“The Theme you play at the start of a number is the territory,
and what comes after, which may have very little to do with it,
is the Adventure!” – Ornette Coleman
She Waits With Music
by: Audrey Dawn
Patrons walked by her. They paused to take a look, but then chose to move on, often times with a glance back, as if wondering whether she’d be okay. Yes, it was late and she’d been there awhile listening to the light leftover sounds of the imaginative and free style jazz music coming from Basie’s place. A woman isn’t normally out by herself on a street full of dark alleys; short streets filled with dirty puddles which contain the smells rejected by most. She couldn’t allow herself to go inside the bar.
What if she missed him walking by that corner over there or there. Her eyes drifted side to side. She’d decided that the open air, coupled with waiting close by, would allow her to see each visitor who enjoyed this part of town. This time of night. Ambrosia knew she shouldn’t wait outside alone, yet she’d told herself she’d engage in the hopes of finding him.
At the moment, she was thankful for the session to be over. The sidewalk had become more populated as couples began to walk by, they were all leaving slowly, couple after couple. Couples. Where was he? She picked at her sweater and often times her thumb as her mind raced with concerns. Did she choose the right clothes, the one’s he prefered? The bass worked overtime tonight, it was her favorite. The free play that the musicians took liberties with, often times sparked the most creativity, right? He’d come, she’d feel him and he’d bring her what she needed.
She glanced down to avoid another set of eyes. What was wrong with her? Why was she nervous?
She straightened her skirt and her fingers lingered on the fabric. It was soft and smooth. She was fond of the way it made her body feel. To others it probably didn’t look like much, but there was a familiarity about it she savored, often times wearing it for occasions just like this. Quality moments together allowing an indulgence of time to be lost in creativity.
“Excuse me, Miss? Do you need help?” asked a man, who had apparently left the show alone.
Startled, she looked up and into the man’s eyes briefly. “Oh, no. Thank you, you needn’t bother.” Ambrosia whispered. She took in the rest of him, but then only allowed her eyes to focus on an object just over the top of his full head of hair. His hair was obviously silvering with age, yet purring with playfulness, and the laws of attraction had told her she didn’t want to linger there too long.
“Ma’am, you know it isn’t safe here alone, at night. Not for someone as delicate as you.” the man offered openly. He moved a bit closer as if to shelter her from feeling alone.
“Ambrosia,” she’d allowed. “Thank you, again, Sir. I shouldn’t be here much longer and I’m not as delicate as you presume.” she clumsily replied while taking a step to the side. She worried that the man in front of her may scare the other. In haste, she looked the man in the eyes as if to will his presence away, but paused instead.
The man’s eyes offered a view of a place she only dreamt about. In the dark she took a moment to ponder his eyes. She marveled whether they were the eyes which invited her to the bluest of oceans. They could be the familiar eyes that allowed her the serenity of the Rocky Mountains, which she longed for routinely, because they offered the romantic hues of a nostalgic brown and green, which she’d turn into a melody.
She looked away, realizing she’d stared too long, she even considered if the man noticed.
He had. The man’s feet electing to stay planted, his body showing no desire to leave.
“Miss? I could stay and keep you company. I can’t imagine leaving you alone. It wouldn’t be right.” the man confessed. He buttoned his proper jacket and straightened his cashmere scarf.
She’d noticed the man’s red scarf and the care he took to arrange it just so. Done in such a way that the scarf offered him all the warmth it could provide, by rhythmically mastering it’s job, with the help of his hands, the one’s in charge. The man was dressed well and hadn’t moved since deciding on his protective post. What was she going to do? His departure seemed unlikely. He wasn’t part of the plan.
Ambrosia had prepared herself, opened up her vulnerability in order to find him, she craved what he provided. She’d promised herself. She pulled out her gloves and straightened her, often times neglected, long and slender fingers comfortably inside. She glanced at her watch wondering how long the waiting would last. She agreed to dress for the night air and stay until their future was decided. He always knew the direction they should go. The choices were to be made as the opportunity presented itself. She prayed he showed himself.
“I’ll be fine.” she mumbled, as she feathered her hand in the air offering the man another way out. Ambrosia had begun to worry she would become a bother to him, and feared his presence would confuse the evening air.
“Do you need a cab?” the man offered while turning and looking up and down the street. Suddenly startled at how obvious the answer to this enigma in front of him could be. His actions resolute and lean body ready to hail, at her command.
She noticed the man’s rushing look of embarrassment when recognizing that the solution could be as simple as a cab. She pondered, just briefly, the red that may have found rest upon his cheek bones. It stirred her.
Her mouth twitched, “No, I don’t need a cab. I’m simply waiting.” she quietly offered as her body momentarily relaxed. Suddenly aware that the man may have noticed her almost giggle. Quite possibly, the slight rise of her hand to his arm, which stopped within inches of touching the jacket that held him.
That was close. The writer’s reaction left her surprised. What was it inside of her that prompted her to let her guard down? She knew better than that. This wasn’t the street nor the time. Her eyes still looking at the man’s jacketed arm and the lovely scarf that offered him warmth.
Suddenly realizing she had lingered too long. She shifted away and lifted her sweater’s collar which allowed for her to regain the distance between them. She felt her body urge her to reconsider as she focused on allowing the man an opportunity to walk away. She purposefully turned her back and searched down the quieting street. Her mind told her she didn’t need the man’s help, her body begged her to reconsider.
Ambrosia turned around, “Thank you for the offer. I’ll be just fine here, there seems to be plenty of activity to keep me unharmed.” she encouraged. Fearlessly offering an opening to walk away, one impossible to decline. Carefully, she looked down at her watch. It had been three hours.
“Ambrosia, if it’s alright with you, I’d like to stay and wait.” the man replied, while lifting his collar around the scarf.
