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The Last Symphony This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome our beloved Maestro in his final rendition of Beethoven's fifth symphony!

“And thank you.”

The Announcer finishes quickly, stumbles over tattered Bibles, sinks into his front row mahogany seat. He was chosen to speak everyone's last words. What an honor! The Announcer feels pride, a warm feeling in his chest that he will keep forever.

“Thank you,” he thinks. What a sentimental last phrase! Not intended for the Maestro, nor for the “ladies and gentlemen,” eager to hear the “final rendition.” His gratitude is for everyone and no one. And his voice broke when he said it! How unprofessional he has become!

“What time?” asks an Old Woman with bloodshot eyes sitting beside him.

“Seven minutes.”

“Oh.” She breathes out, her chest shattered by a series of rippling sobs.

Seven minutes … There was a time when he would have asked, “Seven minutes to what?”

The end of the world …

Three notes and a downfall. Beethoven's welcome of the end. The Announcer has heard it before. How famously clichéd the symphony seemed to him then, the oh-so-great Beethoven's fifth! How appropriate now. Wave good-bye to the majesty of mankind with a baton. Escape with the music. Hear the melody emerge a victor. A splendid idea!

The music pours on. A trumpet proclaims the promised land … They came here to rediscover love to the accompaniment of timeless beauty. What better way to spend the final seven minutes of the world?

Across the aisle from the Announcer, a Widow is cuddling with her two Daughters. The Mother's arms gently cover the Girls, and the Announcer knows that she would try anything in the world to shield them from disaster. Would have sold her soul to the devil, but it's too late …

A Bushy Man is smiling at the Widow from across the aisle. Beyond the slight curve of the mouth is a quiet afternoon in a cheap café, a friends-only reception, a warm family peace. Tale of a lifetime. “Perhaps it could have worked out between us?” asks the smile. The Mother's agrees. It could have all been true …

Six minutes …

The melody dances in the limelight. A medieval celebration. The imaginary lights and dressed-up people … What a fancy oblivion!

The trumpet brings back the promised land. What is there to do when all is slipping away? Dance to the tune.

There is a crash on the street. The people in the hall are silent, and so are the ones outside. The collapse of a building? It's the beginning of the end …

“Let the Maestro finish.” The Announcer glances at the bared Bibles below. “Let the Maestro finish. Oh God! Just one symphony. And four minutes left …”

There is a reconciliation in the music, an outburst, a celebration. In his mind, the Announcer can see his proud ancestors, building this now-rotting world, struggling for beauty. They hid it in the music, he realizes, to be revealed on Doomsday. What a grand scheme. How magnificent their dreams. And how hopeful they were of the future …

The Musicians are halfway through the end of the symphony. It tells of a Man who conquered a storm. But the storm is growing stronger …

A lonely trumpet rings out in the silence. Three minutes until the final ovation …

A Preacher is reciting the beginning of the “Holy Father” …

Fifty-three times. He's tried it fifty-three times. For God's sake, finish it! thinks a young man in the same row, a bright College Graduate who once won a merit-based scholarship. He's been a star student for as long as he can remember. Oh, what grand ashes of dreams he still has smoldering inside! Three minutes to fulfill his desires … He reaches out for his Parents. They are crying. Just like at his ­graduation.

The music is escalating, gaining force.

“No more!” someone in the hall screams. “Stop! Oh, God, please stop! Oh, God!” he chants, moans, whispers … No one turns to look, not even the Announcer. He loved observing people once. A useless skill now. Let yourself be consumed by the music, you hysterical fool, he thinks. You will miss it in the afterlife. But “Oh, God” will be there. You bet he will … I almost believe it myself now. He smirks at the holy books at his feet. They are silent, stripped of their leather covers by a desperate vandal.

Two minutes … The music is getting louder, filling the room. There is no escaping. A storm is raging, drying their useless tears …

“No more!” pleads the Announcer. It is a silent scream in everyone's head. “No more!” A boiling kind of insanity is cultivating in their midst, hearts beating out the countdown to oblivion.

“No more. Silence … Silence!” The Announcer
doesn't know if he is begging the music to stop, or the crashing and the falling and the high-pitched screams rising outside, increasing in volume – a macabre chorus of the dead intertwining with the music, deafening the listeners and the relentless musicians. It is insanely loud …

But the refugees gathered in an abandoned church are now lost: the Widow in her daughters, the College Grad in the Parents that made him a shining star. They are lost in him. Music is raving, invading their used-up bodies. Relaxed for one second, beating at their souls the next. Four booming notes, then a quieter melody, a glimpse into heaven, a celebration of glory. Soon will come the last four-note motif of the symphony. One minute left …

No one in the hall is looking at the clock anymore. They can see and smell the end. They are hearing it and they are shivering from it. They feel the storm. Good-bye to mankind's grandeur! There couldn't have been a more proper way to say farewell …

There is a Banker from Park Avenue; a Farmer and his Freckled Family from Oklahoma; a War Veteran with an artificial leg that has made him so unpopular with the Ladies; a stuttering Preacher, messing up his final amen; the Widow's two Daughters of indefinite ages, faces distorted by a torrent of tears; the Announcer, a prominent TV figure, a sworn bachelor with a liking for people no one suspected; an Artist smiling at the Widow from beneath the mustache he had hoped to resemble Salvador Dalí's; a Businessman crying with a Teacher and a Truck Driver and a Doctor and a Professor of No-One-Knows-What; a Middle-Class Family of Five who once ­believed they were the embodiment of a long-forgotten dream, cuddling in the warmest corner of the church; a Beggar, no worse off than the others now. And in front of them all stand the Musicians, indulging in their last masterpiece, delivering a sacred storm to the hearts of their discrepant audience, while the Maestro's frantic baton conceals the collapse of the world outside.

Thirty seconds … A momentary quieting in the melody. An intimate good-bye for friends and family. More crashing, banging, crying, falling outside … The music is in unison with the world, now crumbling, collapsing, ending …

One note left, thinks the Announcer. Disaster will soon devour his front row. “Finish it, Maestro. Finish it.” He turns to the ruined Bibles. “Oh God.” One second … “Finish …”

The last thunderous chord rings clearly in the universe of chaos and destruction …

But no one's there to hear it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Dana M. said...
today at 5:29 pm:
Um, wow. That was incredible. Keep up the good work, my friend!
 
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asofnowThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm:
That was really good. I liked it a lot, especially the suspence.
 
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WonderWisherThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm:
Very nice. I like how you left what was going on outside to the reader's imagination and you kept building up the suspence until the very end and had the announcer as the main character. Overall amazing. Keep writing!!
 
Yuliya007 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm :
Thanks! I'll definitely keep writing. Glad you enjoyed my story :)  
 
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