A Midnight Melody

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This is a short story I wrote from listening to Miles Davis' 'Round Midnight.

A Midnight Melody

Every Friday night, Celia sits at the bar in her favorite jazz club in New York City. Tonight, the club is giving tribute to the late and great Miles Davis. The house band begins to play “‘Round Midnight” as the bartender brings Celia her third dry martini.

“A drink gets lonely, if you let it sit too long,” says Celia to the the bartender as she finishes her drink with one casual sip.

In a week, Celia will turn forty. Three days after her birthday will mark the fifth anniversary of her husband’s death. He was a trumpeter. Every Friday night, she sat in the same bar stool she sits in now, feeling her soul touch his while he played.

The musicians on stage are faceless to Celia. A couple arguing, glass shattering behind the bar and the sound of a lighter igniting are all blocked out in her mind. The only sounds she hears is the restless playing and the beautiful fidgety riffs of the jazz music. The musical notes transfuse through her veins, finding a home in her heart. She doesn’t need to look at old photos or tell stories of her husband. Their memories lie within the music.

Celia’s drinks are put on her tab that's long enough to fill a scroll. Walking out of the club, “‘Round Midnight” continues to play in her head. Her apartment is only two blocks away, but she decides to stop at the drug store before returning home.

The drug store owner doesn’t look surprised to see Celia and kindly smiles at her as she walks in. “Good evening Mrs. Moretti. I’ve put aside a bottle of champagne for another one of your lavish swarays. Don’t you ever get tired of having company over?” Celia rambles through her purse, pulling out her wallet. “Surrounding yourself with others means never having an empty shadow. Oh… And throw in a lottery ticket, I’m feeling lucky today.”

Celia begins to hum “‘Round Midnight” as the orangish-red leaves of fall crackle beneath her feet. She hears an extra set of footsteps and turns around to find an out-of-breath Pomeranian licking the toe of her shoe. A relieved elderly couple, carrying an empty dog leash, gives their gratitude to Celia. As they walk away, her eyes bear the reflection of the couple with arms interlocked.

They turn the corner and the image in her eyes has changed. She envisions the scenes of her life that may never be shot. Ethan and her never planned for the future. They followed the doctrine of Emerson and Thoreau, living lives of spontaneity and intuition. Death took Ethan away from her and she believes, in time, death will take her back to him. Her thoughts are interrupted by shouts in the far-off distance.

A young man in jogging pants and a bright yellow parka runs frantically towards her. “Miss…You’re ticket! You dropped you’re ticket!” He finally catches up to Celia and stops short before nearly crashing into her. Looking in her purse, she realizes her lottery ticket is gone and kindly takes the ticket from his now sweaty palms. She thanks him and taps her feet to “‘Round Midnight” as she walks away.

“Wait…Do you happen to have a light?” He asks hesitantly, placing his trembling hands in his coat pockets. “No,” she says with an apologetic smile. “Oh…Good, otherwise I’d have wasted fifty bucks for nothing.” He lifts his sleeve and reveals a nicotine patch on his upper arm. Under laughter’s spell, they unnoticeably walk down the block together, reaching the stoop to Celia’s apartment building.

Stopping at the foot of her steps, Celia nervously fumbles for her keys. “I guess this is where we end." Celia hops up two steps and turns around facing him. Removing his watch from his wrist, he lays it flat on the ground and smashes it with the sole of his shoe. “There, now our time has no end,” he says while grinning slyly. Celia is unimpressed by his outlandish gesture. "Time’s relentless. It mocks us in the mirror every morning, reminding us of our mortality.”

Celia begins to open the door, but when she looks back to say goodbye, she notices his feet placed within her shadow. “If you’d like to come up, I guess I have time for one drink,” she says with apathy cloaked over her face. On the sidewalk, beneath the shattered pieces, lays the watch. Both hands are frozen at the twelve o’clock position. The street is darkly desolate, but the moon acts as Earth’s nightlight. The wind blows away a crinkled newspaper, landing near a storm drain. The headline reads: “Man suspected of murder is released on bail.” As they step into her place, the trumpet solo in “‘Round Midnight” begins as the door slowly creaks shut.

Created: Dec 02, 2010


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