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88 Keys This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Thornwood, NY
There was once a time where I thought self-harm was the only way to express my feelings. I had been overwhelmed by everything, and nothing, and during all those times a different object poked at my skin. Sometimes it was a knife, or a shark tooth, and at one point, I used a pair of scissors. And when I had nothing to use, I'd scrape my arm hard across my braces. I believed in nothing, in emptiness. This belief was shattered when I found music.

Piano is weekly for me; it has been since fourth grade. ­Although everyone around me admired my talent, it never seemed to interest me. During the days where I didn't have a lesson, the piano sat untouched; bits of dust collected on its surface. I knew how to move my fingers across the keys, but I didn't know how to play. I didn't know how to use my emotions to my advantage. I tried forcing myself to channel my pent-up feelings, but I could not find music. Music had to find me.

It was one normal night, and I was emotionless. But I sat at the piano and let my fingers glide as they played a ­familiar piece: the first movement of Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata.” Letting my mind unwind, I listened as if it were someone else were playing, not me. The last note resonated throughout my living room, and I realized I had perfected the piece without even trying.

It was another normal night, and once again I sat at the piano. This time, I played with no music in front of me, I let my fingers dance and tickle the keys. The piece played on and on for minutes after minutes, stopping with that final chord. I was involuntarily smiling; I never thought I would be able to do something of this caliber. I was a long way from fully ­utilizing my emotions, but I was getting there, step by step.

And during another normal night, I sat and once again ran my hands across the keys, absentmindedly singing along, fitting an old poem to the melody of my improvisation. After two minutes, I stopped and realized that I had composed an original song. I had learned to fully play the piano.

After those days, cuts rarely scarred my arms, and no dust slept on the piano. In no way was I extremely talented, but I was talented enough to appease myself. I had not found music. Music had finally found me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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