Shared Summer Romance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A group of friends goes to see two plays, one is Oscar Wilde's Salomé and the second is one they've come up with themselves, entitled Shared Summer Romance

Submitted: March 20, 2014

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Submitted: March 20, 2014

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Summer Romance

 

Chapter 1

Like smoke in a small room, summer comes stifling. Summer envelopes multiple personalities, but instead of this being classified as a disorder, each personality is just another day. Some days are as different as good and evil and others are so similar the only way you can tell there’s a difference is with time. No matter what season it is, time is there to keep it steadily on.

 

Pine needles bristled and insects made noise like a thousand buzz saws in unison. The smoke of charred meat wafted up in to the windless sky, spreading apart in to, eventually, nothing. A few friends sat around a table in brittle metal chairs eating dinner. Dinner was a garden salad, made up of wedged tomatoes, purple grapes carefully cut in half, thin and lengthy carrot strips, and sizable cubes of marble cheese. Pavement of the backyard patio was blistering hot. The friends had a mix of summer wines and light beers between them. Cut up pieces of citrus fruit mixed in with salt laid on a cutting board. The friends murmured to each other from time to time but mostly sat in silence, embracing the moment.

 

Sara had her legs crossed and her arms down each armrest. The coolness of the metal alone was enough to keep her refreshed. She prodded Thomas with the end of her foot. Her flip flop’s cheap rubber bent easily. He looked at her.

 

“Yeah?” He asked absently.

“Could get me another lime?” Her voice was sweet.

 

He looked at the table. They were half an arm’s reach away from Sara. He went back to admiring the day, expressionless. She grinned widely and picked up a lime wedge in poised fashion. Kurt and Alice, sitting behind the two, enjoyed the exchange.

 

Chapter 2

The friends walked in bare feet towards a thick garden. The garden’s flowers were art. Purple bled in to blue and pink hugged yellow. Multi-coloured petals rested delicately on green stems, a product of the wind’s sweep. In the middle of the garden, brush had been cleared and overtop of grass were blankets. Stones of every shape, size, and shade formed the path to the seating area. Impressions of feet could be seen faintly. Next to the path laid mosaic paintings of figures from Greek tragedy and comedy. Gentle bugs and insects moved in every direction. Dragonflies hummed around their jungle, bees gorged themselves on flower pollen, and potato bugs expertly rolled in the dirt.

 

The friends were not the first to arrive. Other groups of dressed up young men and women were sprawled out on the blankets reading the ‘Play of the Day’. They were dressed in loose-fitting, fairly transparent shirts of different pale colours. For example, a woman next to the group wore beige short shorts and a green, buttoned-down collared top. She was with her boyfriend. Their blanket was patterned in simple, thick rows of various shades of blue.

The ‘Play of the Day’ was “Salomé”, the Oscar Wilde version. ‘Jessica Adams’ was going to play the title role and ‘Eric James’ and ‘Monique Houston’ were to play her father and mother, Herod and Herodias.

The biblical platform of the story did not mean much to the young viewers in attendance but it was not lost on them, either. Religion was a subject Gen Y and all born after generally looked down upon. For a group of such liberal young men and women, the quick judgment thrown at a religious person was astounding. If it was vital to something they were learning, or viewing, or reading, it just was. It remained but was not focused on and if it was, it was done with a remarkable sneer and up-turn of the nose. There were groups that of course were fine with it, but these were much smaller in number than compared to their parent’s generation. This group attending the play was generally on the side of religion, even if they did not subscribe to it.

 

Sara found a free blanket she liked and sat down, crossing her legs like a lotus. The blanket’s pattern sprawled corner to corner. A sun was in the centre with rippled rays of light coming out, similar to the flag of Uruguay. There were white stars hanging across a changing blue sky. Thomas sat down next to her and Kurt opposite. Alice had gone to collect four copies of Salomé.

 

“There are a whole lot of monologues so I’m hoping the actors don’t fuck up.” Said Kurt in a measured voice. His hair was cut short and the colour blond. His eyes were hidden behind dark glasses. Thomas nodded. “Have you read it?” Sara asked Thomas, while ripping pieces of grass beyond the blanket. He shook his head. He liked to experience art with a pure perspective. Kurt understood what he was doing.

