Word Count: 667
Prompt: I’ll be home for Christmas
Summary: Composer Arthur creates a Christmas classic
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Arthur tried a new combination of notes. It sounded good, slow and wistful, yet seasonal and yearning. He noted down the sequence on the music sheet, but couldn't think of any words to go with the melody. “Because Christmas is in my heart,” he said, sounding out the lyrics. “No, it doesn't work.”
Arthur looked at the fire in the grate and the decorations running along the mantel. He gazed at the tree in the corner and the mistletoe hanging above the door. These ought to be a source for inspiration, but weren't.
In search of the words, he played some more, but had no luck. This was too bad. He had a contract to fulfil. The song needed to be recorded in two days time. And he had so little. So little.
He was strumming along, when there was a knock on the door. Arthur went and got it.
It was Merlin, wearing a heavy-duty coat stained with snow, gloves and hat. “Hello, Arthur.”
“Merlin!” Arthur smiled widely. He hadn't been expecting him, but the surprise was welcome. “Come in, don't stand there like an idiot and freeze in the cold.”
Arthur gave Merlin eggnog and sat him before the fire.
“So what are you up to?” Merlin asked, as he cupped his mug.
“Writing the song.” Arthur sighed. “It won't come and the deadline is the day after tomorrow.”
Merlin took a slow sip of his eggnog. “Let's see if I can do something about it.”
So Arthur went to the piano and started playing the melody. He had it down and was proud of it.
“I'll be home for Christmas,” Merlin said, sitting on the same piano seat as Arthur. “You could use these lyrics for the refrain.”
Arthur took them down, writing them above the notes. “Yes, it works.”
“Let's go on,” Merlin said. “Let's find words for the introduction.”
They stayed at the piano, Arthur playing the song, Merlin helping with the lyrics. Thanks to Merlin's cues, Arthur wrote out the lyrics for verse and pre-chorus and managed the refrain. Merlin never flat out told him what to write but he was a constant source of inspiration. He came up with alternatives and spare rhymes whenever it was needed. He displayed a talent for quick thinking and as a wordsmith. By the time it was completely dark outside the song was finished.
Arthur replayed it from beginning to end with the new words in, then turned round and hugged Merlin close. “You've done it, Merlin. You've made the song.”
His chin on Arthur's shoulder, Merlin still clung tight to him. “No, Arthur, you did it all by yourself. The song is yours.”
Arthur wanted to object. He wanted to tell Merlin how much he'd achieved, how much he'd helped. But Merlin kissed his ear, then his cheek, his nose and mouth, and Arthur couldn't think anymore, let alone put up arguments.
Two days later Arthur recorded the song, respecting his deadline. His producer patted him on the back and said they had a classic on their hands, the perfect carol everybody would croon to.
By the next week the song was on the wireless, and soon on everybody's lips. People whistled it, people sang it and quoted the words. Arthur's producers had been right. The song, however hard to believe it was, was a success.
Christmas Eve came and Merlin invited himself over. Arthur had made dinner and the table was spread for two. There was turkey and potatoes, mince pies and sweets. They had the radio on and seasonal songs were playing, a motley of classics and new.
Standing by the tree they drank mulled wine, which Arthur made, and exchanged presents. They were thanking each other when Arthur's song came on.
Merlin smiled, leant closer, and kissed Arthur. “Merry Christmas, Arthur.”
Arthur returned the kiss, making it slow and soft. “Merry Christmas, Merlin.”