It’s 3 AM, and I’m leaving a party in the Mexico City suburbs. I had spent the evening in the corner with my best friend agonizing over the same girl. I put on “Fuel To Fire” by Agnes Obel, a soft haunting melody that stirred an inexplicable and irresistible melancholy. The melodies evoked a Sartrean nausea, as if this world was not mine, but it was strangely beautiful too. It was an inescapable but ineffable feeling that urged expression. I began to imagine a weary middle-aged writer with round spectacles and a somber smile. He walked the Parisian streets late at night, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. I raced home to give the impulse form. When I arrived, I rushed to my veteran out-of-tune Yamaha, and started to compose.

I lowered the volume so my mother wouldn’t hear me playing. I played a sequence of notes in the minor C scale without overthinking it. I gently repeated those three solemn notes over and over again until I found the dynamic and tempo that created the right suspense. The main riff conjured up the writer now driving at night on a lonesome and quiet road in the forest. He feels trapped in the sadness of his monotonous life, and turns up the volume on his stereo to seek some escape. Then I played the same sequence but a note lower, and then again lower. I then moved to a higher scale to build up tension as the writer drives into the unknown.

The scene of this man started to take on form as I played the music over and over again. I sensed the character recall his rebellious youth. He felt forgotten, alone. His nostalgic glance needed a soft accompaniment. So I transitioned to a lower pitch with some variation. Up to this point the music had remained a repetitive melody. This break in the music’s narrative helped me imagine more vividly what the character would do now. The man is filled with regret, he feels he has taken the wrong path, symbolized by the road.

The mysterious ambience of the track ascends until the writer’s internal conflict reaches a climax. His breathing rapidly increases. The oxygen flees his lungs. His head starts pounding. I wanted more tension. As he pulls the car violently off the road, a musical crescendo. The cello strides into the melody with an electrifying wave over the now-empowered piano riff.

The writer, clutching his shoulder, crawls out of his smoking car. He lays there for a while, re- catches his breath and begins to hear the moon shining, the tree branches clasping and the wind softly blowing, the dark forest now looked different. All of these tiny sounds and the crepuscular light falling down on him made the man feel enchanted and fascinated. The writer feels the need to be a part of this world again; he needs to pursue his long lost dream of writing a screenplay.

There was a certain innocent essence left behind in my childhood, where everything was new and adventurous. But when I turned 17, and I had to take my German Abi exams, the world suddenly felt more structured and disciplined. Would it be like this for the rest of my life? Would

the spark of life forever be lost? This is what I feared, and still continue to fear, and what the man in my short film fears too.

Music speaks words before I know them. It breathes life into struggling writers and sentimental teenagers. It is essential for a late-night car drive.

Liam Aguilera Kelly is a freshman majoring in Film. He is from Mexico City.