For the Love of Music, Play on
written by

"If music be the food of love, play on." –William Shakespeare


I.
I Remember

My fingers continue to gracefully graze the piano keys as if under a beautiful and cursed spell. My heart beats in chorus with the passionate music consuming the air. My eyes witness a wonderful world that only I can see. My entire body sways with the various tempos, rhythms, and melodies of the intermezzos, marches, nocturnes, polonaises, preludes, rhapsodies, scherzos, sonatas, waltzes, ballades, capriccios, concertos, dances, fantasias, and impromptus—oh, especially that one impromptu!

Unbeknownst to me, time does not stand still. It moves forward as I stay behind, lost in my own magical world. However, some distant ringing disrupts my musical reverie and my fingers abruptly halt their motions while in the midst of a decrescendo. My heart stops beating for a moment or two, attempting to regain its original rhythm. My eyes flutter open and annoyingly greet the uninviting rays of the sun. My right foot releases the damper pedal and works with my left to push my body off the cushioned seat. I then shut my baby grand piano. All the while, the bothersome ringing persists in the background.

I drag myself out of the simplistic living room and into my second favorite room of the apartment, the kitchen. I step around a few cartons on the ground and dodge a misplaced chair, continuing my search for the troublesome noise. After quite a bit of maneuvering, I hear the ringing directly in front of me. I pick up a greasy pan and set it aside on the already messy countertop, revealing a beige cordless phone that insists on ringing. I hit a single button and a thunderous voice startles me, making me jump back in fright and collide with a sticky table.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?! You should've been here two hours ago! TWO HOURS AGO! Guess how many students I've sent home?! I've sent two students home already! TWO! You just lost us $120! ONE HUNDRED AND—"

"OKAY! I GET IT! Sheesh! By the way, thanks for damaging my precious ears, Robert. I'll probably go deaf in a few days now."

A sigh reaches my now sensitive ears, "I'm sorry Aria. It's just… how many times are you going to keep sending home your students?"

Complete silence fills both lines.

"You spent the entire night playing the piano again, didn't you?" I can hear the definite tone of his voice. "Aria, you shouldn't neglect your job. You're a piano teacher, and your students look up to you."

"You are obliged to say that. Plus, you just want the parents' money." As I say this, I know for a fact a grin rests on his face.

"Regardless, what are you going to do now?"

"Well, I didn't get any sleep last night, so I suppose I should catch up on my sleep," I say with caution, hoping Robert will find the kindness in his heart to give me the day off.

"I guess we can call John in for the day and let him teach your students—"

"Oh thank you Robert! Thank you! Thank you! Thank—"

"Don't think you're not coming to work today though!"

"What?! But you just said that—" That conniving little…

"I know what I said. However, you have a new student coming in today, young five year old David. He's your last appointment, so you should be here before 6 pm."

"Now you're adding an extra hour to my work schedule?! Shouldn't you have at least told me this last week, rather than on a Monday?"

"Yes. I probably should've, but I didn't." That annoying little… "I have to go and call John in before YOUR next student arrives. Get some rest now Aria. Arrivederci."

I hear a click and then the incessant dead tone. After a minute or two, I turn the phone off and set it down on the table that I have been leaning against throughout the entire conversation with Robert. Upon hearing my stomach growl, I survey my kitchen for something edible and decide on reheating a day old pot of tea.

I set the pot on the stove and turn a dial, permitting small flames to dance beneath the boiling pot. As I step back and lean against the messy dining table, I notice the different colored flames, passionately fighting with each other for dominance. Upon seeing this, I immediately begin humming Ludwig van Beethoven's Appassionata, which a high pitch sound just happens to interrupt before I can start the second movement.

With the high pitch noise indicating my ready tea, I stand up straight, reverse the dial, and carefully pour the steaming liquid into the closest cup, thankfully a clean mug. After setting the pot back onto the stove, I lift the mug close to my lips and blow at the scorching tea in attempt to cool it down. After a few minutes of blowing, my lips hurt and I decide to drink the now temperate tea, finishing it in record time.

