Beachwood High School
Instructor: Craig Alexander
A Flight to Paradise
A Flight to Paradise
It was nearly dinnertime when Dahlia returned home. She hurried inside, avoiding the attention of the servants and rushed to the practice room. She slammed the door behind her and made her way to her desk. From a monogamy compartment safely tucked underneath her desk, she retrieved her notebook. Even if her parents forbade her to compose music, Dahlia still continued to write though only short verses to keep her parents at bay. She was so talented that she'd often hear the melody from afar without the assistance of her violin.
Tonight she had stayed late up finishing the final edits to one of her newest pieces. The practice room always seemed to give her so much 'inspiration'. For some reason, Dahlia could vividly imagine the tune of the string of notes made on the page. She swung her legs back and forth, contemplating the notes in silence. A surge of pride swept through her as she held the pages in triumph in the air.
No sooner had her excitement peaked than did she hear the footsteps of her father approach her from behind. "My dear, what is that you have there?" Her father asked. Dahlia furtively closed her music notebook and replaced it with her journal full of her novice attempts at poetry.
He stooped to pick up the little book in her hands. Luckily, he'd picked the wrong one and frowned at what he read on the page. Dahlia's father paused and slowly flipped through the pages with his frown deepening as he continued. Dahlia waited in silence as she cringed at his expressions. She needed an excuse for what she was doing in the practice room for hours even when she hadn't been practicing, so she came up with the excuse that she had taken to the passion of writing terrible poetry. And it wasn't only her who believed that her rhythm of words was atrocious, her teacher had admonished her for what she'd written in school.
"Still writing poetry, are you? Wasting paper for these useless words! Well girl, why don't you make yourself useful and practice. No one gets any better by simply daydreaming all day. Next week, you have another show in Milan. Don't disappoint," her father replied briskly, shutting the door as he left.
Dahlia sighed as she watched her father leave. She hadn't seen her parents in a couple of months and hadn't wished for this conversation to end so quickly. She once again ventured to the time when they'd been closer together as a family when she and Mateo were much younger. It's only wishful thinking, she thought to herself as she retreated back into her music notebook.
Just as her father had left and the door was closing, a hand slipped through and caught it. "Come on, little sis, what are you working on this late now?" Mateo asked. He'd always been kind towards Dahlia even when she was kept in the dark. He encouraged her to write and even helped her compose some etudes. His eyes shone with curiosity as he cast a sidelong glance in the hallway, before stepping wholly into the practice room. Clear. What a relief.
Dahlia failed to replace her book casually this time. Mateo ruffled her hair and effortlessly snatched her composing book from the floor as she scowled.
She sighed, finally knowing that she couldn't hide it any longer. "Freshest piece on the table, would you care to hear it?"
Mateo paused. "It wouldn't happen to have a harmony part, would it?"
Dahlia's smile told everything and Mateo couldn't hide his guilt any longer. Mateo looked into her eyes and a wave of sympathy overcame him.
"I wrote this for next week's show in Milan. You're just as good with the cello, right?" she teased. "I thought we could do a number together. Care to accompany me?" Mateo froze. He loved his sister dearly and wanted her to be recognized for her work. He knew what she was suggesting and his heart sickened with dread.
While Dahlia had secretly been writing, he'd been at work trying to balance his practice while searching for a job where he could support himself and Dahlia. He was now eighteen, and that meant he could leave home. He knew his parents never appreciated Dahlia for her talent and that only enraged him.
He quickly regained himself. "Of course."
They rushed to their instruments located near the magnificent piano and began to unpack. Their instruments were irreplaceable and one of a kind, individually designed to match the musician. At the time, the local Italian luthiers would carve instruments entirely made from new wood. They'd first come up with special designs which were believed to make their instrument connect to the musician, these would then be engraved on the wood Dahlia fingered her violin, tracing her fingers along the curves and edges of the instrument. She held it in her hands and quietly admired the art of the scroll and then settled on studying the carvings her parents had custom designed.
The front violin was engraved with dahlia flowers encircled with little green leaves. From the leaves and extending along the violin's ribs were vines that met on the back of the violin where there was another enormous dahlia flower. All the floral patterns were outlined with a violet pigment. Dahlia curled her fingers around the bow which was drawn of more vines.
She turned to Mateo as he set up the music stands. He scanned through the lines just a bit and knew that Dahlia had written the piece in G Minor. Mateo loved G Minor and once again he was reminded of what she was subtly suggesting.
