A Scene Through A Window
I have a mug with a Christmas scene painted on it. The mug has a picture of a little house, the outside decorated with lights, and snow falling all around the tiny house. I’ve always wondered what would be going on inside that house—what scene I would see if I were to peer through the window.
It occurs to me that a scene can be deceiving. Sometimes it doesn’t tell the whole story. After all, it is just a scene. It’s like reading one scene from a book; you can’t know what the whole story is about. I had a journal once just full of scenes. They weren’t stories; they were just snippets into the life of a person whose story has yet to be fully told.
Anyway, I’m going to tell you about a scene from one of my favorite stories. The story is called the masque of the red death, and it’s by Edgar Allan Poe. I know it’s not actually a scene from a window. But when I read a book, it’s like peering into a window and seeing someone’s life unfold before me. The scene I’m referring to is the one where the author describes seven chambers in which a party is to take place. The author goes from chamber to chamber, describing what he sees. He describes the first room as being vividly blue; the second was purple, including its ornaments and tapestries. The third being green, as were its casements. He tells that the fourth chamber was lighted and furnished with orange. The fifth white, the sixth violet, and then he goes on to tell of the seventh chamber. He speaks of this chamber as being shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceilings and down the walls. The carpet was of the same material and hue. It was in this chamber that the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes were a scarlet, a deep blood color. There was also a gigantic clock of ebony.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was completely obsessed with the symbolism of this scene. I couldn’t tell you now what the colors represented. It was so long ago. The scene from this story tells you that despite the party to come, there will be certain death and despair. When the author talks about the panes of the window in the last room being a deep blood color, you sense the doom to come.
Maybe that’s another reason I like it so much; it’s almost a dark shadow looming over the festive party, you know something those partygoers don’t. Whether it’s reading or writing a scene—if the author does it right—you’ll have a sense of what’s going to happen even if the characters don’t.
That’s probably why I like both reading and writing, especially writing; you’re in control of what happens to your characters. You decide whether they escape their danger or fall victim to it. The outcome is entirely up to you. Most likely, it’s a way for me to feel in control of my life.
If you were to peer into those stained glass windows from the masque of the red death long enough, you would see those partygoers drop from the mystery illness one by one. I say long enough because, in the beginning, you would just see a party with people enjoying themselves.
Back to my mug with the little house decorated for Christmas just as the scene from the masque of the red death fills me with dread and fear, the scene from my mug warms my heart and beckons me to recall a Christmas scene from my own life.
As many window scenes as there are on this planet, some foreboding and scary, others warm and happy. I’m more interested in the reel of scenes unfolding before me telling a tale whether it be happy or sad.