“And then he says, ‘Oh and she can’t speak’ ” I burst out angrily into the phone as I gripped it tightly, “He practically cut off my balls and used them for earrings” I said running my hand through my hair in frustration.
“So let me get this straight, you’re getting singing lessons off a twenty-two year old girl who can’t speak?” asked Eli.
Eli Roth was a good friend of mine. I had met him at the Cannes Film festival four years ago.
We had been in talks of doing a period film together with him directing and me starring- the project had since fallen through, but our friendship remained.
“Twenty-One” I corrected absently as I walked around the lavish hotel room that I would be staying in for the next eight months.
He laughed and I rolled my eyes in annoyance, “I’m glad you find my pain amusing” I snapped as grabbed my packet of cigarettes and lighter from the bench.
“Oh relax Gerry!” he said pointedly, “If you’re doing anything wrong I’m sure Andrew will fix it” he said soothingly. His attempt to calm my worries, whilst needed, was in vain.
“Do you understand how much is riding on my ass for being able to sing this right?” I asked as I went out onto the balcony and lit up a smoke. I inhaled deeply, letting the smoke curl around me as the nicotine entered my lungs, “This is one of the most iconic characters in the world!” I huffed as I put the cigarette to my lips and inhaled deeply.
“Just do your best” he said simply, “That’s all you can do”
I exhaled the smoke quickly and venomously, “You sound like my Mother” I snapped.
“Fine, go and get laid! Get yourself some tension relief” he explained.
I rolled my eyes as I leaned on the balcony railing, letting the blistering New York sun beat down on my back, “I can’t do that” I said simply.
“Ah yes” he said, as if seeming to realise something, “Emmy…” He purred- of course he knew of my feelings for her.
I took another long drag of my smoke as the complications of that problem added to my already stress laden mind, “How is she?” he asked happily.
It was sick the way one of my best friends got off on my mental anguish, “As beautiful as ever”
“And what are you going to do about that?” he asked innocently, though there was a hint of condescension in his voice, I could tell he was genuinely interested.
“I have no fucking idea” I sighed as I put the smoke between my lips to inhale deeply again, I glanced at my watch, “I’ve got to get to my singing lesson” I said stubbing the cigarette on the railing before flicking it over the edge. I watched it fall down the many stories below.
He laughed, “Let me know how that goes” he said cheerfully as I went back inside the cool hotel room.
“Will do” I had no doubt that he would be the first person I would call and complain to after the impending lesson was over.
After saying our goodbyes I headed out into the blistering New York heat.
I was quite thankful that the hotel and the rehearsal building were only a few blocks apart, I only braved the heat for a short while before I was once again in an air-conditioned building.
Walking down the hallway I spied the small silver name plaque on the door ‘Voice Studio Five’ opening the door I was instantly met with the searing and haunting notes of the Phantom’s overture.
I could see her, Lucy, playing the piano. Her dark hair falling down to the middle of her back as her head bobbed slightly with the music as she pressed the keys. I could see she was wearing large circular earrings with blue beaded-tassels falling from the bottom of the hoop.
It was only now that I noticed she was in fact wearing a lot of jewellery; multi-coloured beads around her wrists, a large golden locket hung around her neck. But I noted, with interest that she wore nothing on her fingers, yet there was an assortment of bulky rings sitting atop of the piano.
I closed the door loudly and she suddenly stopped playing, whipping her head around to look at me, “Morning” I greeted.
She nodded and turned back to the piano, I crossed the room in three easy strides and grabbed the chair by the window and dragged it over to sit closer to the piano.
She pushed a piece of paper across the top of the table in my direction as she went about rearranging her music. Grabbing the sheet, I saw it was the piece from ‘Once Upon Another Time’
I was still sceptical as to how this was supposed to work- how was someone who couldn’t speak supposed to teach? Let alone the fact that I felt completely idiotic in taking advice from someone half my age. Or how I was supposed to sing a duet by myself…I hoped that Emmy would be coming. Then again, I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of her.
Silently she began playing, her fingers pressing elegantly against the keys, her face down in concentration. Taking a deep breath, I stared to sing, “Once upon another-” I had barely sung two words, before she stopped playing abruptly.
I looked to her in confusion, I was expecting to see her turning a page or looking for another music sheet, but no, she was texting on her phone!
