in and filling her head with nonsense. There was a way to handle sensitive types like his Stella, just pretend to go along with it all and then let her know she had hit a brick wall. He knew she’d tire soon enough and go off to sleep leaving him in peace. Dismissing her from his mind, comfortable in his T shirt and shorts he chugged his beer, lit a Marlboro and settled back to watch the Giants kick ass.
♥ ♥ ♥
Her pillows were plush filled with Canadian goose down, the sheets cool Egyptian cotton. Stella slipped off her blue velvet dress and eased into the king sized bed. She could have cried but her tears had dried up a long time ago.
As she drifted of to sleep, the reflection of Manhattan’s myriad of lights reflecting on the East River became a starlit sea. And in a tiny sailing boat Stella’s nocturnal journey took her away from her Penthouse cage to freedom. She travelled by moonlight and starlight to a distant shore where he was waiting, in a place where love lived forevermore. The man of her dreams. Together they lived, they laughed, they loved.
And when she asked him “If you could, would you…?” He answered “If I could, I would love you for eternity Stella!
“Would you?” She whispered.
“Stella, I would stop time for you and hold you in my arms forever!”
And sweeping her up, her lover carried Stella further into the land of dreams.
She smiled in her sleep, knowing she wasn’t doing anything wrong…
After all, you are innocent when you dream…
© Eily Nash 2018
Do you believe in love at first sight? If you had asked me that question six months ago I would have said categorically no. I am rational man with a rational job. That is until the day she crossed my path. I guess I was in the space to let her in. Life was getting mundane. You know yourself. You wake up, kiss the wife, go to work, come home, kiss the wife. Sleep.
Dreamless nights that pass too fast, then you wake up and do it all again. It’s what we do. Without question. The days of wine and roses, who needs them? Once the golden band is on her finger, then the deal is sealed. Job done. Then time, crafty, insidious time, starts eating away at you. The minutes turn into years and you don’t notice because you are so busy waking up, kissing the wife, going to work, coming home, kissing the wife and sleeping. Then somehow, without even knowing how it happens you don’t kiss anymore. When did romance die? Where did you loose yourself? Then all you have is this familiarity and distance and a strange feeling that something is missing. A longing. A longing for what? How can you even answer the question when you know something is wrong, but you are scared of the answer? Too close a look and the careful world you have constructed to keep the wolf from the door and the bear firmly outside your cave is suddenly not so safe anymore. So the indefinable something ‘wrong’ becomes the new normal. And everything goes on the same, evenings spent alone downstairs, my wife upstairs with some pulp fiction for company. Vague stirrings of guilt. Why did she need to read that stuff? Didn’t she have me? Vague stirrings of regret, we were all right weren’t we? What if the romantic fix she got from the pages of her books didn’t cut it and she wanted more, from me, or someone else? Would I have anything left to give, or even care? I thought about going up and joining her, taking the book out of her hand and telling I was here, I was real. Notice me. I wanted to tell her I had my own hopes, dreams and desires and if she would only listen then I would share them with her and she wouldn’t be white noise anymore. But how do you come back from too many years of comfortably numb? I didn’t want to look too closely at that and shoved the awkward feeling deep down inside and just let it go.
Time ticking away, your life ebbing, second by second. Every moment one-step closer to the grave and nothing in between. I had heard all about mid life crisis, even knew a few of the boys at work who had gone through it. Hit forty and hit a brick wall. The sudden desire for a tattoo, a Harley, a fast car, even a quick fling or two with whoever was willing. I’ve seen it end in tears, broken hearts and broken bones. Not me, I thought, won’t happen to me. No one told me about mid life madness. No one told me about Love, not love like this. Obsessive, crazy, can’t get her out of my mind love. I work, she’s there. I drive, she’s there. I’m sat across the table from my wife. We eat. We have nothing to say, apart from the usual catch up on the day stuff. It doesn’t matter, because she is there. Inside my mind. My wife is talking, but long ago I ceased listening. White noise. I smile. I nod. I agree. Whatever she wants, whatever it takes. Eventually my tactics pay off and there is blessed peace. I indicate I will be up in a while and she goes to bed, alone. Silence washes over me, a soothing mantle. And all I want is to go off, alone too. I want to picture her, be with her, the woman living in my mind. But it’s all a crazy dream. Or is it?
