*please keep in mind that English isn't my first language*
Every single time one of the piano keys makes a sound I start shaking, which is inconvenient, since I’m the one playing. Maybe it’s the coldness that they keyboard leaves in my thin fingers, or maybe it’s the autumn air coming from an open window. Maybe it’s knowing that tomorrow this melody will stop being the secret I hold to my heart, and it will start being subject of criticism. Maybe it’s knowing that I’ve never succeeded. My eyes start closing as I finish the first melody I have to play, and the automatic lights of the studio turning on let me know that I should go home. But I don’t, I don’t go home. I look in front of me to the blurred musical notes on the score, and I throw the sheet onto the ground to put the second score on my sight. I close my eyes, and I try to take a deep breath. The cars growl as they pass in front of the open window. I shake again. Still with my eyes closed, I let my fingers rest, and I stretch them slowly. Then, without me even realizing, the music starts again. I don’t bother to look at the score, I know it by heart, in fact, I think it’s the only thing I know. I could swear that I see myself right now, as if my soul had left my body. I see me, eyes closed, fingers broken, with bandages, sweating; and then, with a quick movement, I turn around, I leave the room.
The floor cracks with my every step, and I judge myself, because I have to practise in a place that looks like it’s breaking down in front of my eyes. It is. I still hear myself playing, in the distance, a perfectly written, flawed-played piece. The smell of wood in this corridor is intoxicating, but the thought of failure is deadly. I drag myself to the only other room that has its lights on. As I walk, I think of myself. I remember the first time I walked through here. It was packed with sounds I wasn’t able to distinguish, but the chaos has always attracted me. My mother dropped me off and stared at me, knitting her brows, but I smiled back. My father had wanted me to learn to play the piano, because it was prestigious and it’s nice to tell your friends that your daughter takes piano classes every Monday afternoon. But my mother hated everything that my father breathed, so he forced her to sign me up. When my mother got the custody, she tried to sign me off, but I begged her to stay, because for me it was a relief. The piano requested perfection, just like everyone else, but it didn’t scream or yell. It just asked you gently to try again. However, talent wasn’t on my favour, and I loved music much more than music would ever love me. As I grew and the expectations grew with me, I hadthetalk with my mother. She told me that if I was going to keep playing, I had to sign up to competitions and help her maintain us both, and I agreed, because at fifteen I just thought that I played beautifully, and I believed that I could win. But I never did. Despite that, passion is strangely persistent, and with the naive intention to deceive talent, I decided to study music. Which brought me back here.
The sound of my second melody being played is starting to vanish as I approach the other room. Like if I was listening to the best-kept secret being revealed, I place my ear next to the door. It’s another piano player, and I think it’s a bit of a coincidence that we are both here. Curiosity forces me to open the door, to hear it better. In the poor lit room, a man plays. He is not much older than me, but as I listen, he sounds perfect, like he has been playing only that one melody his entire life. He sits straight, breathing slowly as he plays. His head, tilted down, makes it obvious that he is ignoring the notes and is just looking at his fingers. Fingers he looks like he controls with his sight, whispering to them in an inaudible tone what to do. I immediately notice that he is playing my third melody, the most difficult one. I walk next to him, and his other scores are my songs as well. He is in the competition. My hearts sinks when I think of myself, playing on the other room, with a shred of hope in my heart. I am going to be crushed when I lose to him. I have no excuse: he is my age; he is rehearsing in the same place as me; and he has my same instrument. I run out of the room, soul shattered, thinking about how to speak to myself and tell me that I don’t have a single chance. I will just look at myself with sadness in my eyes, and just say to go home. And I will stand still as I see me picking up my things and shutting the door. What was I going to do with the money? Pay for college, of course. I am struggling to pay rent; this would have helped me more than anything. I realize that that’s selfish to say, maybe the other man also needs the money. To me it means something more. I need to prove something to myself, I need to prove that my hard work pays off, and that talent is a myth. To me third place or second place is not enough, even though I’ve never been in any of them. First means that I’ve done this for something, that the bandages falling off my bruised fingers can fall down in peace after tomorrow, because they have done their job. That, next time, I am deserving of sleep. But I’m not going to win. I open the door to my class unable to speak. I just stand there, silent. I watch myself. I am finishing the second song. As I stroke the last key, I get back into myself. I am me again. Sweat drips through my neck, fast and ongoing. Something hot and wet falls through my fingers and onto the piano. I sigh, and my entire body gets tense as I resist the urge to start screaming. I’m sure the wounds have opened again and I am bleeding. I picture the piano, already red, and I picture myself running to the bathroom, hearing the cars, feeling the cold, to grab something to clean my blood. My feet refuse to co-operate. I don’t want to see it. I think to myself that the more I ignore it, the harder it will be to clean. I get out of the darkness slowly. The piano is not red, neither are my hands, and neither is the floor. It’s just wet. Now, I notice. Tears fall down my reddened cheeks. I get off the chair and I turn off the lights. Then, I sit, and I perceive the particular smell that tears have. Then, I cry. I cry. I just cry.
Thank you for reading!
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