Chapter Seven

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"If I knew you'd guard your heart so jealously,

Then I'd fight for you.

There's nothing in this joyless world to see,

There are no places that are left to see,

There's just the wilderness, its shame.

If I knew you'd push away so savagely,

Then I'd back off.

So, take it easy on me,

Take it easy on me,

Take it easy on me,

Take it easy on me.

They lumped us into the same boat,

Sinking on the same ship,

Gasping with the same breath,

They shout out with the same mouth.

Whatever's deep inside me,

Erupt from me entirely,

Thaw me out completely.

And I knew somehow I'd find you there

And I hoped you'd be real."

-Surfer Blood, "Slow Jabroni"

My small, pale fingers traced lightly over the keys, a tinkle of high notes sounding out from the keyboard under my touch. Sunshine sailed lazily through the cracks in the closed window blinds, tiny flickers of dust catching the beams in intervals as they floated through the air, twisting and turning. I watched them for a moment, enraptured, before running my hand over the keyboard once more-a half-hearted scale replied to my fingers' command.

I closed my eyes happily and let out a humming sigh-it had been so long since I had teased notes out of a keyboard.

He tended to kill any sort of music that might make its way into the house.

I knew exactly where my mother hid her precious keyboard and violin-tucked safely in my closet in boxes, under stacks and stacks of old clothing I had grown out of-nothing that would catch my father's interest on top of them. The violin had been a gift from my mom's father, who had died several years prior from lung cancer. I'd never known him, but my mother always told me he was kind and played violin even better than she did.

I couldn't imagine how that could be true.

The keyboard had been an additional gift from him when she was much older-preparing to go to college to study music, my mother had received the electronic instrument the day she graduated high school. Its keys were heavy and solid, like that of a piano, and it was covered with different buttons; bright colors made of soft rubber that the player pressed to make countless noises and melodies befitting of whatever mood they were in. On quiet days when he was out or asleep, I would take them out and just look at them, my eyes drinking in the graceful, elegant curves of the violin-the stark white and black of the piano keys.

I often only looked-if my father knew these items were still in the house, he'd sell them on the spot.

Today was different-I wasn't sure why. Just a feeling I had, one that pulled me to that closet to bring out my mother's most-prized possessions and stare longingly at them, glinting in the sunlight from their perch on my bed. They were just begging to be played. The violin hadn't been touched since my grandmother's death a few months earlier. My mother had tiptoed into the house after the funeral, stealing her way silently down the hall to my bedroom while clutching that beloved, black case. I could hear her pushing aside piles of clothing and rustling through the old, cardboard boxes where she hid her treasures. My feet took me down the small, claustrophobic hallway to stand in the entryway to my bedroom, where I watched my mom placing the last of the clothing on top of the boxes.

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