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Silencing the Ivories MAG
As her aged hands masterfully performed myfavorite Chopin piece, I was in my prime. Hammers massaged my well-kept stringsand the sound was magical. Though it was hard to keep up with her nimble skill,none of the beauty was lost. Playing such melodies was common for me, and Ialways took those times for granted. Little did I know this performance would bemy last.
I am a Steinway piano, the best of all baby grands. I may begrand, but I am no baby. Compared to most pianos, I have been around the block atime or two. But, at 50, I am in better shape than most instruments on theshowroom floor.
My mistress was Lucia, a piano teacher 20 years mysenior. It was always just the two of us in that cottage on Little Ossipee Lake.The only company Lucia had was her students, who ranged in age from five to 85. Ilike to think that even if she hadn't taught, I would have been enough for her.
After purchasing me, Lucia used me constantly. Before she began teaching,she would write music with my help. She would play for hours after the moon hadrisen, scribbling notes and rests between keystrokes. When she started teaching,I experienced even more joy.
All kinds of people played me during thoselessons; children and adults came from all around to learn from Lucia. Throughthe years, I watched students go from "Chopsticks" to Beethoven.Everyone enjoyed my beautiful sound, and Lucia always kept me clean as a whistle.Every day, she would spend nearly an hour dusting and pampering me. Betweenlessons she cleaned my keys, especially after a little boy with stickyfingers.
The best times, though, were when Lucia played me alone. She wasextraordinary, and always referred to me as her pride and joy. She would sit onmy worn bench and dive into a world of music. The hours would slip by without usnoticing. Lucia was my life, and I was hers.
Many pianos just gather dustand end up as podiums for family photos, but Lucia treated me very well. I knewexactly when I would be played and cleaned, and thought nothing of it. But onenight, I finally learned the meaning of the saying, "You don't know what youhave until it's gone."
The last few weeks had been uneventful becauseLucia was ill and had canceled her lessons. She played me only three times, and Iactually gathered dust. That night, sitting in the dark, I heard a loud squealingand saw red and blue lights outside our cottage. Suddenly, the front door flewopen. Standing there with a key in his hand was Jimmy, one of Lucia's favoritestudents. A flurry of men and women shoved him aside to wheel in an emptystretcher. They headed quickly toward Lucia's bedroom. All was quiet for amoment. Looking very worried, Jimmy came over and sat on my bench.
Minuteslater, the strangers rushed the stretcher out the door. I noticed it was nolonger empty - it held my precious Lucia! Were they kidnapping her? Why was Jimmysitting there doing nothing? I wanted to scream, "Jimmy! Stop them!" Ifonly I could speak. As I sat there in a panic, the blaring siren and blinkinglights resumed. I watched the kidnappers get away in a big white van. A shorttime later, Jimmy got up, shut off the lights, and locked the door. I was alonein the darkness.
Four days later, overwhelmed with worry, I heard a signof life. I was bursting with joy when Jimmy came through the door. But why was healone? Where was Lucia? I watched him close the door and land on the couch. Hewas weeping and wore a black suit.
I recognized more of Lucia's studentsand friends as they trickled into the house. All the men wore suits and the womenwere in their finest black dresses. Soon the house was filled and a partycommenced. Many drank from an elegant punch bowl that had been placed on top ofme.
I realized what was happening. This was a welcome home party forLucia. The kidnappers would bring her back, and she would play me again. Thatmust be why everyone is talking about her and crying, they are tears of joy. Iwatched the door, expecting my Lucia any minute.
While waiting, aconversation drew me in. Bobby, one of Lucia's younger piano students, asked aman where the guest of honor was. The man said, "Son, I know this isdifficult, but Lucia passed away. She had a heart attack."
The littleboy questioned, "But Daddy, when am I going to start my lessonsagain?"
The father shook his head and said, "Son, you don'tunderstand. There won't be any more lessons. She's gone forever."
Icouldn't believe what I had just heard. Lucia will be back in a few days to playme, write her music, clean me and give lessons, I convinced myself. That mandoesn't know what he is talking about.
After nightfall, the party began toslow. The students hugged each other, sobbing harder than they had all night. Asthe crowd thinned, I wondered where Lucia was. I couldn't have missed her; whywere people leaving before her arrival? She must be caught in traffic.
Thelast person in the house was Jimmy. Straddling my bench, he began to play amournful ballad. It was quite depressing, and halfway through, he collapsed on mykeys, weeping. A few minutes later, he got up and walked to the door. I was alonein darkness once more.
Days turned to weeks and months with no sign ofLucia. One day, I heard a sound at the door. She had come back! But Jimmyentered, arguing with an older man.
"Jim! Honestly, where are wegoing to put this thing? It's almost as big as our wholehouse!"
"I don't know right now, Dad. All I know is that I wantit at our place. When someone leaves you their prized possession, you can't justlet it rot!"
"You're leaving for college in a week. Your motherand I don't even know how to play. It will just be adecoration!"
"Whatever, Dad. Mom said she would clean it andkeep it nice. Let's take it now and worry later."
It seemed as thoughJimmy was going to take me out of the house. Terror overcame me. They began toremove my legs. When would I see Lucia? They put me back together in Jimmy'sliving room. He played me that first day but ignored me after that. A few dayslater, he left for college. The days passed. Nobody played me, but I was dustedonce in a while. Pictures and papers began to pile up on top of me. The dustthickened, yet I never gave up hope for Lucia.
During the holidays whenJimmy came home, I was ecstatic, thinking that he would play me. He never did. Hehad another interest now: his girlfriend. As the years dragged on, I was givenless and less attention. One day, they moved me to the garage. No one sees mehere.
After 30 years of waiting, I have lost all hope that Lucia is comingback. My days are numbered now, I feel myself growing old.
In my glorydays, my life was filled with lessons, kids, music, love and Lucia. I neverrealized how lucky I was back then not to be used as a bookshelf or forgotten insome garage. Most pianos will never know the love I experienced with Lucia. Now Ihave become one of the lonely ones.