“It may be a pure perspective but it’s a mistake to watch this blindly without having read anything by Oscar Wilde.” “Yeah, I guess.” Thomas relented.

 

Alice returned and threw him a copy. On the cover was a painting of Salomé and a shadow cast by a figure just outside the frame. Herod and Herodias were behind Salomé. Both looked stern. Alice was also carrying with her four more copies of a different play. The cover was of a sun melting in to a horizon. The page was separated in to three colours: Yellow on the top, pinkish red in the middle (the horizon), and blue on the bottom, the thickest section. The title was laid out in the yellow section in purple colouring: Shared Summer Romance. The group viewed it without word.

 

More people had shown up during the conversation and there was very little space left. The crowd’s noise rose to a point where it sounded like a blend of only one note. Then, immediately, they went quiet. The cast was coming out of a pocket in the garden.

 

 

 

Chapter 3

Night had come and the moon and stars provided natural light for the ending of the play. When it finished, the audience stood up and clapped genuinely. The cast had retired back in to the garden pocket, stripping off their costumes as they walked. After a few seconds, the hum of conversation grew.

 

“How beautiful is the Princess Salomé tonight!” Kurt was doing his impression of The Young Syrian. “He’s the best.” “He’s a cliché of plays. He’s blind to a clear problem directly in front of him. He just speaks in such a gorgeous manner it’s okay to listen to.” Sara explained. Kurt shrugged, “Fine with me, honestly. And if you think about it, this might not have been a cliché back then…or less of one.” Sara agreed. “Less of one, at least.” “What did you think?” Asked Alice, tapping Thomas’ shoulder. “Oh yeah!” added Kurt, remembering it was his first time. “It was good, honestly. Need a little more time to think about it.” “Were you surprised?” Inquired Kurt. “Pretty intense ending…” He confirmed. He was quiet a moment. “I also didn’t know they’d be singing.” The rest murmured in agreement.

 

“So what about this? Think this is gonna happen?” Kurt asked, holding up Shared Summer Romance. “Yeah,” answered Alice, “one of the actors inside the garden told me it’s a bonus play. Only about half the length of Salomé”. Thomas was flipping through the pages. “Looks like it,” He added.

 

The crowd noticed the actors coming back out dressed in completely different costumes. Herod and Herodias had changed in to ancient-style clothing, and Salomé had transformed herself in to a different princess, an ancient princess dressed in jewels from head to tow. All went silent as the actor previously playing Herod held up his hands for quiet.

 

 

Chapter 4

Music began playing somewhere beyond the garden. The crowd could hear two guitars, violin, cello, and a horn section. Due to it being a live performance, to mix the sound without microphones each instrument had to know how loud to play. The horn section and strings quietly provided ethereal, higher-register notes, falling in and out of the melody one of the acoustic guitars played. The style of the music was tinged with older scales. Phrygian, often likened to stereotypical Egyptian sounding music or in general ‘Eastern’, was used heavily. The music filled the roofless garden, seemingly wrapping around its twigs and leaves, guiding them towards the stage.

According to the book, Princess Vera was the one dressed in jewels, and Father Schadazar and Mother Syrei were played by those who had been Herod and Herodias.

 

Princess Vera twirled and danced innocently across the carpets. Schadazar and Syrei stood in a corner, viewing their daughter with appropriate happiness. A never-before-seen actor dressed in colourful, good-quality fabric came out of a separate pocket of the garden. He had long dark hair and wore what resembled a toga, tied off at his right shoulder. This was Tynes Bakker, Princess Vera’s new husband.

 

“They are so in love,” said Mother Syrei quietly. “Yes,” agreed Father Schadazar, “and it pains me. He is by no means worthy of our prized daughter.” “She is pretty.” Answered his wife. “And bejeweled, by the hands of our slaves!” He added, incredulous. “She dances and they could fall off with every twirl.” “Some even do,” Syrei admitted. “Some do. Precisely.” Schadazar grew quiet again, and introverted. “I have been thinking.” “Yes?” Asked Syrei curiously. The actress produced a glimmer in her eye.” Schadazar turned to her. “The war in Aeitznej is not going to end any time soon…” He waited for his wife’s response. She nodded. He continued: “As a test, let us send him to the military. The summer is daunting, especially in the desert. Yes there’s a river but it can only supply so many.” Syrei thought it over. “Do it.” She ended the conversation.

