NHT's Writing Desk

 PIANO

The landlady's family inherited an old roller piano when i was about four,
and the idea of peddles making music became an obsession -
and especially intriguing was the automatic something that made the piano play by itself.
You see, if this something was done ahead of time, 
the piano repeated the same song until someone threaded up another roll.

i loved that piano but mostly from afar.
It wasn't electric and had to be started up by manpower, 
and though i'd tried and tried (when no-one was around),
my legs just weren't strong enough to move such heavy pedals ...
they weren't like Grandmother's sewing machine with its big pedal,
a great place to sit and rock, that is, until Grandmother heard you!
Something about 'messy threads' but it was hard to tell -
 Grandmother's yelling came more in Lithuanian than in English.


So the sewing machine's single pedal i easily moved,
while the piano had two pedals which i couldn't even budge ...
and well, challenge being Aries' sun feedbag, giving up just isn't an option

One morning after a grown-up party, i climbed the piano bench yet again. 
As i plotted my next move, frustration disconnected mind from body, 
and idle fingers began tittering at the keys –
after a few notes the melody of a song seemed to catch my attention - 
i tapped further keys tentatively to hear a song carve itself from nothingness - 
the song which played repeatedly during last night's festivities
(my room was across the hall from the party room) -

"On the Isle of Capri" ...

wow, i don't need those pedals!  
i excitedly thought to myself.

Just then distracted breakfast conversation in a distant kitchen turned attentive:

--Listen. Who’s playing piano?
--i dunno
-- 'can’t be the wee one, she's not strong enough...

my battle with the pedals was not secret,
but concentration on my fingers playing silenced sounds of chairs scraping floorboards
so i neither heard nor saw the gathered audience until someone gasped –
and my heart jumped! i was positive i was in big trouble. 
But i wasn't, i didn't understand why i wasn't, and no-one bothered to explain.
Instead, their steaming mugs of hot tea in the kitchen called them back.

i hadn't yet heard the expression to play by ear, but once i did,
i'd often imagine how life might've been if, instead of the landlady,
my musical prowess had been discovered by my mother, a professional singer.


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