I need your love so badly
I love you oh, so madly
But I don’t stand a ghost of a chance with you
He was playing it again. Tenor sax melting through the ceiling. Irresistible. Fatal if she let it.
Tori had bought earplugs. Cotton wool. She had convinced Mrs. Wong from the Chinese Noodle Bar to give her all her empty egg cartons so she could glue them to the ceiling. Desperate soundproofing. But yes, she was desperate.
There were songs out there that came along like a hot summer wind. So plaintive that you would sell your soul to whoever was buying just to get them to stop filling your heart with tears and longing and woe. But so sultry that you would buy that soul right back just to hear the song played one more time.
He was nearing the end of the first section. 32 bars of sweet smelling C major tones. Tantalising, teasing, the harmonic progression controlled subtly by the descending bass line. The immensities of love, desire, and doubt a blessed assembly in her lonely room.
Tori’s face was on fire. She flung open a window, breathing in the night air. Longing for a distraction in the street, longing for the phone to ring, longing for him to play this song for her forever.
She knew he was playing for her, carrying her forward to a place where all she could hear was her beating heart. She was in love with him. She felt a fool for thinking it. It was the kind of thing teenagers came out with, as if the whole world was ripe for romance. As if lovers could be invented, composed from nothing but ink and paper.
The second section started. E minor. Introspective, moody, the yearning so great she would have clawed through the walls to get to him. A circle of fifths that were a cry for help. Come closer, they said. This song is for you.
Tori held her breath as he plummeted to the bridge, arpeggios descending like soft fingers down a backbone. The dim light was mote-flecked with her fevered breathing. She existed now only when he played her song. Their song.
When he stopped she grabbed her coat and followed him as he hurtled down the stairs. He walked fast, sure-footed, the street lights glancing off him like drops of rain.
He went into a bar, pulling out his sax and playing the song. Her song. Their song. Chords clustered like starlight. She had never seen him before. Up close. But she knew him.
When he finished he came and sat with her. Their fingertips brushed on the tabletop. The air smelled of candlelight and contemplation. Sometimes the endings of stories came true. Sometimes two people walk into a room and just know. Tori smiled. There was no more reason to fear the drift of things.
* Inspired by the Search Engine Stories prompt : I need your love so badly.
The song mentioned here is the jazz standard I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You written by Victor Young, Ned Washington and Bing Crosby in 1932.
You can listen to it here.