The Piano

by Elizabeth Arlen

Chapter 7…

I spent a week trying to learn in a nutshell how to write what I heard in my head. After that, I gave up on trying to play it properly and just sounded it out by ear, so that I could play (badly) what I heard, while I made Emma's old teacher record it on paper. As frequently as I woke up in the attic, I started sleeping in there preemptively, just to see if anything different would happen. As a result, I found sheet music scattered around me every morning with new scribbles on them that I had done myself. If I inspected them, I found that they were corrections to Mrs. White, my piano teacher's, markings. Most of what she wrote was way off base and I stopped going to her lessons at all. The new marks showed up still anyway.

Then my father and I had an argument. He yelled at me for not eating or spending any time with him. I retorted by telling him that he never spent any time with me before, he was just noticing it because I spent all my time in the attic. School would be starting soon; I had to finish before then. I came to despise the day, when my body would wake up automatically from muscle memory. The more I slept; the more work was done on the piece. But after the argument, my father kicked me out of the house. I decided I was glad about it. I took the key to the attic and a few of my other things and crashed at Alec's house. His parents were both on vacation, so it wasn't a huge problem.

"Do you think your Dad will let you go back home soon?" Alec asked.

"Already looking to get rid of me?" I smiled. He shook his head and started to protest, but I continued on, "I know you didn't mean it that way. He probably will by tomorrow. Do you think I'll write in my sleep if I'm here?"

"I don't know, maybe," Alec replied. We both went to sleep.

I woke up the next day in the attic, lying on the floor. It didn't really surprise me that I had returned, but it scared me nonetheless. The key was on the piano bench and the sheet music in front of me had written on it, in my own hand, 'almost there!' I was so excited. Could it really be almost over? I took the music and ran out of the house as quietly as I could, hoping I wouldn't wake my father, to Alec's house to show him.

There were a bunch of policemen outside of his house. The neighbors were all standing around the taped off house and whispering to themselves. I pushed myself through the crowd.

"Hey, excuse me," I said to a policeman, "What's going on? My friend Alec lives here."

"The kid's dead," The policeman replied, "One of the neighbors called in a disturbance. She's over there, if you want to talk to her." I could hear the woman from where I was describing the incident loudly to the other neighbors and a policeman.

"…He was such a nice kid; always helped me with my groceries. Anyway, he and some other kid were having a fight on the porch. The other kid kept screaming at him, something about a key. I think he wanted it. Anyway, Alec wouldn't give it to him and they both went inside for a moment. Then the kid came outside alone, hands all in fists and whatnot and he ran off. Something just didn't feel right, I tell you, and I said to myself, something is just not right. Anyway, that's when I called the police and…" I didn't want to hear anymore. I ran off and hoped that it didn't look suspicious to be doing so. I let go of the manuscript paper and ran home. I could hear the pages fluttering to the ground behind me.

I was sure that I killed Alec. Something was taking me over in my sleep and it was using me to write that song. It couldn't be Emma's ghost or spirit or anything because I can't believe she would kill her best friend for the key to the attic. Alec must have tried to keep the key away from me, knowing something was wrong and I killed him.

I ran into my father's garage, looking desperately for what I wanted. Soon, I saw it and I sped into the house, past my confused father and into the attic. I stared at the cursed instrument for a moment before moving again. It looked so evil to me now. I walked forward and touched a key. The sound no longer was pure and beautiful, it was distorted and the corrupt sound twisted about the room. I became angry, swung the sledgehammer up and connected with the keys. I hit it thing again and again until it lay in ruins at my feet. Then I turned on the bench and smashed it to bits. Collapsing, I began to cry when I noticed a small book amongst the rubble. I paged through it and read…

The faster I work and try to escape its grasp, the more it seems to want me. I can't satisfy it, the song that never ends. I dream of a man's murder every night and I think he wrote this song. It is music so powerful that it couldn't die with him; it lives on in his piano. I know it's his piano, I know it's the piano from my dream. This song will never finish. It has no end! It will live on no matter what I do and there's nothing I can do to satisfy it. Today I'm going to kill myself; it's the only way I can be free of it.

Emma, October 19—

My father was calling me. He was there with me. The cops were downstairs; they wanted to speak with me. The woman had identified me as being the one who ran from Alec's house yesterday.

AN: Thoughts? Questions? Comments?