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Tickling the Ivories

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Ivy’s hands flew over the rough, peeling keys of her piano, notes forming chords that created a warm ambiance. Her mind stole away to a calmer place, away from the chaos she was in now. Cracking one eye open, she glanced downwards, catching a glimpse of the broken hands now lying on the floor. She sighed.
The hands belonged to an ornate grandfather clock that had been handed down from her great-grandfather. Etched upon its smooth surface were dozens of scenes, each depicting characters writhing in pain and agony. Figures were holding up their hands, begging for mercy, as some unknown force seemingly took their lives away. Generations of Ivy’s family carved their pains into the clock, and it became a timeline, weaving its way through her ancestors. A large pendulum swung back and forth, visible through the foggy, glass case, creating a sharp ticking noise each time the gears turned slightly.

As Ivy played, her music flew through the broken house, desperately trying to mend what had been broken. When she stopped playing, her last notes echoed through the empty house. The resulting silence was piercing.

Ivy opened both of her eyes with difficulty. Her eyelids felt heavy as though they were resisting her demands to open. When she looked around, she was faced with the mess she had hoped would disappear. Her legs weakened under her weight as she tried to stand. One hand on the piano, she pushed herself up and began sorting through her once beautiful house. She rummaged through piles of dishes, stacks of books with their pages ripped out, and mounds of broken furniture.

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a photograph. Picking it up, Ivy looked down upon the glossy surface. It was a picture of a woman with flowing black hair and tan skin. A huge smile was plastered on her porcelain face and her arms were flung across a handsome middle-aged man with emerald green eyes. The woman reminded Ivy of herself. But it couldn’t be. This girl appeared so happy, so content. A glint of diamonds in the picture drew Ivy’s attention. Wedding bands were secured on the couple’s fingers. Ivy rubbed her own ring finger, feeling as though something was missing.


The memory of a chair hurtling towards her face shot through her mind. Her eyes squeezed shut and her hands flew into the air, as though trying to protect herself from the chair before she remembered it was only a memory. When she opened her eyes again, she was crouched down, hands shaking. She collapsed on the floor, her hand trailing down the wall to the ground. She wiped her arm across her forehead and when she looked at her arm, she saw a gash along her forearm. Gasping, she stood up, head spinning, and reached for a towel. The cloth she grabbed was soaked with a thick red stain.

Blood.

Ivy turned her head and vomited. Her insides felt twisted, like thick coils contracting under pressure. Her head still spinning, Ivy crossed the room to her piano. She sat down and looked at the keys. They too were drenched in blood she had not seen before. She began to play again, hands soaking in the warm liquid. She tucked her hair behind her ear, leaving behind slowly drying blood.

The clock’s low booming chimes interrupted Ivy’s playing. Becoming alert, Ivy stood up and glanced around. As if suddenly overcome with perseverance, she began searching fiercely through the trash. Clothes, furniture, food and dishes were flying everywhere. Ivy finally found what she was looking for in a drawer to the left of her oven. Bearing the kitchen knife, she trudged back to a clearing in the rubble, tripping over wood, glass, a body, rotting food, and a pair of shoes. The large clock came into her vision. Her hands grabbed the sides of the smooth wood and she began chopping away. Wood shavings flew everywhere, and she had to pause many times to wipe the sawdust out of her burning eyes. When she stepped away to see the work she had completed, her legs brushed fingers, and she quickly stepped to the side.

Engraved in the wood was a new carving. It depicted two figures, ghastly looks apparent on their faces, intertwined in a deathly dance.

After admiring her handy-work, Ivy stood up and returned to the piano. By now, the blood had seeped over all of the keys, and made designs in the chipping white and black paint. The blood did not detract from her ability to play. Her hands began their waltz over the colorful keys, and she fell into a calming trance once again, letting the music heal her crimson wounds.





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