The Piano

by Elizabeth Arlen

Chapter 1...

The dream first visited me the night my father and I moved to Forsythe. I could see only the keys of the piano, what the whole picture was, I could not tell. No one physically played them, but they moved all the same. I heard no sound.

When I woke, it was still dark out. The shadows were rooted to the crevices and walls of my room. I rolled onto my stomach and looked out the large bay window; I could see trees rocking back and forth in the wind. Heavy clouds lingered over the moon, but the sky still glowed. Through the open window, a cool breeze floated in, bringing with it the sweet smell fall has just before the leaves change. Sitting up, I stared from my window to the street below. An orange streetlight flickered on and off.

Then I heard music; a sound so glorious I can compare it to nothing else. I stood, went to the window, and searched for outside signs of the origin. But there were no lights on in the other houses and no one was about the streets. It was suddenly louder behind me, so I closed the window and left my room to explore the house. But as I closed the door behind me, the music vanished from the atmosphere. Still I moved on.

The house was new to us. We moved to Forsythe after my father was promoted at work to open and manage a new grocery store. Some of the hallways and unexplored spaces were still covered in the chalk-like dust that inhabited the entirety of the house on our arrival. I crept around the second floor, looking into empty rooms, the bottoms of my feet growing whiter with every step. A floorboard creaked under my weight, so loudly that I flattened myself against a wall in surprise. It was then I noticed the door leading to the attic.

It practically melted into the wall and if there was no doorknob, silver and shining in the dark, I would not have seen it at all. Hesitantly, I took the knob in my hand, twisted and pulled the heavy door open. A cork hung in front of me, strung through with a bit of twine. I pulled down and a light, dim and yellow illumined a short staircase. I continued on.

It was at the top of those four stairs that I saw it. Black and glossy, it stood with its bench alone in the middle of the room. No other object would have had the capacity to distract me from the beautiful instrument in front of me. It was the piano from my dream. As impossible as it sounds for me to know such a thing, I just knew it was the same; I could feel it. I walked forward and stroked one of its pristine keys as gently as possible. Then I pressed down. The tone rang out loud; sound filling the contours of the room. When I heard it I froze. My heart beat so loud that I could feel it resonating all over my body. I held my breath and squeezed my eyes tightly shut for just a moment.

The sound was so pure; it held no distortion I thought might come with untended age. As I opened my eyes in search for the almost tangible tone, I noticed the strange dust again. Not surprisingly, the chalk-like dust inhabited this area as well, but it did not touch the piano. The piano was spotless.

An intrusive feeling then came upon me. I felt so suddenly as if I didn't belong and it greatly frightened me. I ran from the room, turning off the light and slamming the door behind me. For a moment, I leaned against the door to catch my breath, but the feeling from the attic was still with me, and I couldn't stay there long.

I returned to my room and sat down on the window seat. Dawn had begun to touch the corners of the dark horizon and the breeze had completely faded from the air. The orange streetlight had finally burnt out. I just couldn't stop thinking about the piano. My mind was a mess of thoughts and questions. How could the piano stay so clean? How could it possibly be the same piano from my dream? How did I know for sure?

Then, I noticed a boy who looked around my age was standing across the way, looking over at my house. He was very still and seemed to be looking right through me. When he finally saw me, our eyes met briefly before he started away, his hands unmoved from deep within the pockets of his brown, corduroy jacket.

End Chapter 1...

AN: Thank you for reading this story. This is actually for my Gothic Literature course, we have the option to write an essay on The Picture of Dorian Gray or we could write our own Gothic story. So, I'm getting as much feedback on this as I can. I would really appreciate any constructive criticism from the people out in FP and thank you very much for reading!