Third

The radio was no good tonight–somebody sang popular songs that all ended in the same way. It was like she was empty…

One program came on after another, and all of them were punk. She didn’t especially care. She smoked and picked a little bunch of grass blades. After a while a new announcer started talking. He mentioned Beethoven. She had read in the library about that musician–his name was pronounced with an and spelled with double e. He was a German fellow like Mozart. When he was living he spoke in a foreign language and lived in a foreign place–like she wanted to do. The announced said they were going to play his third symphony. She only halfway listened because she wanted to walk some more and she didn’t care much what they played. Then the music started. Mick raised her head and her fist went up to her throat.

How did it come? For a minute the opening balanced from one side to the other. Like a walk or march. Like God strutting in the night. The outside of her was suddenly froze and only that first part of the music was hot inside her heart. She could not even hear what sounded after, but she sat there awaiting and froze, with her fists tight. After a while the music came again, harded and loud. It didn’t have anything to do with God. This was her, Mick Kelly, walking in the daytime and by herself at night. In the hot sun and in the dark with all the plans and feelings. This music was her–the real plain her…

This music did not take a long time or a short time. It did not have anything to do with time going by at all. She sat with her arms held tight around her legs, biting her salty knee very hard. It might have been five minutes she listened or half the night. The second part was black-colored–a slow march. Not sad, but like the whole world was dead and black and there was no use thinking back how it was before. One of those horn kind of instruments played a sad and silver tune. Then the music rose up angry and with excitement underneath. And finally the black march again.

But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best–glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to list.

Carson McCullers, from The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

4 thoughts on “Third

  1. Great quote. I need to read this book. Sounds like you hung on for dear life last night and had fun! You can call yourself a professional bass player. Love Mom

  2. i really liked reading this entry, Jonathan. “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” has always been one of my favorite novels, and coincidentally, I just got the movie, which I liked as much as the novel when it first came out (such a rare thing to happen).

    • Thanks Jan. I love this book as well. My musical side ate up all the ideas of “listening/hearing” in the novel. I didn’t know there was a film version but now I’ll definitely check it out!

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