Piano Mirrors

Growing up, he had always known it was there. Dark, mysterious, closed, standing in the middle of the living room. Something to be in awe of, to quietly tiptoe around, to admire from the far corner of the room, all the while dreaming of the sensation of running his fingers along the surface, feeling the slight resistance when he pressed down, and the sound, of course, the sound. A sound that would be superior to any other. Gentle, firm, and curiously yet patiently waiting for him to take the lead.

Four years, that had been the rule. Four years of determined practice on an old, stubborn piece of wood that was fighting him with every scale, every chord, each single attempt of creating a melody that was more than a simple succession of notes. A melody that would speak to the imagination and bring the past back to life.

After these years of constant battle, the time had finally come. This time, instead of circling it, he could finally sit down and actually feel the power of the instrument, rather than admire it from afar.

He placed his hands on the keys, feeling the coolness and watching the reflection of his own hands in the vast blackness of the piano. Taking a deep breath, he pressed down and started playing. With closed eyes, he listened intently for that first sound.

The waltz slowly began to take shape, at times faltering slightly, but never fully stumbling. Yet, the magnificent sound that he expected did not come. Instead, it was merely an amplification of his previous instrument. Slightly deeper and more powerful, but no more than that. He frowned, burying his fingers deeper into the keys, at first trying to seduce the sound to come out, then prying more and more, scraping until the waltz haltingly came to a stop.

The crash of the bench falling to the ground pierced the silence that had taken over the room as he walked away from the piano with an aggression that he did not recognise from himself. Walking to the door that would lead him away from here he balled his fists, determined not to feel the disappointment that was boiling up inside of him. He unclenched his fist to reach for the doorknob when he heard it. A very soft, but clear note ringing through the space, slowly crossing the room to find him. Gentle, but insistent. The note that should have followed in the waltz he had so abruptly left behind. As he turned around, the sound faded and was replaced by a slightly higher and more persistent one.

This was not the sound of just a piano. It was the sound of his piano. The way he had always imagined it. One clear note with the entire essence of the instrument behind it.

And it was his piano. As he walked up to it once again, trying to find the origin of the music, the sound of another note drifted towards him. But this time he saw something from the corner of his eye. It was not the keys of the piano itself that moved. In the deep reflection of the dark body of the piano that rested against the back of the white keys, one key was pressed down by an invisible weight.

He quickly put the bench back up again and sat down, studying this illusion. This impossibility. And yet, he could still hear the promise of the note fading away. He hesitantly placed his hands on the keys again, carefully watching his reflection in the piano. Seeing how his mirrored hands touched the mirrored keys. And how his mirrored ring finger was pressing down on the mirrored key, even though he was not.


Marisca van der Mark



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