Image Credit: Favim - Kellie Elmore image prompt
There is a place in Western Australia where old pianos go to die. I read about it in a magazine. Some piano lovers decided their land was best suited to be a piano graveyard. People leave old pianos there. Out in the elements. They fall apart slowly and gracefully. Photographers go there and sometimes musicians. I’ve never been but perhaps this story is set there, perhaps not.
The woman lay in her bed. She didn’t have the strength to do anything else. Her mind and body were wrapped in a peculiar kind of stasis. She had no energy and could barely string two thoughts together in any kind of coherent sequence. The doctors were running tests. Perhaps it was this, perhaps that. The results were inconclusive. Opinions varied as to what she should do. Do more, some said. Exercise frequently. Do less, said others. One kindly specialist had advised bed rest. For now, his was the voice she chose to listen to.
Beautiful piano music issued from the radio beside her. She’d never been a fan of classical music. Never really understood it. Now it was all she could bear to listen to. The dulcet tones and wordless sounds soothed more often than not.
Today the piano music carried her into a daydream where she followed a twisting pathway through a mist filled landscape of ghost gums and Scotch thistles. Up ahead a man played an ancient upright piano with consummate ease.
‘Who are you?’ she asked.
‘A musician,’ he replied.
‘A magician?’ she queried, mishearing.
The man gave an enigmatic smile and bent closer to the piano. Rolling chords chased her as she moved on down the path. A thunderous crescendo of sound swept her up into the mist. It swirled around her, thick and grey. Memories came back to her. That time she’d yelled at her son when he was still a tiny tot. Screamed at him. About a misplaced shoe for Christ’s sake. A shoe! As if that mattered in the grand scheme of things. Then there was that time when she was young and had gone on a date with that guy with the strange eyes but who seemed okay until they went back to his flat and he threw her on the bed and fucked her so hard she thought she’d break in half. She should have listened to her intuition and recognised that strange look in his eyes as cruel and hard.
These memories and more swirled through her mind. Fragmentary moments where she’d been the abuser or the abused. Shame and pain overwhelmed her. She could not help but writhe about and groan a bit at the memory of it all.
The dark, heavy music trailed away into single notes as clear and light as the sounding of a crystal bell. The mist was suddenly shot through with golden light that danced around her. The memories seemed to dissolve into it until they were no more real than a dream. They were past and gone. She’d never make those mistakes again.
The musician/musician appeared in front of her again. This time he played a baby grand piano that subsided gracefully against the twisted trunk of a river red gum. The man gave her a gleeful smile then with a flourish played a series of gentle notes that whispered quieter and quieter.
The music ceased and the voice of the radio announcer bought her back into the room. She opened her eyes to see the sun had come out and cast golden beams of light through the lace curtains. That explained the swirling golden mist.
The radio announcer was going on and on about some up coming concert. It was in another city and sounded utterly boring. Alicia rolled over and turned off the machine. Perhaps she would get up today after all. She felt a bit better. A bit lighter and clearer somehow.