 

Tynes Bakker and Princess Vera continued to dance happily around the blankets and in to the crowd. They were in bare feet, like the audience, and sliding across the blankets felt spiritual in the inevitable evening. They began their own conversation.

 

“To be honest,” Tynes expressed, “I’m surprised your parents approve of me. I feel so foreign.” He was voicing concerns he had long thought about. Vera stroked his cheek. “They accept you. Don’t think about it more than that. To dwell on the past is to dismiss the present.” He nodded, shook his head, and a smile appeared. “Let’s go talk with them.”

 

Chapter 5

It was the intermission. The crowd stood up to stretch their legs and the music that had been playing throughout switched in to comfortable jazz. Considering the sextet of musicians were not a jazz band, it was more than satisfactory.

 

“What do you guys think so far?” Alice asked, uneasy. She felt awkward reviewing something just viewed, especially when it was only half over. “I think it’s amazing. The lines at the end of the first act…’to dwell on the past is to dismiss the present’. Amazing.” Sara absolutely adored plays. They all accepted her thoughts eagerly. “I’m a little confused with the first half of the second act.” Kurt described the conversation between The four central characters and recounted their sending him off to the war. “I just want more backstory, honestly.” “It’s a fictional, hour-long play. I think this is pretty good. I am very impressed.” Thomas defended the play.  “What impressed me most was the music, and the songs. I hope there’s more.” Alice said.

 

The characters returned from the garden, and music began to play. The same melody the play had been introduced with.

Chapter 6

The Princess began to sing.

Why, oh why, to the city

Spread with ash

Moving fast

Oh move with intensity

 

Just end the war, bring him home

Painful scene

Moonlit dream

I should have left him alone

 

Why, oh why, to the city

Spread with ash

Moving fast

Oh move with intensity

 

The princess sang for about a minute, every beginning and final line belonged to a melody traveling up and down a scale. “I hope he’s doing well,” She murmured to herself. She clasped her hands together and threw them up towards the sky. She believed it would bring him luck. The music stopped playing. The princess grew tense. She looked in different directions. She could hear footsteps rustling leaves on the garden floor. Father Schadazar and Mother Syrei appeared. They held gifts in their hands. They felt guilty about sending her husband away, despite keeping their belief that it was the correct thing to do. Their daughter would not twirl anymore and her jewels grew bored. She only sang sorrowfully. Her parents talked less and less.

 

Skipping ahead—

 

Tynes Bakkar lay on a soaked red blanket. He was holding his wound and sweating. His hair was matted. The music accompanying him played triumphantly. This time, the horns were the stars. He got up and the music grew triumphant. He walked off of the garden, looking healthier with every step.

 

Skipping ahead—

 

Princess Vera sat in a wooden chair. It’s legs were made of tree trunks and it’s general structure was composed of thick, intertwining twigs and dark green brush. She had a blanket over her. She had grown sick with worry. Father Schadazar and Mother Syrei were slumped in the corner. They were grief-stricken. Their only focus was their daughter. This was also their undoing.  

 

A rustling in the garden announced Tynes Bakker’s return. He staggered in wearing new, clean clothes. Fine garb for a veteran. The entire family got up in blazing speed, all equally excited to see the prince return. Vera hugged him and kissed him, and Father Schadazar guided him in to a seat normally reserved for himself. He eased in slowly, and immediately had an heir of respect about him. Prince Bakker and Princess Vera held hands.

 

The play ended. Applause for this was greater than for Salomé. The actors beamed with happiness as they had pulled off something they had worked on for quite some time. The previously hidden musicians came out and bowed. They had their instruments with them and were wearing matching, colourful outfits.

 

 

Chapter 7

The group walked over the stones and again admired the mosaics. This time Thomas spotted Salomé, the only character in the collection not from Greek tragedy or comedy. They peeled back branches and small, green vines, bursting from the garden out in to an open field. The audience spread apart like a shallow stream stretching over a grainy path. Their shadows grew the instant they stepped in to the moonlight. “Remind me to pick up more limes when we’re in the car.” Sara asked of them.


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