He didn’t know whether it was an incredibly expensive stereo system in the flat next door or whether the residents had a baby grand on which they played, every afternoon with the exception of Friday, when no sounds would appear at all on the wall between the two flats.
And, because It was impossible to tell, he allowed himself the luxury of imagination that a tortured but exquisitely educated soul lived next to him, sometimes manifesting in an Audrey Hepburn gentleness with hands enticing the keys to play the most mournful of Chopin, the paradox of such innocent beauty dredging complex emotions through the notes delighting him in his lounge as he drank in the visuals to the themed concerto of the day. Sometimes it would be a young man, in need of a feed, drinking too much red wine from lunchtime and then, Beethoven’s arrogance would triumph through the energy of youth, sweat running from his brow and through his long curls hanging over closed eyes. Breathing would come hard from his nose and a heart would be fiercely pounding in a chest, all too damp with the fervour of passion.
There could be no preference in the sensuality of such great and impressive sounds, there could only be a longing and invitation of longing for some heady consummation with each crescendo and when it wasn’t met, the depth of ravenous desire bled him of all energies as he sat, listening to the music appear on the wall between the flats.
One afternoon, after months of the delights of Bach, the movements of Chopin, the glories of Beethoven and the energy of Dvorak, there was a change of pace… it took a little time to decipher it but then it came to him, Schubert!
He felt sick, the room began to spin and his skin prickled allergic to the very thought of it… of all the strident energies to have to endure – Schubert was the one who would bring up every sadness, every nightmare of that time, the time when he learned to love and each wound began to open, cell by cell, inch by inch. Schubert continued into every afternoon at the same time, over and over again.
One afternoon in particular, despondency ate into his skin until it ulcerated. Each chord struck pins into his eyes and as they worked their way into his brain, his ears began to bleed. As the movements progressed, life seeped from his toes and he felt himself grow weaker. He tried to knock on the wall, but the intensity of such eloquent interpretation rendered his interruption no more than a whisper…
It didn’t take too long for the feeling to go from his legs and arms and all he remembered as he slipped gently from consciousness was the heart he broke to the sound of hands to which he had lied, playing Schubert on a piano a very long time ago.
Text: J. L. Nash, 2011
Images: © Predrag Pajdic, 2011