Ignoring his increasing feelings of anxiety, Mateo began first with a soft, mellow tone. Though playing softly, he articulated every note in a slur and kept the melody away from any jagged ends. Dahlia waited until she heard the melody yearning for her company and then she joined in. Her dramatic chord highlighted her presence and soon her sound strayed from the harmony. Eventually after the melody was chorused from one to the other, their sounds intertwined with one another giving in to the other, and taking turns on who would be heard. With the music overlapping, Dahlia and Mateo swayed gently, enveloped in a sea of notes. The world seemed to dissolve behind them and the two were caught up in an eternal dance.
From Dahlia's violin, a green light emerged from the instrument's carvings while the markings on Mateo's cello evoked a golden glow. Soon the radiance transformed into thick green vines and budding blossoms wrapped the brother and sister in an embrace. The two heeded no attention to the garden growing around them until a thorny rose vine pricked Dahlia's arm. She opened her eyes immediately and the music stopped. She let out an unseemly scream and crashed headfirst into her score which daintily brushed his fingers and awakened Mateo from the trance.
Mateo stood immediately, cello in hand. "Dahlia...?" He looked around the room in wonder, now embellished with vines, trees, leaves, and flowers of all colors and varieties. At the same time, the room was speckled with glass shards from windows and lamps, feathers from the cushions, and wooden splinters. What once had been an orderly, tidy room had now erupted into an uncontrollable chaos of brokenness and monstrous discord.
Dahlia stood in awe and glanced at the retreating light from their instruments. "It's coming from my violin and your cello. Mother and father are going to have a fit when they see this!"
And on that note, Mr. and Mrs. Sonata burst in from the door. "Children," Mr. Sonata said through gritted teeth, "What is the meaning of this! Your mother and I were enjoying a lovely cup of tea together until one of these vines rampaged through the door and began to attack us!"
"The mess, oh the mess! How awful! It's going to take a fortune to redecorate this room and replace the furnishings," Mrs. Sonata wailed, her pearl drop earrings swaying along with her shaking head. Between their mother's tears, Mateo and Dahlia could hear the furtive footsteps of the servants panicking about the manor. Dahlia inched closer to her case and Mateo followed her as they began to pack up their instruments.
"I've had it with the two of you. We've invested in your lives and how are we to be repaid? Next time if you're going to break everything, do it outside! You two have another performance in Milan next week and we can't have you killing the audience with your music," their father replied coldly as he began pacing the room, muttering incoherently. Finally, he abruptly faced them. "Well? You're not mute, for goodness sakes. Answer us!" he shouted.
Mateo clutched his case handle a little tighter. Then, he hastily turned around to face his raging, red-faced father. Dahlia glanced at her brother and it seemed that he was about to flare up. "Mother, father! We didn't hurt anyone. Besides, no one has ever done what we've just done now!"
"I don't care what devastating miracle you've managed to pull! Look around you, it's violent and dangerous," Mr. Sonata retorted, straightening the folds of his expensive Italian suit.
"Does that mean we're violent and dangerous? We can make it beautiful in its own way, father…"
"Mateo, you will not speak to me in that tone. As long as you're in my house, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior. And you, boy; of all people, must be more sensible since you've now come of age. You know that you shouldn't be indulging your younger sister in original pieces of music. We've had numerous conversations that Dahlia is not to be included in composing. She will only play what the past has written for her."
There was a moment of silence that bore the disgusting, evident truth. Even Mrs. Sonata had stopped crying and turned away. Dahlia looked to her brother whose expression was a mix of disappointment and anger. Mr. Sonata, on the other hand, regained himself from his recent outburst and was situated enough to stand a little taller than before. He fidgeted a bit as his hands curled and uncurled behind his back, with his eyes unable to meet Dahlia's.
Dahlia was alone, cornered by her entire family. She wanted to leave and never come back. She wanted to yell at Mateo for his rash behavior. And she wanted her parents to see what she saw; the beauty in the power of their music.
Finally, Mateo stepped forward and pulled Dahlia into an embrace with her violin at hand. His voice was not an inch closer to her ear. "Tell them. We can leave. It doesn't matter what they think. Your piece. It's amazing. You've got to tell them it's yours," he whispered.
Dahlia waited. Her body went rigid. Here she was suddenly wishing to take credit for her piece, yet too afraid to bear the consequences. She wasn't brave like her brother. She wasn't strong like her brother. And she wasn't determined like her brother. Dahlia was herself, someone who loved music, someone who was willing to make others feel the music and someone willing to tell a story not through words, but through sounds.
She stepped forward with Mateo's silent encouragement, and took the first step. If her parents weren't willing to give her that chance, then she had to make the choice of whether to be shunned by one side of music or walk a world with all the music. She took a deep breath and in a small voice, she whispered, "Mother, father...I wrote it, and I'm going to keep writing."