The mere shock of seeing that might have coloured my anger. This was ridiculous! Here I was trying to work, trying to prepare for a gruelling mental and physical ordeal and she was texting?
I clenched my jaw in anger; biting back the insults I wanted to fling at her as her many bracelets jingled annoyingly as her fingers flew across the keys. She may have Andrew fooled that she was some musical genius, but I however, was not convinced.
Looking up she turned to me and held out her phone for me to take.
What? Did she want me to see what she had posted on Twitter?
Sighing in aggravation through my nose I grabbed the phone from her and looked down at the screen. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, but a simple text-message: Too early.
Looking up I handed the phone back to her with a sigh, she took it and turned back to the piano. Pressing down on the keys the music started again, she played for a moment before she nodded to me, taking this as a sign I began to sing.
“Once upon another time, I-” I began to sing but she once again stopped, shaking her head, looking up at me she tapped her wrist, making the beads of her bracelets clink together.
Too early again it seemed.
Sighing I waited for her to start playing again, I was getting aggravated, “Once upon another time,” I sang, “I knew how out story would-”
She stopped playing again, “What now?” I demanded.
Grabbing her phone, she typed a quick message before handing her phone to me, sighing I held her eye for a moment, before she looked away.
I looked down at the phone: you need to hold the note longer.
Sighing in aggravation I handed the phone back to her, she didn’t look at me, “How do you suggest I do that?” I asked sarcastically.
How in the world was she supposed to tell me how to do something when she couldn’t speak?
Taking her hands away from the piano she took a very exaggerated breath in, then out- this was the only time she held my gaze, before she looked away, turning back to the piano.
She began to play again “Once upon another time” I sung, she raised her head slightly, I took a deep breath, “I knew how our story would-” I held the note but she stopped playing.
“What now!” I snapped. My patience for this exercise was draining. I had been in the room for at least twenty minutes and I was yet to get past the first line of the song.
She pressed a note of the piano, letting it ring out for a moment before she turned to me. I had not sung that note before.
Taking a deep breath I hummed, she winced shaking her head before she pressed the note again.
The note sounded different to what I had sung, she put her hand to her mouth and slowly opened it up, widening her mouth as she did.
She wanted me to open my mouth more.
Pressing the note again I opened my mouth and tried again.
She shook her head.
“Oh for fuck sake!” I burst out angrily standing up I threw my hands down violently.
This was too hard. Far too hard. And aggravating!
I’d repeated the same sentence for twenty minutes yet I had not improved. My frustration boiled, “I can’t do this!” I said angrily.
It was not easy for me to admit that. I hated feeling weak but at the moment this felt impossible.
I wasn’t thinking straight, all I knew was that I had to be free of this hellish task, “I quit!” I growled going to the door.
I reefed open the door and marched down the hallway, anger pulsating through every step. Walking out into the sunshine immediately stopping on the footpath and pulled out a cigarette, quickly lighting it and putting it to my lips.
No sooner had I begin to inhale than it was ripped from my lips.
I looked down in alarm to see Lucy standing in front of me, stubbing the cigarette on the ground.
“Hey!” I complained.
She didn’t even look up as she wrapped her small hand around my wrist and began to pull me down the street. What in the world?
“What are you doing?” I demanded.
She simply came to a stop on the side of the footpath in front of an ice cream vendor.
Grabbing her phone she typed a quick message before handing it to the attendant.
I read it quickly and nodded with a smile, handing her phone back. She smiled which caused me to frown in confusion as she pulled out a handful of money and placed it on a counter.
The attendant then handed her two ice cream cones with balls of yellowish ice cream on top. Turning back to me with a smile she handed me one which I took in confusion. Licking it, she motioned for me to do the same.
I looked at her with the utmost condescension before I dubiously licked the ice-cream. Rolling the cream around in my mouth as I tasted it.
“Pineapple?” I asked curiously.
Nodding she motioned to her throat in a massaging manner.
I frowned, “Is this supposed to be good for me?” I asked.
She nodded, holding out the ice cream, frowning I took it frown her, she pulled out her phone and typed something rapidly before she held it out to read.
I handed her back the ice-cream before taking her phone and read the new message: Pineapple is good for the throat. Ice Cream is good for the mood.
I snorted and handed it back to her, “I don’t think ice cream is going to make me feel better”
She shrugged and started walking back towards the building.
Reluctantly I followed her back.