I first met her late one Friday night after a very long day in Manhattan’s Financial District. I wanted to relax and the old fashioned comfort of Harry’s Bar Midtown hit the right note. I should have asked the cab to take me home to Brooklyn Heights, instead I walked in off the busy street into a cavernous basement. The walls were lined with vintage photographs from Hollywood’s golden days. The décor was oak and leather, low lights, discreet booths and reminiscent of a gentleman’s club from a bygone age. Somewhere someone was playing smooth jazz on a saxophone. The bluesy notes washed over me, soothing, with the music literally hitting just the right note. Cigarette in one hand, single malt over ice in the other, I settled back into the comfort of a big leather chair. I took a deep drag of my nicotine hit. Through the haze of smoke she appeared. Long, long dark hair, falling in tumbling waves over her slender back. And her eyes. Oh those eyes. Luminous, lovely and inviting. She was a goddess and she was there, right in front of me. I sat up and paid more attention to a woman than I had in the last seven years. More attention than I had paid to my wife in the longest time. Did I feel guilty? No. There was something in me that needed her. And here she was, in all her radiant beauty and she was present, right here, right now, a timeless goddess of the silver screen invading the recesses of my hungry mind.
“The words you don’t say speak louder than those you do.” She was a mind reader as well. I covered my embarrassment with a slug of whiskey. I resisted the urge to ask her if she came here often. Despite her soft southern drawl it was obvious she was always here. I wondered just how many men had sat here and gazed on her loveliness. How many men had she looked at with those faraway eyes? How many men had thought of running their hands through her luxurious long locks, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing those luscious lips. I was getting out of my depth. Stubbing out my cigarette and draining my drink I stood up to leave. At that moment I was lost and she knew it, catching my eye her gaze said, “You’ll be back.” And I was. I was finding reasons to go to Harry’s bar with the boys or alone. Never with my wife. I knew Maude would be there. Waiting. That seductive gaze, those eyes, I could drown in the depths of emotional intensity. My wife truly would not have understood. How would I find the words to explain just how or why another woman’s beauty had the power to speak to my very soul? Maude listened to me. I found myself pouring out how I felt about my wife, about myself. I told her I didn’t understand just how we had ended up in this big freeze. Where was the passion, the magic? When had the fire gone out? I told Maude everything I could not tell my wife. I got the feeling she would have liked to meet my elusive wife. But how could I introduce them? How could I explain Maude, who she was and what she meant to me? I loved her for her beauty, her glamour and mystery. She had the allure of an icon of the silver screen. She was there, she was present but she wasn’t. I could look but I could not touch. She had made that clear. But I could dream. You are innocent when you dream. Maude knew these things and she knew I adored her. She didn’t judge me. There was no blame, no weight of disappointment for things I had done, and things I had failed to do. With Maude I was free to be me. A man with hopes fears and desires and she understood and that was huge, and with all my heart I wished my wife would too. I was out of my depth and I was drowning. I guess it was only a matter of time before my wife found out.
The questions had started. ‘What time will you be home? Why are you late? Where have you been? Out with the boys again, really!’ I had no answers. No excuses. I closed down. Maude or my wife? It was becoming a very hard call. Maude was becoming my drug of choice. I needed her. I didn’t need the third degree. After all I was innocent, wasn’t I? Innocent when you dream…And dream I did. As I climbed into bed each night I envisaged she was there with me accompanying me into the realms of fantasy.
‘I am an actress,’ she said, ‘A weaver of dreams and a maker of magic!’
‘Maude, you are luminous! Do you have a gold star on Hollywood Boulevard? Take me there!’
‘My star is a long way from Hollywood. Search the night sky for the Morning star and you will find me. I am your Immortal Flame. I am your goddess of love. Always remember Love conquers all.’
Together we travelled the World and danced under starlight skies. We banqueted within Castle walls, she was my Princess and I her Knight and somewhere a Troubadour strummed a mandolin and sang of our love. We visited the Alhambra Palace, walked hand through the Court of the myrtles and beneath the Andalucía sun she whispered sweet words to me. In the shadow of the iconic monument to love, The Taj Mahal, I became her Rajah and whispered words of devotion to her, my beloved Rani.
The mornings came, I awoke next to my wife, with her back turned to me. The gulf between us was now an aching chasm and I felt a wrenching loss in the pit of my stomach.
