Moonlit Sonata

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Sonata’s hands danced across the keys, her soul reaching out through her fingertips. Ebony and ivory, a harmony that responded to her touch, and hers alone.

Whenever she sat down to play the piano she couldn't help remembering the first time. Caressing the keys. Tentatively pressing a few notes. And each note came out pure and strong even though she, just a girl of eight, had no idea how to actually play the giant instrument.

Her grandfather pulled her up in his lap and she would watch as his hands moved along the keyboard playing chopsticks, Mary had a little lamb and the wheels on the bus. When she showed so much interest in the music he started moving into more intricate pieces. Fur Elise. Barber of Seville. Blue Danube.

Each song played a story in her mind. The notes moved upward in sharp angles, and she saw dragons fighting across a red sky. Soft keys flowing out in a slow rhythm were like swans lazily swimming across an icy pool of water. Each key. Each score. An image and a story that laid itself out just for her.

The memories made her melancholy, longing for her grandfather, long since passed, and all the quiet moments they spent together making music.

The melancholy worked its way into the music. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. The quiet rhythms of the thousand year old piece slowly playing out across the dark night.

Her thoughts moved to the room, the darkness closing in around her. The piano still sat in the same room overlooking the river far below. On still nights you could see the moonlight glittering off the subtle waves. A fitting companion to her music. She matched her tempo to the rippling light, softer then faster, and softer again. Experimentation.

The home, built by her great grand father shortly before the civil war, was her second love. It had housed the sick and injured during the war, been home to a speakeasy during Prohibition, held wild and sometimes disastrous parties, all before she’d ever been born. The history was written into every piece of wood. Names carved into balusters. Graffiti stenciled on bathroom walls. Holes cut into certain walls, then repaired over and over again.

Her mother once told her the house was haunted. A laughable thing, surely. Sonata didn’t believe in heaven, or hell, demons or angels. Why, then, would she believe in something as insubstantial as a ghost?

She giggled at her own pun as she set into Presto Agitato, her fingers fairly flying across the keys. Over and over she pounded out the notes, faster and harder with each slide up the scale.

Like a frolicking gazelle, she played the notes, feeling the joy and wonder of her home around her, swaddled in the moonlit night. Happy and content. Locked together just as the notes of the song were locked together.

She glanced up to the left of the piano. Her grandfather use to stand there watching over her as she played, and even now she felt she could feel his presence there. Watching. Waiting.

If her grandfather watched over her then she would give him the best concert of his entire life, or death, she thought as she tripped across the ivory keys.

Piece after piece she played. Chopin. Lebrun. Bach. Tchaikovsky. Each one with their own virtues and difficulties. She had practiced for years, learning piece after piece to add to her repertoire. Learning the inscrutable differences between the frenetic work of Mozart, or the melancholy scores of Schubert . And she played them all with the utmost precision.

Precision wasn’t enough to be a great pianist. Being female had it’s own drawbacks. Men did not think highly of women who pursued places in the arts. Painters, sculptures, musicians. All of the truly greats in all areas were men. Sonata always maintained that she, as a woman, had just as much right to play professionally as any man, but it didn’t matter. You couldn’t sell tickets to a womans concert.

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