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Dusty Keys

The small room was as I had remembered it: with the small table in one corner holding a oversized lamp we had made together, the miniscule flowers frozen forever in their attempt to consume the shade; the piano sitting in the center of the room, our pride and joy for which we had saved so long to buy together; the pale blue loveseat nestled peacefully against the far wall, no longer having to bear our weight, laden now only with memories; the once-deep blue walls paled by the atrocity of time.

Dust sparkled in the air, the light from the small window in the corner of the dark room making it visible for a brief moment before it disappeared, replaced instants later by another speck. It seemed a bit ironic, kind of like Life, or like memories. A single speck, a tiny, unimportant particle, there for a moment, then gone forever.
I trailed my old, frail fingers over the polished keys that were barely visible in the faint light. My breath and my heartbeat were the only noises, seeming disproportionate in the dark, musty room.

The piano’s dust cover lay slumped against the wall, seeming worn and ancient after a lifetime of protecting its charge. A lifetime since he had died. The small love seat against the opposite wall now seemed large and overwhelming, with only myself to sit in it, his warm hands no longer there to fill the extra space. The unlit crystal chandelier above me tinkled slightly, the sound seeming muffled by the thick layer of dust that covered everything but the memories..

Those same memories flowed back to me the way dust flowed through the small chink of light in the room, fleeting and bright.

I sat at the piano, trailing my soft fingers over the keys, unsure of what to play. He walked up to me, wrapping his warm arms around my small form, his long, dark hair falling over both of our faces, placing his large hands over my smaller, more elegant ones, guiding them to the keys, and whispering in my ear, “You are wonderful, Anna May.” Our laughs mingled in the warmth of the lit room, echoing to the sound of our music...

His body, once so strong and warm, lay frail against the too-white sheets. His bare head glinted evilly in the harsh light. Tubes of every sort trailed from his body like giant parasites, leeching the life from his veins.

I cast the thought from my mind, unwilling to think he could possibly die. That only happened to other people, in other times. It could never happen to us. I reached one of my elegant hands out to his, and he guided it with his right once again, this time not to silvery keys in the dark, but to his heart. “It beats only for you, my dear. I love you,” he said, his voice tapering off until I had to lean forward to hear it, “my wonderful Anna May.”

My salty tears fell onto his limp hands as I put my head to his chest and cried, my chest heaving, my heartbeat alone in the white room...

I sighed, my small chest heaving, my vision slightly blurred and moist as a few mournful strains of the song traipsed through the air, my fingers unguided, alone on the vast, black and white platou of keys.

I turned to my large purse, reaching past my passport and plane ticket to a small vase. I drew it to the surface, holding into the small amount of light, wishing to once again admire the simple beauty of it. The surface seemed to move, glittering in the waning sunlight, the deep blue of it wrapping entirely around the elegant, tapered form. I pulled the small cap off, a slight puff of ash emerging into the light, mingling with the dust already there. I sprinkled a slight amount around the room, leaving the once white piano keys darkly coated.

“I love you too, James.” I blew a slight kiss at the keys, watching the ash flutter in a small salute along the surface, and a slight smile tugged at the corner of my dry, cracked lips. I tucked the vase back into my purse, closed the small door, and locked my heart inside.



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