Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Old Piano, or Short Shorts

My other blog, WordsbyMo, for short stories, sits quietly for months. A short story I began before Christmas sits in its file folder, incomplete since December. I do a lot of thinking about writing and reading about writing, but the actual writing--is set aside.

One of my goals is to experiment with really short short stories. Five hundred words max. I've played with it a little, but haven't followed through. Did you see the March, "Reader's Digest" magazine? My mom showed it to me while we were at their house on Mother's Day. They had a contest: write your life story in 150 words or fewer. Published in the March issue, they were amazing. The article inspired me to get going on my short short stories.

I've also wanted to experiment with writing about an inanimate object, as if it had personality. (Like my computer on the days it has a mind of its own...) This story, The Old Piano, comes in at 496 words.

My first writing class, on my very first assignment, gave me a hard lesson. Editing. A word count. I couldn't do it. My words were too important, the story too critical to edit down. I started a letter to the instructor, explaining why I couldn't do it. Deep down, though, I knew, it had to be done. I faced it, and started deleting. And, guess what? The story was better, stronger. And, guess what? I really could edit it to less than the maximum word count.

A 500 word short story involves editing. Pruning. Clarifying. Rid of the excess. Streamline. Slim, trim.

Traveling Lighter. Editing out the unnecessary. Eliminating the apparent important, that isn't important at all. When it is gone, what is left becomes even better, stronger.

Good lessons. For writing and for life.

(Usually, I would link to the other blog for the short story, but for today, this is posted in both blogs)


The old piano, alone and forgotten in the dark, cold garage. Days, months, years.  Unplayed.  Silent.  Still. Deaf, mute, the black and white keys paralyzed.  Without a voice.
The piano ached for music. To vibrate and hum and ring out melodies that blew across its strings. To feel the little fingers tapping, stacks of music books thumped on its top. To hear the chords and the notes tickling up and down its keyboard, played over and over and over. To once again know the power of its voice, of sounds rich, deep, powerful, resonating, full. To know the quiet whispers, the sweet breath of a pause, a moment hung in the air, a breath before beginning again.
It was so much fun. Each bottom that had plunked on to its bench had a unique style. It knew the feel of each one, the style of playing, the sounds drawn out by the different sets of fingers.
One girl, lightweight, never still, scooted along with her hands, up and down, back and forth, filling the afternoons with voice and song. Her foot pumped the pedals, the sound resonating through each fiber of its frame.
Another girl, sure, solid, rooted on the bench.  She leaned side to side as she reached, sounding the chords, as solid and sure as she sat.
The boys never sat as long as the girls. Their music was rowdy, full, alive, fun. One  laughed, making up tunes and chords and silly sounds, playing, exploring, his enthusiasm spilling into song.

Moved to a new house, it sat, quiet most of the days. Peaceful, part of the home, but quiet. The bustle continued around it, but not from it. Music, no more. No one sat to play, to set its strings humming.

Another move, this time, set aside in the garage. Cold, dark, alone. Silent. A quiet ache to be a tool, an instrument to be played, to have music coursing through its every part. Oh, someday?

Again, a move. Darkness, noise, motion that set its strings vibrating, but not music.  Humming  through its strings. Like a warm up? Maybe the people would play it again, soon?

Bumping, bouncing down a ramp on its wheels. Clunking with a thud at the bottom.  Lifted, hands grasping, grunts, laughter, voices, “Wait, right, another step, okay, got it.” