a mere interlude

I had an acute sense of the incompleteness intrinsic in sharing in another’s life. You touch those other lives, barely —however intimately it may be sexually—you may sense things roiling in them. Yet the climax in your immediate relationship with them is merely an interlude. Their lives will continue, you’ll merely step out. A series of encounters multiplying geometrically…. A prismatic network of … (I remember the Professor, I see the tiny eyes behind the thick glasses) “interviews.
—  John Rechy, City of Night
Teach Me To Feel

@musical-crayon requested a ReidxReader in which the reader plays piano, and Spencer is in awe of how fast her fingers move, so a he teaches him a song.

I had been playing the piano so intently and with so much passion that I hadn’t heard the sound of footsteps as they approached me. I’m usually very observant, but not when it comes to piano. When it comes to piano, I lose sight of everything else around me and I can only see the keys. The black and white, the feel of the porcelain under my fingertips, the elegance of the movement, the sound itself of the straining notes that flow together to form something that touches people. Something that pulls at a person’s heart and reaches their emotions in a way that nothing else on the face of the earth does. Piano is my escape. So I didn’t hear Spencer Reid walk up behind me, which is why I jumped slightly at the sound of his voice. I stopped playing and turned to find him staring at my hands as if they were entirely foreign to him.
“Wow,” he breathed.
“What?” I asked, slightly uncomfortable at the feeling of being scrutinized by a man who has an IQ of 187.
“You’re…amazing,” he said.
“I am?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I’ve never seen anyone play piano like that.”
“Like what, exactly?” I inquired. “So fast and precise,” he said. “You never miss a single note and your fingers move so quickly that I can’t even keep up with which keys you’re playing,” he said. “It’s incredible.” I smiled slightly at his description of my piano skills.
“Thank you, Spencer,” I replied quietly. “I could teach you a song, if you wanted me to,” I offered, and couldn’t help but smile as his face lit up.
“Really?” He asked and I nodded, happily moving over to give him some space on the piano bench.
“Have you ever played before?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I have a keyboard at home. It’s mostly just math, actually, because if you calculate the position of-”
I interrupted him mid-sentence, shaking my head.
“No, no, Spencer,” I said gently, causing him to trail off and look at me questioningly. “It’s not math,” I told him, reaching over to place my hands on the keys and playing a simple set of scales.
“It’s art,” I explained. “And art requires something that math oftentimes lacks. When you play piano, you can’t let it be about calculations and figures, or even posture and poise. Those things have to come secondary to the most important part of making music.”
“Which is?” He asked and I smiled gently at him.
“Passion,” I whispered. “Music is ardent and emotional. You have to feel the keys under your fingers and let the notes become a part of you. Put that big brain of yours to rest for a bit, Dr.Reid. Learn to let your heart be your guiding force instead.”
“Okay,” he said cautiously, and I laughed at his wary tone.
“Here, watch me,” I said, and I let my fingers linger on the keys for a moment as I closed my eyes and did exactly what I had just advised Spencer to do, and let my heart take over. My fingers began to move, flying across the black and white keys to the sounds of “Eidleweiss” from The Sound of Music. I played the first verse and then smiled at Spencer.
“You try,” I said encouragingly, knowing he would be able to replicate my movements. He placed his fingers where mine had been and began to play. The sound was essentially the same, but I knew he was lacking the element of my music that had given him pause in the first place. So I stood up and came to stop behind him. He stopped playing and craned his neck to look at me.
“What are you doing?” He asked.
“Put your hands back on the keys,” I instructed. He did, and I brought my hands around to cover his eyes.
“Wait, (Y/N), I can’t see the keys,” he complained, and I laughed, which made him smile, a smile that I could feel under my hands.
“I know,” I said. “You have to feel it, Spence. You smiled when I laughed, and I knew that not because I saw you smile, but because I felt you smile. The key is to focus on the music, not the keyboard. Remember where your hands took you, but remember it with your ears and your fingers and with your heart. Not your eyes, and not your brain. Go on, try again.”
This time, his fingers moved more hesitantly at first, but as the music filled the room, it became louder and more confident, and I could feel the difference. Judging by the away he reacted to the sound, he could feel it too, and he continued to play as I removed my hands from his eyes and stepped away to watch him. The intense concentration was gone from his face, replaced by a peaceful sort of focus. When the song ended, he trailed off beautifully, giving the impression that as the music faded, it was merely an interlude rather than a finale. When he finally moved his fingers off of the keys, he looked at me and smiled.
“Feels different that way, doesn’t it?” I asked, and he nodded.
“You know, I like feeling things with my heart,” he told me. I smiled gently at him and leaned forward.
“Want to feel something else?” I asked. He nodded slowly and I leaned in to press my lips to his. When I pulled back, he was smiling and his eyes were still closed.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Perfect. I’m still feeling,” he replied, and I laughed.
Best piano lesson ever.

Dearest Kitty,

“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.

The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.

As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me.

Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.

I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.

I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.

A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank

—  Anne Frank’s last diary entry, written 1st August 1944. The Frank family was discovered on the 4th of August 1944. (x)

Finished this today and I have to say I really liked it. Granted, I expected A Mere Interlude to be more romantic than it was it still captured me. I haven’t read anything by Hardy before, which is surprising seeing as I’m an English student, and I think I’ll be reading more of his work. Lately, I’m enjoying short stories more than novels, I think because you can read them in one go they can be read in one frame of mind. I recommend people to read it. (Plus the edition is reeeeeeally pretty…)

A Mere Interlude by Thomas Hardy.
Book Review by the-library-and-step-on-it.

I had two hours to spare this afternoon, so I went to a book outlet and bought this little volume so I would have something to read while I waited. It’s from Penguin’s Great Loves series (with a beautiful cover design by David Pearson) and includes three short stories by Hardy, all about love (or lack thereof). Each of the stories depicts an unhappy marriage, and interestingly, all three are told from the perspective of a woman.

“A Mere Interlude” tells the story of how a young woman tries to hide her elopement with another man from her new husband, “The Withered Arm” is a gothic tale full of jealousy and black magic, but it’s “An Imaginative Woman” that really captivated me. This piece is about a woman (Ella) who discovers that the cottage she’s staying in whilest on holiday with her family is usually rented by her favourite poet, and finds his belongings in one of the rooms. While her husband and children are away, she slowly falls in love with the writer through his poems, his scribbles in pencil on the wallpaper, his shirts in the closet… It’s heartbreaking (of course, this is Hardy after all) and achingly beautiful.

“An Imaginative Woman” really got to me, especially the main character Ella. She is full of passion and desperately wants to connect with her favourite poet, but is trapped in her unhappy marriage with a husband and children she cannot relate to and doesn’t love. The poet never appears, but his ghost haunts the cottage and Ella’s thoughts.

A great find!

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