I didn't know much about what i was doing, but once it got started it was much like the snowball...
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The Flashback--A Moment in Between
I slammed the door to my old car in fury. It groans in complaint. My father had wanted me to get a nice little BMW, or perhaps a Mercedes. I had shocked them both when I refused, and bought this piece of crap car just in malevolence. If they thought they were going to bribe me into submission with fancy cars, they would find they were mistaken.
Today had not gone well for me—to put it mildly.
I opened the door with the key, hearing a satisfying click as the tumbler unlocked. I put
the key by the table next to the door, and set my things down. The first thing I notice is the overwhelming sense of déjà-vu. I once heard that déjà-vu is caused by one half of your brain processing things quicker than your other half. But it doesn’t feel like that. I feel like I already know the outcome of the day.
Sure enough, just as I expected, I can hear the lilting sounds of the piano echoing in the background. It’s a beautiful, sad memory and I can’t help but be entranced as I walk towards the piano room.
When I was little, my parents had forced me to take piano. I loved it—loved the acoustics, loved the way the chords jammed together in harmony or dissonance, and the way I could play loud or soft by just the pronunciation of my fingertips. Of course, I gave it up. My mother had wanted me to play in concerts, recitals, and competitions that only God knows where she found. I vehemently told her that if she forced me to do so, I would give it up. She didn’t believe me, and so I did.
The piano room itself was an airy room, with a skylight and glass sliding doors that overlooked the pool and the gardens. The piano was a slick, black grand piano, with the top open and music bursting out.
I knew who was playing without even looking. And I knew how, in an earlier and alternate situation, I had handled it—which is to say badly. I had kicked the player out in fury, causing my parents to get even more angry than usual. The player had been there to mow the lawn, and clean the pool.
But now, thinking calmly, I really didn’t see much wrong with the playing. The music was lovely, with a unique rhythm and a sense of longing and overwhelming sadness embedded in the notes.
The boy who was playing wasn’t much older than I was, probably around seventeen. He had curling auburn hair, and long, slim fingers that glided over the keyboard. His face was an open, honest kind of face. His nose was straight, and had prominent bone structure. He wasn’t very extraordinary. Just plain. His eyes were closed, feeling the music in the tips of his fingers. His foot moved the pedal in perfect, rhythmical cadence to the song. He seemed unaware of my presence.
“A-hem.” I said, my voice calm. “What do you think you’re doing?”
He ended the beautiful, heart-wrenching note abruptly. I almost wish I had let him go on.
“Oh!” he looked startled. “I-I’m sorry. Today’s my first day—I’m here to mow the lawn—and I saw no one was home—and the door was unlocked—and then I saw this,” he gestured towards the piano. “And I just thought I could play and---“
His words came out in a jumbled mess.
“Ya, I get it.” I said.
He nodded. Suddenly I saw his eyes. They were a startling grey, almost electric. They reminded me of lightning bolts in a storm, how the light illuminated the entire sky, and made the clouds glow with tension.
“Please, keep playing.” I replied. His expression was surprised. I think, though, that I was more surprised at my response than he was.
“Are you sure? I had better start to work anyway….”
“No. Keep playing. Finish the song.” My tone was final.
He looked wistfully at the lawn mower, half pulled out on the lawn. Then he turned back towards the music, his hands resting on the piano, and then moving in a rapid procession to create the most beautiful song I had ever heard.
The notes, clear as a bell, and utterly legato spoke to me. They told me of pain, and loss and sorrow, and even death. He ended the piece, in one sad, and final note, the note quiet and full of desire.
“What was that called?” I asked, my voice filled with awe and peace.
“I don’t know.” He said, still hesitant he wasn’t going to get reprimanded for slacking on the job. “It doesn’t have a name on it.”
He handed me the sheet music. It was just a page of notes, no words or anything on them. It was done in old, crumpled paper, the notes scrawled in by hand.
“I should get going on the work.” He said, getting up from the piano.
“Wait, what’s your name?”
“Jameson.” He said, a corner of lips lifting up to form a slight smile.
“And you?” he asked.
“Anna.” He turned my name around in his mouth, like he was trying to get a feel of it. “Do you play?”
“The piano?” I asked.
He chuckled, “Ya, the piano.”
“I used to.” I stepped in closer, my hand stroked the black finish of the piano.
“And you don’t anymore?”
“Oh.” He sounded disappointed.
“It was my mother.” I blurted.
“It’s because she wanted me to get in to competitions she found on the Internet, and concerts, and recitals—“ my voice climbs higher and higher. “If I had kept it up, she would’ve wanted me to go to Julliard or something, or major in music, or apply for a job opening in an orchestra.
“Er, I don’t know what she would’ve done. She would’ve pushed me over the edge, and I had to get her to stop.”
There was a minute of silence.
“So you quit.” He said, making it a phrase instead of a question.
“Ya. I gave it up.”
“Was it easy?”
“No, nothing’s ever easy. I had loved the piano. I wanted to keep it that way, because if she had kept on it, then I would have ended up hating it, and that’s something I couldn’t bear.”
There was another silence, but, thankfully, it wasn’t awkward.
“Will you play?”
I looked at him, absolutely flabbergasted.
“I haven’t played in almost five years!”
“If it was something you really loved, then it will come back to you.”
I looked wistfully at the instrument. He was looking at me with those gray eyes, his expression unreadable.
“Play for yourself. Not for me, or your mom, or anyone else. Play because you love the piano, because you love what you do.”
His voice was convincing enough that I slid down next to him—the bench was very long. I rested my hands white keys, and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath. I knew exactly what I wanted to play.
My fingers had a life of their own, and they were dancing. They were skating along the keys, knowing exactly which one to play and when. My foot, even had a mind of it’s own, and I was tapping the pedal every now and then.
The song was haunting and beautiful. The notes reverberated to the top of the ceiling, then floated back down. I played loud, and then soft, the next moment I was pounding out the keys. I was content, and for the first time in a while, I was happy. I played for myself, because I had missed the piano. I poured my heart and soul in the music, letting it take me where it willed. When I finished, my hands rested reluctantly on the keys, not anxious to let them go.
“That was beautiful.” He said. All this time I had forgotten he was there. The afternoon sunlight poured in through the skylight, bathing everything in a golden tint.
“Thank you.” I said, meaning every word.
That’s when he got up, and left me, my heart pounding gently in my chest like the notes on the piano.