Like a Piano

Atop the upright piano leans a store-bought, framed picture in which piano keys swirl around a quote that is supposed to be inspirational.

“Life is like a piano, what you get out of it depends on how you play it.”

He sees nothing special about the frame, the picture, or the quote. But he is unable to throw it away. It is his mother’s picture, so he keeps it. Not unlike the piano.

His mother sometimes sat next to him and led his practices: disciplining his wrists when his arpeggios gasped and producing a metronome when his rhythm coughed. Even his posture failed to meet her standards; every few minutes she pushed the small of his back with a bony finger and pulled at his shoulders. At the end of his mother’s impromptu lessons his back ached, his fingers were painful to bend, and he had a strong urge to never look at a piano again. He hated it. And he never felt more like her son than when they shared a piano bench.

While the coffee machine whirs, as if contemplating whether it wants to work today or not, he sits at the piano and wonders what kind of music he wants to hear.

He decides, as usual, he wants to hear something like forgiveness. He waits as his mug fills with a coffee-like liquid. He allows the ensuing silence to pour throughout the apartment and settle like the surface of a pond after the stone-thrown ripples vanish into tired earth.

And then, as he does every morning, he rises from the piano bench without touching a key.

Keith Frady is a 23-year-old short story writer. He one day hopes to publish his first collection, and to write a Batman comic.

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