No, I am not dead. Just reverting back to life as a student. Just so you don't think I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing (writing Changelings), I figure I should upload a little bit of what The Man is having me do. This was for my Writing Reflective Non-Fiction classe a.k.a. Creative Non-Fiction. So, before you ask, yes, that is my real name, and if you have friended me on Facebook, you should already know that.
Anywho, this is based on a memory I have had stored away deep down. It was most likely the precursor to my expedition in musical performance. I still play...I just write more. And isn't that just lucky for all of you?
She bounds through the foyer at top speed, giggling as she leaps and takes flight over the two-step drop into the formal living room, her long tangled mop of auburn curls flying behind her. My fingers still as I feel my heart skip a beat, my breath catch in my throat. My jaw clenches and I can feel the edges of my lips pull into a frown. She's playing with fire again. My husband taught her how to jump over these two small steps when she was barely able to walk; now she can't go through the house without hurdling over them at least twice, hourly.
Landing on her feet with an audible 'thwump,' her body's momentum forces her down into a crouch. She erupts in laughter as she pushes herself up to stand, turning to grin at me. She's just lost a canine on her right side the night before. I sigh, pushing myself to the left of the hard piano bench, and pat the newly emptied space beside me. Her small skinny body paddles over and climbs up, tucking her feet beneath her for height. Her green eyes sparkle with curiosity as I place my fingers back on the keys and gently press. The piano thrums, the chords vibrate, and the hammers inside make contact. Suddenly the room is filled with the sound of music. I breath in through my nostrils, inhaling the faint scent of coffee beans from the kitchen on the other side of the wall, and open my mouth, singing the first thing that comes to mind: a church hymn I learned when I barely Amy's age.
I was never formally taught how to play the piano; I was never given the luxury. Even now, if you asked me I couldn't tell you what the names of the keys where under my fingers, or the notes on any one of the books scattered about the area. Still, I never stopped loving sound a piano makes; I never stopped loving how I could simply disappear in the music. I hear the resonance, and I feel the melody shudder through my fingers as I sing. My eight-year-old granddaughter looks on with wide eyes. She tries to sing along, but she doesn't know the words. Her childish gaze watches my wrists as I move them from chord to chord. She mimics my movements without pressing the keys. When I'm finished, I take a breath and look down at her. She's smiling so widely, her faint pink gums blend into her small, rouge tinted lips. "Amy Anne, would you like to take piano lessons?" I ask. Her mouth drops and jumps off the bench.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" My chest tightens, my eyes warm with the feel of unshed tears. I can't help but smile. She is my happiness.
I start at the far end of the family room by the old organ, setting my bare feet firmly in the carpet and crouching. I feel myself smile as the sound of Grandma's singing echoes through the corners of the house as she plays the piano. I can hear Grandpa's sports game filtering in from the den on the other side of the house. She's going to be mad.
I take off, my little feet pounding against the carpeting as I race up the step into the foyer. Adrenaline pumps through me and I feel a giggle bubble up inside my esophagus. Grandma's music suddenly stops as I reach the two-step drop into the formal living room. I plant one foot as close to the edge of the first step and leap, pushing all over my weight forwards. The air in the room is markedly colder than the rest of the house, and for a brief, enchanting moment, I'm airborne. I stretch my arms out and hold my breath; the moment is magical.
The ground comes up quickly and I plant my feet as I land, dropping to my knees and gasping. Shoving myself up, I turn and face my Grandma, a look of terror frozen on her face. Her lips are pressed together in a thin line and the edges pointing downwards. Still, I can't help my burst out laughing. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, pushing herself to the side, and patting the newly empty space. I pad over and clamber up. The piano is still too tall for me so I tuck my feet beneath me and wait.
Grandma smiles. She places her fingers on the keys and I feel the excitement shimmer through me. Her fingers press down and she opens her mouth. The sweetest voice I ever heard emanates from between her lips. I can feel my muscles warm and my bones weaken. The faint smell of coffee seeps in from the kitchen on the other side of the wall, surrounding me. I have never felt more comfortable.
She sings a hymn that she told me she learned when she was my age. It's a song she sings often, a song I have come to love. A secret part of me desperately wants to learn what the keys mean, what the notes say, how to speak the language of music. I watch her wrists as they move gracefully across the row of alabaster and ebony keys of our secondhand piano. My small, long fingers follow her movements on the keys, trying to understand what she is doing. It feels as though time has stopped; the air stills, the melody all blends into a single harmonious resonance that streams through me, the smell of Grandma's French perfume stings my nostrils, making my eyes water. I am stunned.
The music stops and Grandma takes a breath, and then turns and smiles at me. I smile up at her in adoration. Her eyes sparkle behind her glasses and she squints at me. Taking a breath, she asks, "Amy Anne, would you like to take piano lessons?" I feel my eyes widen and I shove myself off of the hard bench. My hands ball into fists and I grin so wide my cheeks hurt.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" I shout, my body shaking with excitement. My Grandma smiles at me, her eyes glittering brightly. I have never been so happy.
There you go. A tale of Grandma and me. She's still very much alive, thank the gods.
For my readers of Changelings, I have not forgotten you. I will deftly be working on the next part of THG tonight and tomorrow, so expect an update on Monday or before. That's my Labor Day gift to you. While your all out enjoying you day off, I will be enjoying my day on, writing.