She sits, in a chapel filled with 300 children. They have all sat through the very early, very long chapel service, together they recited the Our Father in perfect unison. Kids are being nudged awake, while most fidget in the un-heated space. She herself feels tired on this cold Monday morning. The pew is cold beneath her legs and time and time again she wishes she could be allowed to wear jeans. She picks at a thread on the hem of her plaid skirt, hoping nothing starts to unravel. To pass the time, her eyes wander, reading the 14 different panes of stained glass, each depicting a Station of the Cross. She never understood why Jesus fell down so many times. She guessed the Cross was really heavy. The beautiful colors of the glass mesmerized her but saddened her at the same time. There were other pieces of glass surrounding her, but the Stations always kept her attention, she never tired of them.
She can hear the sound of water dancing but she isn’t sure… oh yes, the fountain. Off to the side of the chapel, there is an indoor fountain, turned low, mostly as background noise, they call it the pool of reflection. Right in front of it, a teacher sits next to a small tape player. As the chapel service dwindles to a close, the children are asked to continue to sit. As the teacher presses play, the girl holds her breath.
As the music starts, she smiles and situates herself better in the pew. She becomes very still as she closes her eyes. This is her favorite piece. She can hear each note, as if they were all floating around alone at one time, only to find each other at this very moment, to become this perfect sound. She thinks of the sound of rain, of the cool air on her face. She feels the music swell which in turn causes her heart to fill, jumping to her throat is if she wants to cry. While she listens, she can see the story the song tells, like a movie behind her closed eyes. She feels the loneliness, the passion, the ultimate love story with each bar played. She can imagine the conclusion, one of satisfaction.
As the last notes of the song play and start to slowly fade away, she can feel her classmates around her start to awaken. It’s as if they all sat in the spell of the song. Or maybe, just maybe it was always her, drifting away in her own head as she was so quick to do. She stands, knowing it might be some time before she can hear her song again, and escape for just a few minutes.
Years later, as she writes, she can still feel the peace that Debussy brings. She can still smell the polished used on the pews, she can still hear the sound of the dancing water. Most of all, she can still close her eyes and, if only for a few minutes, see the beautiful love story being played behind closed eyes.