Please Don’t Take This World From Me


Sylvana could feel one of her dark moods approaching and she dozed, shifted, twisted in bed until gone eleven. Curtains closed she found herself faced with the same demons she’d had tormenting her mind since adolescence. Why should she have to put up with this mental imbalance, this torture, every time it decided to descend on her? Not only did it leave her in a foul mood for however long it decided to stay around, it also annoyed the hell out of her that she should have to surrender to its black veil. Sometimes it was just too much, a burden too heavy.

She wanted to end it, silence it, for good. What did she have to do to get some peace inside her mind? Right now that meant getting up, taking another pill and making some breakfast. At times like this she found it hard to be civil to anybody, her mind cramped in the depression’s pinzer movement. She hated being rude, which hurt her even more, so she would retreat from company so as not to inflict her inner turmoil on others.

Fernando had had to learn to live with it, and she recalled him with the patience of a saint. He’d never understood where the black moods came from, yet he’d given her as much comprehension and leverage as anybody had a right to expect. Once she’d commented ‘I don’t know how you put up with me sometimes,’ only to hear him mutter, ‘I don’t either,’ but followed by a look of such remorse in his eyes that they’d hugged in a flood of tears.

Beatriz her daughter had had a hard time with her mother’s moods, another vicious turn of the mental screws on Sylvana’s fragile psyche, since she had her own demons to fight after the death of her Daddy. Why can’t you just get yourself together was the reigning thought in Beatriz’s young mind, and she felt hurt that not only had she been left fatherless, but when in the grip of her depression, her mother couldn’t always offer her the love and attention a child needs.

Sylvana opened the curtain after her shower, and felt the warm sun on her skin, which soon radiated into her bones and her insides. The mood just might be lifting, and she sat in the sun as it seemed to be miraculously melting her darkness away. Usually on Sundays she preferred to stay calm, and today seemed like it would follow the same pattern. Steve Hacket was in the other room, as he often was, and while he hadn’t physically moved in, his music was an ever present in her life.

He was a rare musician in that he could express himself equally fluently on symphonic wings as on classical guitar, solo or with flute. The fluttering brilliance of Jacuzzi filled the air like aural jets of water, its string soaked backing a bed of softness, sadness tinged with hope. She smiled as she remembered Beatriz barely a toddler at the time moving her body to the music, the way a child can embody pure happiness in a way it would be rare to capture again. The Steppes was another which painted a widescreen vista, the slightly Asiatic flute figure at the start giving way to a masterful display of slow relentless melody climbing like a creeper and building to an intense climax. How Hackett imbued his dramatic music with both passion, melody and depth of character was one reason why it remained forever fresh.

Genesis’ The Cinema Show came on and a sigh moved through her heart. At eleven minutes long, it might seem over ambitious, but the sweet acoustic part of the song, the flute and na-na-na-na vocal over a dense wood of acoustic twelve string could still transcend any room at any time. The five minute second part, surely keyboard player Tony Banks’ finest hour, boasted more glorious melodies than any other piece of music Sylvana knew. And they fit seamlessly, built naturally, and could portray the most romantic of love scenes with such tenderness, it was almost miraculous. Elgar, Britten, Vaughan Williams would have bowed down in awe. Hackett was a member of Genesis at the time and had carried the flame for the group’s heart of oak Englishness, which had been their calling card.

Take a little trip back with father Tiresias
Listen to the old one speak of all he has lived through
I have crossed between the poles, for me there’s no mystery
Once a man, like the sea I raged
Once a woman, like the earth I gave
But there is in fact more earth than sea

Sylvana had read up on the Greek story of Tiresias, a god returned to Earth as a woman then a man to see which enjoyed sex more, crossing between the poles evidently nothing new. They were all at it back then, as they still are now, she laughed out loud, the girls in the flat opposite enjoying each other, Sylvana unable to look away.

A while later fixing lunch, she was stopped dead by Wind, Sand and Stars, another of Hackett’s masterpieces. Ushered in by dramatic flamenco rasgueados, a delicate slow build gathers momentum with broken hearted piano ripples, like a lover running breathlessly through Victorian London, sweeping strings and a melody that just aches.

I watched you walk out into the world

more like a woman, less like a girl

the words you said

everywhere you tread

childhood’s over

but some things remain

like the way you cried in bed

Please don’t take this world from me

The day her daughter had left for University, Sylvana knew that life would never be the same. Another stage had come in the door, dropped its bag on the floor and said where’s my room? Unbidden, yet unavoidable. You knew it would happen but you couldn’t do anything to stop it, such was life unfolding for Sylvana, as it had since that dreadful crash ten years ago. ‘What’s happened to Daddy?’ She wanted to get those words out of her mind, but while she’d managed to squash them down in the bottom of her mind, they resurfaced from time to time and threatened to take her down with them. They ganged up with her black moods and it took every ounce of mental and emotional strength she could find to not want to end it all.

She finished her white wine, crisp but not weighty, dried her tears and snapped herself out of it. Largely she was fine on her own, life was simpler and she came home to an ordered world of calm and warmth, the way she wanted it. No conflicts, no stasis, just her world. But sometimes she wanted somebody to put his arms around her, hold her through the night.

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