‘Pianissimo’

Five days a week, the door clicked shut at twenty-five minutes to midnight, and Sini turned on the radio by her bed. She lay there feeling the itchy minutes tick like bedbugs, till midnight came chiming from the clock downstairs. At last, the jingle to her father’s show came like a fanfare, and his leathery voice greeted her. She was free to play.

If she really knew what she was doing she would have warmed up like ballerinas do, with scales and stretches. She was always too excited. At last, she was holding the shiny black beast by its teeth. Or perhaps it held her, like a kitten in its jaws.

Where would she start? Up at the thin strings, or in the rumbling thunderclouds of the left? Under her fingers, the smoothness was magnetic. Some force from inside would pull her into a chord. It was those notes, and the pauses in between them, and how they fell into each other, that told her what rhythms she would play that night, and where she would go.

This particular Tuesday, the notes came in pairs, and her hands kneaded the keyboard like conjoined twins. They broke apart, then found each other again and again, all the time rising upwards in search of something beyond her fingers and the dark music room.

The keys gleamed grey-white with moonlight, like pebbles beneath the surface of a lake. She wanted to gather them all up, and so she did, grabbing chords by the handful, hungrily, con spirito, climbing them like rope ladders to the sky.

When her wrists could take no more, she fell gently back down through the moonclouds, taking them with her as she drifted, ralentando, through the cool night air.

Above her all she saw were stars; staccato stars: so close and clear. On her way down, she came across every constellation she knew: F# major, Orion’s belt, the arpeggio of Casseiopeia, a diminished seventh, mezzo forte…

She would begin alone and adventure for hours with the melodies she found, without even knowing their names. Hours later, she’d finish exhausted, exhilarated, aching through her shoulders, looking as if she had tumbled from a forest. And if she were to tell a soul where she had been? Well, they would never understand.

Pianissimo