Written during one of my many-a-depressive episodes; a story of long lost love
You know when people hear rock songs, when they get caught up in their favorite part, they get this overwhelming urge to break out into really bad air guitar? Or when the bass is heavy and all of a sudden this chaotic thunder of drums breaks into a solo all its own and people call it talent?
I don’t buy that.
That’s not real talent. Real talent doesn’t exist.
It never has.
Some people might get better at it then others, sure, but talent was just a word. It wasn’t something that held the world together. Without talent, the world would spin on its axis, just like always.
You might be reading this and thinking, “What is this quack talking about? Just another artist screaming for attention.” Well, I’m not. I honestly don’t give a shit if you burn this note after you read it. Write it off. Forget my story.
But give me a minute. Just so for a even a second, she can be immortalized on paper. Not that words could ever truly justify her but someone needs to see her besides me. To prove that this was real.
To prove she was real.
Maybe, stranger, you can find her for me. Tell her about the note. Even if she doesn’t believe you, tell her she’s beautiful. I don’t know how you could miss it. It’s in her eyes. You’ll see. They way they gloss over when she hears the right note.
That single, sweet note that captures her.
Did you know I start every one of my pieces with that note? I bet you never noticed. You’re humming a couple in your head right now, aren’t you? Just to prove me a liar. It’s okay, I’d doubt me too.
It was a cheap trick, I’ll admit it.
But how could I possibly resist? It was the first note I ever pressed on a piano. The birthplace of my bones. Not soul. Souls are too flighty to fully describe what this music does to you. I don’t have a fancy metaphor to explain it; I was never good with words. That was always her. She had all the right words, I was just the background music that she took each step to. Each glance. Each breath.
The first to take the long way home, just to catch me during my practice hour. The first to sit under my window even when I told her to leave. My mother thought she was adorable.
I thought she was a stalker.
You were expecting something romantic, right? So was I. The most beautiful human being I had ever seen in my life and the moment I realized I was seeing her routinely, I thought she was some kind of creep. Not a gift. Not that chance coincidence I always chalked up as possible. She was some girl on some street, listening to some kid who couldn’t even hit all the right notes yet.
And yet she kept coming back. Strolled into our yard like she’d lived there for years.
One day, I got up the nerve to ask her what she wanted.
She told me she found what she wanted… but she would never tell me what.
To this day, I still don’t know what it was. Maybe that’s what I’m hoping for by writing this. That some stranger who never met her might be able to tell me what my thick head couldn’t figure out. What she never told me. What I never understood.
You’ve figured it out? Don’t lie to me, smart ass. I knew this girl an entire year. She was my world. I knew her very core and how to shake it. She knew mine and just how to break it. If I couldn’t figure out what it was she found, neither can you. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t peace, it wasn’t life and it certainly wasn’t love.
But I kept playing and she kept coming. Day to day, without fail. It was no big concert hall, no gorgeous garden with me out on the veranda. If I started my practice early, she would appear. If I felt particularly clever that day, I wouldn’t practice for several hours later, she’d still show up on time. It was like she had wired my house.
But she didn’t need wires. It was whatever she had found that she’d wanted. Something in my music, I suspect.
Remember that note I started everything on? My first note?
The first time I had let her into the house was when my mother wasn’t home. Without exchanging a word, I let her see the piano from a distance.
No smile on this earth can compare to it. Think of the most beautiful woman you know. Go on, think. I don’t care if she’s famous. I don’t care if she’s yours. That smile you’re seeing? The one that pulls at your heartstrings? Maybe even makes your stomach swim?
I don’t care if it’s genuine. It’s ugly.
If you find this girl for me, you’ll understand. Suddenly no smile will compare to it. Every picture you flip through in a magazine, see on a billboard or catch on TV will be nothing but cruel sneers. Not even the warm smile of your mother will be able to compare. After seeing that smile, even my own mother started to look haggard and old. The life left her face. I wasn’t being cruel.
She just stole my eyes completely.