The night they finally came face to face with each other is etched on my mind. A cold November and the big freeze between my wife and I was now arctic in its intensity. Something would have to give. Even a row would show there was some passion left, some depth of feeling. I felt so surplus to requirement, the weight of her disappointment in me was becoming a burden too heavy to handle.
‘Don’t wait up. I have to work very late. I may sleep at the office.’ And I was out the door before she could question me. I had plans for tonight and I would face the music in the morning. Right now there was a fire raging and if I didn’t quench it, then I risked being subsumed in the heat of my own desire and aching need to be with Maude.
I got to the bar early, before the evening rush. I wanted to be at our table where I had first set eyes on Maude. The bartender, now familiar with my order, started pouring my favourite single malt Scotch, Glenmorangie, over ice. I settled back into the comfort of the deep leather chair and lit a cigarette. This is where it had begun. Maude was waiting for me, beautiful as ever. Every time I gazed at her I saw perfection and paradoxes, beauty both beguiling and innocent. I wanted to reach out and protect her. I wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her I would keep the wolf from the door and bad at bay. I looked into her eyes looking at me from a distant place and time, and saw her sadness and saw her soul. She was a star from a bygone age that shone so bright she still lit up my lonely night. But she wasn’t real. She was a fantasy. No matter how much I longed to take her in my arms, to love her, Maude would never be mine for she belonged in the firmament above. From her gaze I saw she knew that I, as so many others before and after me, would always be hers. A captive of beauty. It was time to say goodbye. It was over.
‘Go home,’ Maude said, ‘what you see in me, you first saw in her. What you feel for me, you first felt for her and you will again.’
The weight of loss was too much to bear. The double life I had been leading, the freezing cold at home that had caused ice to form over my heart had been melted by the passion I had felt for a woman who was not my wife. I had been beguiled by beauty, Maude had touched my soul and I would never be the same again. A great wracking sob clawed its way out of my throat and I sat, head in my hands and I cried.
I felt her arms around me. Warm, loving and strong. She sat on the arm of the leather armchair and cradled me. Slowly she pulled my hands from my tear stained face and her soft mouth gently kissed my sorrow away. I looked into her eyes and saw the depth of love she felt for me and my heart began to beat fast. She was so beautiful, she was here beside me and she wanted me…I took her by the hand and asked her would she come home with me because I very much wanted to make love to her. She stood up and pulled me to her. I kissed her with a passion and intensity I had long forgotten and all the love and feeling inside me washed away the years. I was a man with hopes, feelings and desires and my wife understood, she always had and that was why she was here tonight.
‘How did you know?’
‘I know you,’ she replied. ‘I saw the way you looked at her photographs on the Internet, over and over. I watched you fall under her spell. How many men has she enchanted? You are not the first and you will not be the last. I wanted you to look at me that way, the way you did before we both forgot why we had been enchanted by each other.’
‘And you forgive me?’
‘Yes. Maude’s beauty is her gift to the world. Beauty that speaks to the soul. She spoke to you and her silent words told a story of love, romance, hope and desire. And I heard.’
As we walked hand and hand out into the New York night air we turned and took a final look at Maude Fealy, an Edwardian beauty and movie star from a bygone age, as she watched over us from her home encased in a silver frame on the ‘wall of fame’ at Harry’s Hollywood bar.
At that hour just before dawn wakes a sleepy world, as I lay entwined with my wife I happened to look out at the night sky. And there she was, true to her word. Venus, Goddess of Love.
My Morning Star.
© Eily Nash
Thank you for reading!
From my book Nightshades~A collection of supernatural Tales
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Brushing aside the despair cloaking the ancient ruins, La Luna’s children playfully danced amid dank and gloomy walls all that remained of the glories of the past. With carefree abandon the darting moonbeams brought illumination to the derelict Eastern Tower, a silent Sentinel withstanding the ravages of time, proudly giving testament to the pride and glory of bygone years. Those who once lived and loved within the Castle’s protective embrace are but jagged shards of memories, forever entombed within decrepit walls. Yet there remains a solitary voice from long ago compelled to whisper her sadness upon the wind. Trapped by her heart she cannot leave her lonely Bower within the Castle Tower.
