Ebony Eyes

September 25, 2007
Donna gently led Carly over to the piano. “Want to see it?” she asked, conscious that she was being careful around her daughter. Carly did not respond, but stared indifferently ahead, her eyes a deep and empty black.

Donna sat down at the piano, remembering childhood summer hours spent indoors, tapping out tunes while her mother urged her to go play outside. She lovingly ran her hands over the ebony sharps and flats and across the ivory notes. Donna was very careful not to make any sound that might scare her daughter, who stood by the piano, her head cocked as she watched her mother’s hands drift across the piano.

Holding her breath, Donna pressed an E, the E that began Für Elise. Its sweet note drifted from inside the piano to Carly’s ears.

The effect was instantaneous. Carly’s eyes widened and she leaned forward, eyes big and as dark as the next note in Für Elise, E flat.

Donna pressed an E flat. This note twanged out of the piano. Carly inched closer, her pale skin blending in with the ivory keys. With her black hair, Carly almost looked like a human piano.

Donna continued to play the song, slowly and gracefully. She began swaying to the music, recalling how she loved the piano.

As the end of the piece grew near, Donna noticed that Carly had climbed up onto the wide piano bench and sat with her thumb in her mouth. Her usually dull eyes were bright with interest as she followed her mother’s fingers. Donna hit the last note, and the sound reverberated in the air. Carly took her thumb from her mouth and spoke for the first time that day.


So Donna played it again, this time blending the notes and sounds. Carly was enchanted. Her little fingers tapped her chubby little legs as they swung back and forth.

This time, when Donna finished, Carly put a finger on E. She pushed, and the E floated out of the piano. Her mother gently moved Carly’s finger to E flat, pushed, and then back to E. Carly’s mouth fell open and her ebony eyes grew even wider with wonder as she saw her hands produce the magical music. Then she laughed.

Donna almost wept for joy. Carly-laughing! Her daughter’s laughs were like precious and perfect jewels; they were rare and beautiful. So Donna kept guiding Carly’s hands to the notes, and Carly kept laughing, and Donna’s mother listened from another room to the sound of her daughter and granddaughter making music together.

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