Musical Musings #9 : Honesty by Billy Joel.
Take one of your existing characters and have them reflect honestly on something that they are not proud of in their lives. Are the willing to say 'sorry' for what they have done or is it too late? Does your character write a letter, make a phone call or is it simply being honest with themselves that is important.? Use the music to guide you.
Cradled in his left arm was an extravagant bunch of flowers, the brilliant orange of the huge petals a vivid point in the dismal winter day, the black freckles little storm clouds in an tangerine sky. Tiger lilies had been Maia’s favourite flowers.
At coffee one morning he’d told her how the American author Titus Munson Coan had described them as the panthers of the meadow. Maia had liked that, he remembered how her face lit up and softened. It was a rare shift in the stiff guard that she’d erected around herself.
Her beauty was breathtaking, but there was a hard edge that came with it. Her physical splendour was at odds with inner ugliness that she made no effort to hide. There was a conscious wielding of her beauty to get her what she wanted, when she wanted it. Men fell at her feet, hell - he’d fallen at her feet. And she fed on it. People called her vain, selfish and ego centric. Yes, Maia could be callous and inconsiderate – motivated by her own needs … take, take, take and never an ounce given back. He knew that better than anyone else. Her ego over inflated beyond anything had ever known in anyone, man or woman.
But Andrew had seen beyond Maia’s masks, through the veils and beyond her own personal Berlin Wall. He’d had glimpses of the vulnerability, the yearning and fear of tenderness, of true connection with another. When he had tried to talk to her about it, to give her a safe space to discuss her parents, both of whom had abandoned her at a young age, she would clam up. Maia would throw a hissy fit, to end all hissy fits and he’d go out for flowers, for chocolates, for a new handbag, or whatever material thing she needed to fill that aching vortex inside her. Anything but the love he was willing to give freely, deeply and honestly.
Andrew stopped, the laughter of a kookaburra breaking him out of his thoughts. He realised that he had walked past where he needed to be. He fumbled with the map in his hand, trying to work out how far back he needed to go. He was bad with directions at the best of times. The bright yellow highlights on the crumpled piece of paper seemed gaudy and the bright circle around a plot number, camping spots for the dead.
A shiver ran down his back. He turned and walked back to a narrow street that ran off the main arterial. It was up here, somewhere up over the hill that Maia rested.
He was prickling with sweat when he finally reached the tomb stone.
MAIA LOUISE EDWARDES
10.08.79 to 14.09.08
A daughter lost before her time
His hands shook as he stood the flowers up against the cold stone. Andrew wished that he’d bought a vase of water – the flowers would wilt and die quickly without water, even in the middle of winter.He sat down with his back against the side of the stone, tears stinging his eyes. It was going to be one of those one sided discussions again.
“I’m sorry Maia,” he said, when his throat finally opened enough to let the words come out. It was so quiet that the words were easily swept away on the brisk wind that had sprung up.
“I’m sorry for so many things.”
He watched the trees in the distance shudder and then sway in the wind.
“I guess you can’t ask for anything more … now that you’re gone. Don’t you know Maia there was nothing that I would not have given you. My heart, my soul, my everything …”
He dug his fingers deep into the thick, moist grass.
“But you threw it back to me. You told me that I was too nice, too considerate, too caring. What you were really telling me though was that you were too good for me.”
Hoarse sobs choked out of him and for the first time he allowed them to come. His chest heaved and his throat threatened to close on him. He probably wasn’t worthy of sucking down oxygen any more. He was scum – the worst sort of scum.
“I didn’t mean for you to die Maia,” he said when the sobs finally receded and he could breath almost normally again. “I only ever meant for you to get a little bit sick. I wanted you to lose control for a little, to be weak, vulnerable – for you to need me, like I wanted you to need me. I wanted you to have to need me, to rely on me.”
“But you had to be a stubborn bitch didn’t you. I waited. I waited by the phone, at home, at work. I slept with my mobile – waiting for the call from you Maia. Telling me that you were sick – could I come over and care for you. And I would have Maia. I would have dropped everything to come and care for you. But you never fucking rang did you.”
“So I took that holiday I’d been saving for. The holiday I had promised you in Morocco. The holiday that you said that you wanted in Morocco. I went alone. I went and lay in the sun, I ate amazing food, I even slept with a couple of women. And what did you do while I was gone – you went and died.”
“You just couldn’t ask for help could you. You could not admit for one moment that you were weak, that you couldn’t do it all by yourself.”
He wiped his nose across sleeve, his misery swinging to anger and self denial. It was all Maia’s fault after all. He had only coated the lining of the pillow protector in mercury. Just a little, he’d been careful, he’d done his research, enough to strike Maia down, but not to kill her. And for two months she’d laid on that pillow … and then for another ten days after she died.
She came to the end of her life so disliked by so many, it was an unknown office worker at the organic produce company who had called the police to report something amiss with one of their clients. Andrew wondered how an entire apartment block, in the middle of summer, could have explained away her absence – the smell?
It was weeks after he’d returned from his holiday that he ran into one of her co-workers at a café. She’d mentioned that she hadn’t seen him at the funeral. What funeral? Maia’s … and how weird was it the way she died.
And the sickening realisation enveloped him. He’d killed her. There had been one interview with some detectives and he’d lied, said he’d never seen Maia again after they separated. It told them it had not been acrimonious break up, as far as break ups go. He’d never called her, leaving it to her to come back to him, crawling back admitting that she was wrong. One of the officers did mention that Maia had placed a call to his office the day of her death. He’d be in Marakesh – too late Maia, too late.
“I’m sorry Maia,” Andrew croaked pulling himself to his feet. “I guess it was your ego and your arrogance that was your undoing in the end.”
He got up, brushing the dirt and leaves off his pants. “All you needed to do was ask for help.” And he left it at that. He couldn’t bring himself to say he loved her, he wasn’t sure if he did, or had, or even if it mattered now.
He scrunched the map into a small ball and walked off. His conscience had been silenced – he’d been honest with the only person that mattered.