Then she broke my core when, the first note I ever let her touch on my keyboard was the first one. You always remember the first note you ever learn. It may fade away as you learn scores and new notes and start to immerse yourself into song booklets… but somewhere in your bones, that first note you ever hit remains. It’s the single note that always sends a shiver through you when you hit it. That feeling of swelling up but having nowhere to escape so it remains a pleasant, tingling sensation. You probably don’t realize it. Maybe you’re not even a musician at all, stranger, and this concept is completely foreign to you.
It doesn’t matter. All you need to know if that she adored that note. I could tap it for five minutes straight in any beautiful or rhythmic pattern my bones could come up with and she would still sit there next to me, painting the picture I suddenly knew I had always wanted to paint with my music.
That was when I started to compose. My song. No, her song. It’s still incomplete. In fact, if you’re wondering why this entire story is written on the back of old, blank sheet music, well, these were supposed to contain the painting.
But as it turns out, I was unable to finish it once I lost my inspiration.
It would be beautifully tragic if I were to finish this tale with a simple, ‘she died’. It would have certainly made it more bearable.
Instead, she disappeared.
A full year after she passed by my house and sat under my window. A full year after I let her fall asleep on the keys and simply went about composing around her. A full year.
And then she was gone.
Like a ghost. Only she hadn’t been. She was life. She was warm. That smile may have not been entirely humane but it was still very much real. It doesn’t matter what the cops tried to justify. It wasn’t the story the newspapers tried to exaggerate as delusions of puppy love.
Love. Love, just like talent, didn’t exist in this world. It was just a word. The world still turned on its axis, even when love didn’t exist.
It’s not as cynical as you might think.
I believe in love.
Love doesn’t believe in me.
It’s rational. It’s not spirited enough. Too many people think they’ve figured out love and others see the word and immediately chalk it up to hormones. To people.
I spent months looking for her. I made it public. I told everyone. Not a person walked by me that I didn’t ask for help. Someone had to have seen her. She would stand out in a crowd. She was my world, after all. How could somehow look over the world and still look at you like you’re some sort of sociopath?
After a decade, I was crushed with the pressure of my loss.
Not because I was in denial.
Not because I had gone mad.
Not even because I couldn’t find her.
It was because, one day, her note went missing. I came home one day, to the house my mother raised me in, to the piano that still carried boxes that would never be unpacked.
The key that was once the most worn in the set was missing. Just an empty, gaping hole beside the row of black and white that had long since turned yellow with use. Well, I guess you can see it from where you’re sitting. I left the piano here for a reason after all. I left the boxes and the dust. I left the unfinished painting.
What was left? It’d been years. I’d grown wrinkles. My joints started to ache every time I got up or down from this piano. The painting remained unfinished… and how could I play her note without the key and how could I start her masterpiece without the tone that produced that smile? The tone built into my bones?
Even my fingers have forgotten the stroke. The stretch my ring finger would have made it press it. Old age set into it.
Even as I complete this, my last will and testament to you and you alone, stranger, my fingers can’t even hold the pencil right.
I wish I was creative enough to be able to claim now this story a figment of my imagination. A hallucination. But she was life. She was warm. I know I could see her.
To your understanding, I loved her. I grew old waiting for her. I died waiting for her. Just another sad story from an artist who never made it big.
But you forget something, stranger. I didn’t die at all. She was life, after all. She was my world. I lived for her.. and since her note disappeared, soon I will die for her.
So I ask you, stranger, that if you ever meet this girl, let her see the piano one last time. I don’t know of many things. I don’t claim to have all the answers.
But I know if you see her, she’ll need to see the piano one last time.
She has the key. Somewhere in a trunk or a purse, a pocket or a coffin. She has her note. Maybe she’s clutching it in her hand right now.
And if she does see the piano, if her bones have grown old like mine and she can’t even sit down without help, will you play her that note? Nothing fancy. Just tap it a few times. That’s all she’ll need.
Because whatever she’d found that first day she’d walked by, whatever it was that she had wanted and had claimed under my window sill, it’s in that note. It’s in that note, on that piano, in that house. It’s on that street.
So play it for her. So that even if you burn this note, she’ll know. She’ll know everything.
Because what I had with her was something bigger. It was brighter. It was louder.
It was a beauty the world hadn’t exposed yet… and it came from a girl with no voice.. and no mouth to smile with.
FIN ★ ☆ ★ Constructive critique always welcome!