Feeling satisfied, I place the mug somewhere in the kitchen and leave the clutter behind as I make my way past the living room and into the threshold of my bedroom. I lean against the doorway and glance at the large white digital clock above my unkempt bed. The black numbers, reading 10:38 am, contrast with the bright purple walls of the room.

I momentarily look at my inviting bed and then shift my gaze in the opposite direction toward my baby grand piano. I take another glimpse at the clock, relishing in the knowledge that I have seven whole hours before I must leave for work. Not that I despise teaching kids how to play the piano, I just dislike the idea of working.

I take one final peek at the clock, turn on my heels, and giddily skip in the direction of my piano. I make myself comfortable in the cushioned bench, position myself, and expose the black and white keys. I smile and commence playing Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 3 "Tristesse." As my fingers and the keys harmoniously produce dramatic outbursts of fourths and sixths, I surprisingly feel tired and worn out. With the return of Chopin's haunting theme, I begin to doze off, and the memories I keep locked away in the innermost part of my mind burst free to haunt me as well.

My head collapses onto the keys, generating unpleasant arrangements of notes. My eyes close, I drift away, and I remember. Oh for the love of music! Why do I remember?

- - - Flashback - - -

"Yes mamma, I'm fine... Don't worry. I'll visit home Friday evening, just make sure to cook my favorite dishes… Mmhhmm… Mamma, ti voglio bene."

I was a grown woman at the age of twenty, and yet she still insisted upon calling me every day. I placed the beige cordless phone on its charger and exited the kitchen, noting that it still needed cleaning; make that a lot of cleaning. After walking by my beloved baby grand piano, I pushed open the two large glass doors that led to my balcony.

I set my elbows on the railings and rested my chin in the palms of my hands. I stared at the clear spring sky and observed the distant bustling Ponte Vecchio, the famous Italian medieval bridge occupied by numerous shops. The Arno River drew the attention of my coffee brown eyes. Its crystal blue waters reflecting the surrounding scenery always amazed me. After being gone for over three and a half years, it's good to be home.

I have been traveling the world for some time, playing the piano and making quite a few guest appearances in renowned orchestras and such. After graduating from the Royal College of Music in London, I won numerous piano competitions and expanded my piano reputation. I even had the opportunity to play with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, a chance that I grasped and immensely enjoyed.

I have gained the reputation as "Italy's White Lily," the piano prodigy, Miss Aria Kaydence Marino. But I have always simply preferred being called Aria.

I came back to my homeland to relax and prepare for the 16th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition taking place in Warsaw, Poland the following year. Everyone felt sure that I would take home the gold. However, I just needed to hide from all the mounting pressure and return to the simple life of solely my piano and me. Thankfully, my agent tricked the media into thinking I was on vacation somewhere in the United States.

As my shoulder-length midnight black hair swayed with the wind, a smile graced my lips. I thought of being just an ordinary person for one year, away from all the lights with my music belonging to only me.

However, my smile ceased as I felt something hard smash against the right side of my face, knocking me out and onto the cool floor of my balcony.

"Hey! Hey! Are you alright?" As I regained consciousness, I heard a low voice frantically shouting in my ears, and my right cheek felt horribly in pain. In addition to all the chaos, I soon became aware that someone was vigorously shaking my entire body. Who is touching me?

For the love of music, did I feel annoyed. I always disliked it whenever someone touched me. Therefore, I slightly opened my left eye, since it hurt to open my right, to sneak a quick look at who dared to touch me. Completely dumbfounded, my eyes shot wide open, regardless of the pain. Through my bangs, I found the outlines of a gorgeous man holding me, with a scrumptious chocolate brown head of hair and deep blue worried eyes.

Wait! How did this man get into my apartment?!