She fought back the urge to pull his collar down, needing the scarf to stay revealed. “I’m sure you have somewhere to be,” she softly reminded him. She had forgotten how it felt to hear a man say her name. Her eyes searched his for understanding.
“No. This seems much more important at this time, this moment, this night.” the man said so poetically as he looked away.
She noticed that the man granted his shoulders to shift, obviously showing her that he had no intention of allowing her to disagree. “Okay,” she warmly allowed, feeling a pull to comply. It appeared that the road he was heading down was really not hers to secure.
A wave of wonderings were passing through her mind as they both stood there alone, yet together. His name she wouldn’t ask, a stranger he could remain, her name she’d offered earlier in an effort to politely wish him away.
“It’s a cold night.” the man pleasantly remarked. Standing with the demeanor of a night guard, looking relieved at her compliance. He rocked back and forth, toes to heals and back again almost as a dance, as one of his heels swiveled his toes towards her and then back again.
Ambrosia recognized that the man was thinking of the jazz music he had just heard inside Count Basie’s Pub. Did the music bring him joy or was it simply being amongst the crowd that had brought him out tonight and effectuated him so? She considered, temporarily, the idea that getting his way just now made the man feel accomplished.
The hustle of the crowds had begun to lessen and little by little they would be left alone. Left standing together. Taking turns breathing. Just being. Cars still passed by, but after each one the duration between them lasted a little longer. As time went on there were fewer shiny cars and motors became less quiet. She recognized that this was a good indication that the familiar feeling of safety would come to an end.
How long would she wait? Would she still recognize him when he came?
His departure brought her here tonight, hoping for the possibility of feeling him again. She would have followed him anywhere, yet he hadn’t left a note. There were enduring days full of darkness. She’d cried many tears, praying he’d come back for her, giving in to his need to encourage her. She feared, the quickening of her pulse proved that she may never witness his arrival.
He understood Ambrosia, and often times protected her on nights where being lost in thought seemed dangerous. Simply a misdirection he’d presume, as her thoughts refocused on their agreement. Her writing becoming effortless again. She longed for his return and the intimacy he allowed her to reveal to so many people. Laying her hand on her heart, she found herself lost in time, as the sounds around her took control.
Aware of her body moving and noting the placement of her hand, the man finally spoke, “What are you thinking about?” he honestly asked while searching her face.
The man startled her back to reality. She could tell he was used to getting what he wanted. It was in the way he held himself and used such directness towards her. He’d begun insisting to see her eyes, not allowing her to look away.
“I am wondering how long tonight will take,” Ambrosia hesitated, “Have you ever lost someone?” she almost soundlessly questioned. Worried that she’d exposed too much.
“No, but regrettably, I’ve been another’s loss if that helps. Is that why you’re here?” the man asked, as if his eyes searched her very soul.
She felt void of any covering, as he looked at her with such an intent to solve her.
“Would you agree to leave, if I told you that I was waiting for the one who leads me. He clears my mind and muses me though difficult measures. He calms me and chaperones my pencil where my heart cannot. I could be here forever, waiting for direction.” she finally admitted after a period of time. It was careless for them to dance this dance any longer. Her mind weighed whether the man before her could be her someone new.
“Is it true? Why would you wait?” his eyes searched her for answers.
“Probably,” she affirmed finding no reason not to look him in the eye, yet lost in thought. “Because without him I cannot feel. I won’t hear. I won’t remember….” she exhaled.
His presence had a broadness had an eerie protectiveness about it, one she yearned to lean into. How easy it would be to rest her gloved hands around his arm, slowly laying her head into his shoulder, allowing for weakness, yet forcing her eyes closed so she didn’t have to witness the embarrassment she’d feel.
“I’ll wait as long as it takes. What has brought you here is of consequence, it would seem.” he supported, while looking behind her and safeguarding the area her presence had found sanctum in. The man’s devotion continued.
He has chosen not to come, his forwardness he had denied her. Ambrosia waited and anticipated that their reunion was to be honored on this night. She had dressed for him, wearing and revealing what he relished in her most, her vulnerability. She’d chosen everything so intently, knowing he’d find her out here anticipating him.
“I’ve been lingering and hoping for someone tonight who hasn’t shown. I should probably go.” she shyly admitted tightening the belt on her sweater, revealing the shape of her body. Fully aware she’d forever lost what she’d come to find.
“I’ll walk you,” the man pledged while taking on the stance of a predestined man. “I’d like to hear more.”
“I fear you don’t know what you’re offering.” she fought back the need to study the repercussions of allowing him to walk her home. Did it matter? She allowed her body to concede, her mind already knowing the answer.
“Once again, I can’t take no for an answer.” the man pressed. It was obvious that she had tried the patience of an imperturbable man. She weakened as he offered shelter in one of his arms not taking his eyes off of her face.
She noticed the concern in his eyes and his desire to help by the actions he provided. “It won’t be easy and the walk is long.” Ambrosia confessed with her fragility finally showing through.
“Allow me this chance to help you. It’ll please me to please you. Will you let me?” the man questioned while walking them down the dark sidewalk towards a relationship based on inspiration.
“I fear I may never need your name.” she professed while allowing him to direct them through the remaining traffic. Her thoughts already flexing with ideas for where her stories would lead them.
“I fear I will always need yours.” he conceded. Holding his head high and already possessing an air or easement towards the force that he must possess, in order to stay with her long.
I’d love your feedback. I was torn between naming Ambrosia’s muse and the man who kept her company while she waited for the inspiration that the music and sketchy surroundings stirred in her. All of these ultimately bringing to mind the man she craved writing about. In the end I didn’t name them and hope that by doing so it left the air of anonymity in place, but I question whether the flow allows you to discern between the two (seemingly) male characters. ~Thanks, Audrey