The Piano

She couldn’t tell you how it came to be that the ash was scattered about the house. She couldn’t tell you how a thin layer of soot blanketed every surface. Or how the windows leaked light through jagged cracks and fragmented shards. Or how the walls curled into the center of the room. Everything was falling apart, everything was a decayed version of something passing, or something that never existed. Everything was a spoiled version of an ideal, a dream never realized, slowly turned rotten like bad fruit.

But there, she sat.

Familiar figures floated about her, familiar and estranged. They pressed upon her body, manipulating the space between her limbs. She knew the voices, could trace a faint scent as they passed. There was a vague recognition in the fine distinctions of their features. They were known to her. She knew them by name, as the branch upon a tree. But they remained strangers. They pressed and pushed and shuffled her as a card upon the table. They pressed upon her but remained beyond her reach, one grasp beyond affection and comfort.

Just..

out..

of…

reach..

They moved themselves away from her as quickly as the rushed upon her; there, and gone. But mostly, gone. They moved themselves away from her, because they moved themselves further from themselves, retreating to shadow. They could not look at her because they could not look at themselves.

And there, she sat.

She sat with her companion, a mistress of smooth auburn planks, which mirrored the glow of her fine hair. Together, they were cooper, fire and warm; afternoon sun. Together they existed in slivers of sunlight in the dust filled oikos. She sat, reaching for the only embrace that would receive her, the only voice that would return the call. Their connection dispelled shadow with every strike, lighting the dark corners with a burst of flame. Her slender fingers would never forget the smooth surface, the gentle receptacle that awaited her touch, and cradled her identity. She always thought her fingers had too many knobs, protruding like a virus upon the trunk of a tree. She looked down upon them and thought of her father. But as she placed them back upon the shelled surface, they stretched and thinned and danced upon the shining wood like a figure upon the ice. These slender digits would feel, see and hear, guiding her through the memories of a melody, or clumsily attempting to construct a new fantasy.

Just there, she sat.

This beautiful instrument would extend her call across the ruined history and pained present. “I will be heard,” she thought.

hidden-self

It was for herself that she played.

And sometimes, for him, the dark-haired man wrestling with reality. He painted their house with a brush all too hopeful and diluted with delusional optimism. Wrestling, painting, baking fresh batches of cookies into the night, and slowly gagging himself with the strings of his grey apron. He was everywhere else, and then in the kitchen – this is where she could reach him.

She played, she sat.

She could never see him, only feel his presence from beyond the dividing wall, hear his step as he entered the archway and smell the crackling sound of bacon upon the hot stove. She could not see him, but the music found its way past the curling walls to the center of his curled character. She started to play, softly at first, allowing the melody to carve a pathway through the dusted air, searching for the listener. Each note struck the air with a desperate beauty, louder than her azure eyes. She grew. The hammers violently struck of a desperate hope, which would remain only that. The expression expanded, pounding the ruined walls, swelling to a steady shake. The structure was crumbling, but remained in ruin. She played, pounding upon pedals and kicking the keys, vibrating the feeble frame of a family that would remain under the ashes. Only he was listening, but somehow…missed her song.

It’s a tree.

It’s an ocean.

It’s a tree.

It’s an ocean.

It’s a tree.

It’s an ocean.

She played, she stopped.

She stopped, she cried.

And there, she sat.

Alone, as she once was.

The song was lost. The momentum dismembered from her desire. Even if the soles of her skeleton dug in the pedals, nothing could transcend the moment the music would cease, the moment she tirelessly stopped, and returned to the solitude of her freckled frame. Nothing would remain.

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