To a love I never knew until recently,
Tick, tick, tick.
At the end of the room, practically touching the ceiling, hung a round wooden clock with black roman numerals on it. Chirping away, it did several jobs with its one sound. It was not interrupted by the odd footfalls stepping into the creaking wood beneath the carpeted floors that had dulled and become hard over time. It did not feign surprise at the flipping of pages, the noise that was the seat being rearranged.
Today, the clock would tell time, tempo and emotion. A quiet metronome, it held in time every note she wished to play.
Softly stroking it's exterior, she began her dance of love. To play the piano was to be romantically entwined with music, emotion and mathematics. She, like many others before and after her, knew that in order to play, in the true sense of the word, one had to strip down all walls and be completely stripped. Vulnerable to her core.
The lightest touch could ignite sparks off ivory and black keys. Nuances and subtleties swarmed in a flurry and no longer did she have control of her body. Her fingers trembled and trilled notes in the higher octaves of the piano while her left belted strong, resounding chords.
There was so much magic in being a pianist.
She would not deny that if she had not learned to play, the musical notes would appear obsolete and without rhyme or reason. The notes themselves sweet, however mechanical or outdated. With learning to play an instrument, she found that education had purpose beyond memorisation. It was her first outlet where after learning the rules, she had free reign to recompose Bach, Shakespeare and Picasso. Music, for her, was painting in a different language. She had learned the slurs, the stacatto's, the braces and millions of musical clefs. She had understood the theory, the history, but she breathed its purpose.
Her metronome clicked away in the background, playing instructor and master daemon as her hands learned that melodies can easily dance from the left hand to the right, and often they could collide. Control, balance. When she played the piano, she was sculpting herself into the woman she wanted to become, despite however much frustration it would bring to her.
It was truly a labour of love. No one in their right mind would play scales, cadences, dominant seventh chords and Hannon or Czerny exercises simply for the fun of it. They were tedious, but necessary. Like the building blocks infants grasp so that they can walk and talk, repetition meant that each time a traid or arpeggio was sung, it could be interpreted or mastered in a new way.
There is only one kind of piano player, in her mind. Those who play without emotion have yet to truly call themselves pianists, because they have not let themselves be fully immersed in the passions of life. Because that was what playing the piano was. Waltzes brought lovers together in the most cordial of fashions to swirl endlessly on elegant marble floors in elaborate ballrooms. Marches brought courage to the military of yesteryear. Nocturnes made you fall in love, and embrace the night for all its natural and pure beauty. You could play a song perfectly technically, but what good is an action without desire? If her heart did not bleed when she played, she could not grow, and the song would never even get a chance to be born.
It's easy to tell, where soul is lacking. It's unfortunate, but it does not mean it cannot be remedied in time. Like life, one must adhere to harsh rules of rhythm and melody, and it may frustrate some to the point of rigidty. Without doubt, she steeled her heart till she was numb many a time. When a labour of love is forced, it is no longer of love, and lust loses all its strength to hold the structure of music together.
It happens to all of us.
And just as the lessons ended, after 15 years of practice, week after week, she finally accepted the piano into her heart. She had felt the love on occasion, but she was more numb, and frustrated than anything. For the first time, instead of simply listing it off as an achievement, she touched the choral medley of ebony and ivory and cried love. The piano, no longer an instrument after being so heavily included and integrated into her life, was, in fact, a part of her. Its echoes rang pure, and no longer did the clock from above the ceiling tick closer and closer to when she could finish practicing. Because she no longer practiced piano like it was a rehearsal or a medical profession. She played it, she played its fucking heart out.
Whenever she could sense it, she played innocence, anger, fury and redemption. She sang eulogies and elegies, and wept romance. She danced with history and entangled fiction. She made the world her own.
And though the creaking carpet didn't creak so frequently as it did in the past, toward her piano, it was mutually acknowledged that there would never, from this day forward, let love lost again.
One soul, dwelling in two bodies.
With all her love,
your little girl
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