I wonder why the light feels so painful. Is it a migraine coming on? Or is it that when you’re being interrogated by police officers and you have something to hide, light is not your friend.
I was out walking late at night, relieved to have finished the aria I have been struggling to complete, just in time for the king’s prenuptial celebrations this weekend, when I must have walked past the scene of a home invasion that occurred moments before.
The more I think about it, it’s not the physical light that feels invasive. It’s my fear of being found out. I am deeply in debt and what the royal treasury pays me–apparently considering the honor of having my music performed at the palace payment enough-is an insult. So, when no one was looking, I supplemented those few coins with a candlestick I whisked off a table in the palace music room.
And now I’m not only terrified that they will search my side pockets. The officer who seems to be in charge is holding up the sheets they found folded in my breast pocket and he is waving them over the lit candle on his desk.
While leering in my direction, with the pages hovering just inches above the flame, he asks me if I think my miserable freedom should be worth a penny to him. And, as if in a dream, I answer,
“I wish I knew.”
Then, as if I have just confessed to whatever crime I am suspected of committing, he lowers my aria into the flame. He pretends to be surprised and, still smiling, exclaims, “Oops.”
As the light of the candle flame suddenly fills the space around it, I realize that my little melody, painstakingly devised to flatter the king’s limited capacities, is gone forever, along with the transcribed notes. But, in the empty space left behind, I hear a melody; not the trivial ditty I have been calling an aria but a voice from beyond, which every cell of my being yearns to capture.
I watch, like someone under hypnosis, as the police officer sneers, turns to his assistant and pronounces judgement. “He’s not worth the trouble of locking up. Let him go.”
I run from there, not because I have been granted an unexpected reprieve to continue my old ways for another day. I run so that I can write down that haunting melody before it can blow away in the turbulent winds of my scattered and resentful mind.
And I realize something else. I need to return the stolen candlestick to the palace (to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s–as Christ commanded). And as for my lost ‘aria’, I have the perfect replacement. I’ve composed a little ditty for my nephew’s third birthday party next month, which will be perfect for the king. I can already see him tapping his foot, and imagining himself as the uniquely gifted monarch who alone appreciates what ordinary beings cannot.