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THE PIANO by Marge Simon






Surely it can't stay here. Especially now, with Jesse in her life and plans and promises to keep. She leans back, drops her hands to her sides hoping to relax in the cool dark. Her eyes stray to the shape of the Baldwin across the room and suddenly she's back sitting on that hard bench. She hears the ticking of a metronome. Aunt Harriet stands stiffly at her side, a frown slashed between her eyes. The flash of Harriet's swift stick. "Faster, child!" No matter the pace she races one hand after the other, that stick always finds its mark. And then as the last note fades, "Unacceptable. Play it again." So no matter the pain, she begins again. Please make this the last time please god, please.

There were other things too, much worse than the piano lessons. She never told Jesse about that part. She never would.

Maybe she should call Jesse. But they'd already discussed it and this was her thing to deal with, that nemesis the movers brought in yesterday. It was in Aunt Harriet's will and here it was to stay. It was her obligation, she was told by the executor. Her parents dead in the car accident, she should be grateful she was taken in. He'd underlined that with a toothy smile. Her fingers stray to the tie on her nightgown. Idly, she draws it closer to her throat.

Sometimes a thing becomes too heavy to hold inside. She knows there's something she must do. Her fingers are stiff from lack of practice but she forces them to find the keys. It will be Bach. An English suite, the only one she'd always botched. And slowly the music came, soft and hesitant at first, then more confident the notes return surging, flowing freely out in one great release at last so right, so very, very right. She sends it rising to crescendo with a flourish of final chords.

She sits a few moments, shivering in the stillness. She smiles. Then very gently pulls the cover shut.

Marge Simon, 2004
All Rights Reserved



BIO: Marge Ballif Simon free lances as a writer-poet-illustrator for genre and mainstream publications such as Nebula Awards 32, Strange Horizons, Flashquake, Extremes, Space & Time, Dreams & Nightmares, Dark Regions, Fantasy Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, EOTU, Tales of the Unanticipated. She has illustrated three Stoker award collections. Her illustrated poetry collection, "Artist of Antithesis"was a Stoker finalist in 2004.

Marge is former president of the Small Press Writers/Artists Organization and the Science Fiction Poetry Association and now serves as editor of Star*Line.