Only a few chapters left, and the last ones are the hardest. I’m not sure how much falls under the difficulty of concluding a complicated mystery and how much resides in the events of my own life. I guess it doesn’t matter. Ivan’s Wife has been a wonderful, frustrating, heart-wrenching experience to write. The characters are multi-dimensional and, at times, disturbing. Still, I love the characters and want to do them justice. Although Pages in the Wind was challenging, Ivan’sWife has been my biggest challenge.
In this chapter, Dimitri, the main character, learns why he was coaxed to Russia. The secrets are life-changing; he must reach into whatever strength he has left to handle what lies ahead.
I stepped across the austere room to the only window and pulled back the red linen drapes, coughing as dust exploded like dirty snow in my face. The narrow casement window overlooked the fountain and swung outward. Outside, the mist and wind were breathy and smelled like gardenias, so I cranked the handle to invite clean air into the misery. It wouldn’t budge. I glanced at the steel vault door and realized it would be hard to escape. It was on the third floor, and the window was stuck and had thick glazing bars. My heart quivered for a few seconds before regaining its rhythm. Without the roar of water spilling into the fountain and soothing wafts of fresh air, there was no way to let the gloom out. I felt trapped and garroted by the insanity that breeds from isolation.
Ivan’s Wife is almost in the edit stage. Hardest ending ever. But, who likes simple? Not me. I’ve enjoyed the characters and the crazy parallels. In this excerpt, Dimitri finds his private room invaded. There is an interesting parallel at the end he won’t see coming.
I carefully set down my mother’s picture and listened. It had to be my imagination, like waking up in the middle of the night thinking you’d heard a suspicious noise downstairs. But, when I turned toward the door, I noticed two shadows poised like evil specters in the hallway. It was true. My sanctuary had been invaded.
And the door had no lock.
Another knock. A little heavier this time. But, still oddly rhythmic. Not a man’s knock. One knuckle. Three taps. Hardly a demand to open the door but not tentative either.
“Shit,” I whispered, feeling blood rush like storm troopers to my head. Prickly sensations crept through my body as every muscle readied for battle. Anna. No way could I allow her to get away with invading my private space. A place that, until now, was known only to me. The safe haven where I talked with my mother.
Ivan, a famous and celebrated composer, sees his son, Dimitri, as a failure. He discounts him not only for his mental problems but his lack of musical abilities. But, growing up under the weight and criticism of a Svengali only pushes Dimitri’s talent into the shadows. In this scene, we see how Dimitri feels about the music his father could never see.
“Good,” I said, turning back to Delia. There was something about her. She sat with her long graceful arms in her lap, so still yet fluid, her beautiful face holding onto a sight that no one else could see. Every so often, her lips would part as she mouthed the words, “NussunDorma,” an Italian song of love often sung at weddings. I wondered if it might be their song, symbolizing the love she had for her husband. Music stirred people. I’d seen it many times at the restaurant. Many a man and woman dropping their composure over a song, peeling back the shell that life destroyed and exposing the soul that made them human. I’d seen a song transform a monotone heart into an eager kiss full of fire and raging desire.
I took a deep breath, moving my hands in small circles to warm them. Nussundorma was not easily transformed into a solo piano piece. I steadied myself, feeling the keys beneath my fingers as I mouthed the words, “None shall sleep, even you, oh, Princess.” The emotion of the piece took over, breaking the silence of the room, filling me. The notes seemed to touch my fingers and spread outward, melancholic yet stirring. The space between the music and the world disappeared.