By the light of the moon, at her lonely loom, sits Lady Perdita. The passage of time has ravaged her home but not she, for the lady is comely still. With hair as dark as a Raven’s wing and eyes of cobalt blue, her beauty beguiles the starless night, for there is no other to gaze upon her countenance within these torn and empty walls. Softly, she sings a sad lament, fragments from a Troubadour’s tale of a love long lost. Sorrow clouds her as a shroud. With downcast eyes and ethereal hands she takes soft strands of numinous threads and weaves silently through her tears. Through the telling of her silken tales there begins to unfold a story of love, a story of loss. The lost love of a Knight of old. Her Knight…Her story…
To the soft strains of a melancholy Mandolin every stitch of the Knight’s chivalrous deeds begin to unfold upon her fragile tapestry.
Sir Allard, encased in his suit of armour and clutching his sword of steel, mounted his dashing destrier. He basked in the admiration he drew from the assembly of illustrious Lords and Ladies, all too aware all eyes were on him. He smiled knowing both damsels and Dowagers were dazzled by his presence. As he graciously bestowed generous glances upon the Ladies fair, Perdita smiled trustingly. She knew within his brave breast beat the chivalrous heart of one who only had eyes for her. And so with a righteous fire burning in his heart and mounting his noble steed the valiant Knight bade Adieu to his assembled Court and proudly rode to war.
Satisfied with the vibrancy of the first scene, Perdita left her loom and her labour of love. Gazing out of the window her searching heart went forth once more into the blanket of night, looking and longing for her Gallant Knight who had sailed from England’s green and pleasant lands to faraway shores. With a sigh she returned to her tapestry, intent on weaving the threads of her fragrant memories, did she know how their story would unfold?
There is a chill that pervades her bower, yet her shivers are not from cold, but the delightful anticipation of her noble Knight’s triumphant return. The glory! The honour! How her heart sang joyfully for him! She wrapped her self in the warm glow of the sweet words of eternal love he had spoken. How her heart ached when she recalled her initial reluctance upset him so. His entreaties were urgent. Why would she not acquiesce to his burning desires? He protested his Lady was so cruel to tarry, for he had great perils to face. The sweet memories of her succour would comfort him upon the bloody battlefields. Surely his heart would rend in two if she did not return his love! Perdita was torn. She cried bitter tears. As a highborn Lady she would bring dishonour to her family if she lay with him without the sanctity of a wedding band. Kissing her tears away, her chivalrous Knight declared they would marry upon his victorious return from the beast of war. With lyrical persuasion Allard’s conquest was assured. Cautioning Perdita to keep her own counsel and keep their tryst secret, he gave her a ring of gold set with a ruby. The dazzling red gemstone held the promise of eternal love and bought her silence.
Through the cloak of darkness a mote of light broke through the night, bringing momentary illumination. Perdita’s fragile heart skipped a beat. Was that her Knight she saw? Cruel memories came crashing into her dreams. A tear fell. Her beloved had sailed away across the seven seas. He had abandoned his Lover to her fate and all for the King’s glory, crusading in a faraway Land. Watching the passage of many Moon tides from her lonely Bower she entreated the star clad night to light his way home, before her shame was there for all to see. Highborn Lady Perdita, who some may say was without blame, could not be seen to be robed in tarnished garments of dishonour as the seed of new life grew within her belly. Yet she held her head high, comforted by their unborn child’s quickening and Allard’s reassurances. For her Knight would surely return and she would be his wife, and all judgement would pass, would it not?
The dying embers of the old year brought tidings of great sorrow. Sir Allard would nevermore see the sunrise or set upon England’s Sceptered Isle. Nor give his child his rightful name. Enemy and Gallantry had brought him to his knees. Ever true to her Love, Perdita kept her counsel well. For the Templar’s cause her brave Knight willingly gave his life. For her family honour, Perdita gave hers.
They found her at the break of day, her lifeless and broken body lying at the foot of castle walls. A ruby ring upon her unwed hand glinted in the pale winter sunlight. The fallen Lady was laid to rest beneath her lonely bower whilst far away under an Eastern Sun her Lover sleeps beneath shifting sands.
The solitary passage of time has shrouded the castle walls in creeping ivy, shadows and gloom. Yet awaiting her Lover’s return Perdita’s ghost still sits by her loom, lingering midst the rot and decay, trusting Love eternal will raise their hearts from the ashes and dust of betrayal. Her Love lives on, though they are all long dead…
Perchance, your steps take you through the ruined walls of the Castle Keep, they do say by pale moon light and night’s embrace, you may yet hear the strains of a mandolin as the lonely Lady weeps within her ghostly bower.
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Thank you for reading a ghostly tale from my latest book!
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