Cheerful Keys

The piano was an instrument forced into my life. It choked my feelings and time as I played it with a cold heart. The piano book would go C, D, E, and so on like it was the easiest puzzle of all time. But I was wrong. My mother would scream at me, disappointed, with how I played, and within each mistake of each note. When I pedal I lose the melody as if I was toppling down a ladder, and when I play the wrong note it was like my brain went out of power. I gave up.

After quite some time, I went downstairs into dark blackness to my basement to organize some of my memories and boxes that needed cleaning. Opening a box, a level 1 piano book was dusted and placed neatly in the middle of the box. Picking it up I swiped the dust to see it flying away into the moist, cool air.

I laughed…in guilt. 

It’s been almost six months since I touched a single key. Six months, and yet the piano sits there crying with no use. I opened the book to see multiple scribbles, notes, so many I felt a little dizzy reading all of it. As I began to put it back, I paused. My grandfather used to say, “To accomplish something so far yet giving up is the worst decision,”. So I didn’t.

I took the book into my arms as I went upstairs.

The first note after six months came into play. 

The rain came down quite hard, with each of its tiny spears pointing to the ground. I felt it prickle my skin as I sprinted to the back entrance of the building. It was a normal afternoon in New York at Carnegie Hall.  People shuffled into the main entrance like ants eager to watch the live performance. It frightened me as much as I wondered, how many people would be watching? Will they like it? After auditioning for an elite competition back in December and being accepted, I was filled with joy to take this opportunity to perform. What I didn’t expect was to perform at Carnegie Hall. What made this such a hallmark of New York was the many different performers that came here to make an outstanding show. We could go to Pink Floyd, Marc Bolan, and not even just bands, to pop and classical. This place was just something speechless to be at.

My shoes clacked in a rhythmic beat as I hummed quietly, deafened by the noises of cars and people. The back door opened as I walked in hearing the squeaking shoes as if a mouse was chattering in the room. A man in a red suit (I prefer the suit-man) stood there waiting with other performers. 

“Ah, you must be Edison Kwok?” he said cheerfully.

“Yes sir, that’s me,” I replied.

“Good, good, we may proceed to the backstage,”.

He opened the elevator as we scampered in excitedly. I look down to see a kid next to me shuffling, and scratching his ankles with his shoe. A girl next to me bit her lips and shivered. The elevator opened leading to a dimmed hallway. Before I could even practice he shocked me.

“Edison, you’re up!” he exclaimed cheerfully.

“But, bu-” I began.

He opened the door to the stage as the other performer left smiling as if she was looking at the world. The lights had a red effect making me feel quite warm and anxious to play. Though what surprised me was how the piano was shaped. 5 years ago, I simply played on a baby piano, and songs that were so easy I bet that a baby could probably learn in a month. Now it’s time to show what has changed to my mom and everyone who counted on me.

The piano had a curved leg as if it melted into the ground, and has a glistening glass reflection that sparkled like a confetti of beautiful colors as I walked to the side. Bowing, the audience clapped as I sat in the seat feeling the life change around me. Chopin’s waltz always changed the way I felt and played within every one of his pieces.

And this was the piece that changed my life.

As I slam the first note, the world around me changed quickly. It’s a busy night in France, 1820, and royal families began to swing, waltz around the piano like a perfect wheel-spinning over and over. As I slowed down, they got slower too, lightly tiptoeing in a grace formation like a shooting star glazing over the sky. 

I played harder and faster.

The world changed suddenly again. I could see carriages moving quickly down the forest, as rain pierced into the ground and the horses trotted leaving a wet footprint into the face of the Earth. Not only the passengers but the horses ran for their life. The swish, and splash, eased smoothly with the piece as I continued to play even faster and louder. And faster and louder. The horses neighed and smoke flew from their noses as if they were a dragon ready to torch someone. 

I played slowly.

Then, the memory faded away, as the royal family yet again waltz lightly with other kings and queens watching with their big, owl eyes. They danced like there was a tornado, twirling and twirling gracefully. I smiled as I could imagine the beauty of this if I was there, but it ended, as the final note hummed lightly over the silent crowd back at Carnegie Hall. 

The crowd roared, as I stood up smiling as if I were as goofy as a clown. Looking into the darkness, I tried looking for my mom, but she just blended with the audience like black paint. The audience settled, and I left feeling the room around me cheering. I was confused, happy, amazed, just… Wowed. I turned one last time to see the piano giving me a thumbs-up as another suit-man closed the door. 5 years ago, I would play a scale and screw up everything while now I could simply change the imagination with every kind of note there possibly could be. 

I went into the lobby to see many smiling faces and hugs as everyone was proud. My mother came to me quickly in tears and hugged me. I closed my eyes thinking about my Grandpa in his rocking chair and smoke pipe back in China. The memory still came to me from a long time ago…

“Hey, Grandpa?” I said, sitting in a chair next to him in the park.

“Hm? Whatcha need?” he asked.

“Did you ever give up on something in life?”

His smoke pipe whiffed the air and disappeared as he lit it again.

“Well, what a question. I did…trying to solve a puzzle,” he chuckled.

“Grandpa, come on like I gave up on piano and mom is mad at me,” I replied.

He stared at me with a curved eyebrow. I couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or not.

“Well, to accomplish something so far yet giving up is the worst decision,” he said smiling as the last of the smoke disappeared into the air.

Back in New York, the rain with spears stopped. I walked out with my mom and looked into the sky. The sunset settled faintly and skewered into the clouds that stood proudly. I looked closely into the sunset,  and you could see my grandpa in the sun giving me the thumbs up like that piano.


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