Three years later…
It was a beautiful night in Paris. The city was bustling with people as usual, everyone holding umbrellas to catch the raindrops which would eventually drip away. Every step found a puddle and soon the streets were covered in a thin coat of sheen.
The stars guided the people to a pavilion that guarded a new melody. On either side of the stage, the duo's instruments were displayed--one cello and one violin adorned with strange markings. The performers, now onstage, greeted the audience which only grew in numbers as the lines swelled. The pavilion lay as bare as a tree in winter, not a single ornate decoration or gaudy color in sight. The light had deliberately been dimmed such that one could only glimpse a faint outline of the faces.
Nevertheless, the simplicity of the stage hadn't kept the people away. The lines only lengthened, and among the final audience members was an ambitious, yet deeply conservative man. He'd caught wind of this unique duo while taking a stroll with his wife. However, his charisma had not been in line with his appearance. The man was of average height, effectively disguising his social status well. His gloves were faintly dusted and his suit jacket slightly wrinkled. Beside him, his wife wore a simple dress with a pair of chipped heels slightly dipped in mud.
"Two tickets, please," the man said to the vendor. When he reached for them, he smiled maliciously and took the vendor's hand. "I'm not a man to disappoint, young sir."
The vendor valiantly looked into the man's eyes and laughed sincerely. "On the contrary. You'll be blown away by these young artists. Enjoy the performance."
The two nodded their thanks, but were far from convinced. As they were soon greeted by the soft grassy earth, whispers of rumors caught the couple's attention. All around it seemed everyone had been familiar with the young artists as they'd countlessly been described as an unimaginable sensation. They were said to be as beautiful as the wild forest, as calming as the sounds of the sea, and as mysterious as a black cat's alley.
Finally, everything came to a stop. The audience no longer whispered and the lamps were dimmed all the way, so dark that the stars seemed to be the only pinpricks of light. The audience was met with a low, gallop of sounds from the cello, so sturdy that it could brave a walk across a log struggling to meet the ends of a river. The resonant rhythm continued until a small frightened voice tied itself to the line pulling the melody back and forth. The violin had joined the song. Still soft, it's voice continued to play so bare and terrified that the cello chose to fuel it with faith. Slowly but surely, the melody of the violin heightened so strongly that the cello struggled to keep it at bay.
So intense was the sound that the cello washed a wave of light into the audience accompanied with a bundle of flowers from the violin. The audience were stunned to be finding themselves sitting on different flowers in all colors and varieties. Next, the audience turned their wondrous eyes to a new stage in the process of being made entirely from the elements of mother nature. Long thick vines braided together wrapped themselves around the columns, overlapping the slippery floor, and climbed on top of the roof as the leaves were coated to even the ground. A rainbow of flowers in all sizes then coated the stage. So beautiful was the setting, that the rain had stopped to reconsider its mood and soon the moon was in view.
No longer had the song been a battle between two voices, eager for only one to be heard. They'd confided and had learned to trust the other. The melody's chorus was tossed between the two instruments as they took turns in letting the other be heard. The sadness written in the piece was clear. The emotion. It was as if the musicians bore an unbreakable bond to the music. A haven. A joy. Somewhere where one could be themselves. Secluded from the world. Something that would ring even invisibly in the distance when no sound was uttered. Something that would be remembered in everyone's hearts.
As the piece neared the end, the audience swayed to the wind. They grasped at the notes in the air and eagerly waited for more, but as the music crescendoed, the audience soon went still and everything went silent.
Slowly, from the man's cello, a rainbow of lights were reflected onto the ceiling as his bow glided from string to string. Beside him, from the woman's violin, were little plants that were added to re-flourish the stage. And the sound. That same soft and mellow tune had resumed once more. The violin's melody sped and the harmony struggled to keep up as the two once again battled to outshine the other. Finally, the two slowed and dragged the song once more, lingering on the last note. It trilled and finally, the music slowed to a stop.
After a couple of minutes of silence, the audience erupted into applause. Among the crowd, the man with the bowler hat and his wife looked up in shock to glimpse the performers. From where they were, Enrique and Maria Sonata clapped slowly, breathless by what they'd witnessed.
The young artists shared a victorious smile and then waved to the jubilant crowd. It was then and there that the couple had recognized the performers. The music, the light, and the flowers. Three years, it had been for them, but the memories rapidly flooded in. Only then and there did they realize what they'd truly lost.
From the ovation, the speaker emerged from the curtains and shook hands with each of the performers. "Ladies and gentleman, I give you Ms. Dahlia and Mr. Mateo Sonata!"
No matter the distance, the days went by, or a sky that wept with rain, the brother and sister would forever compose, perform together, and share their music with the world.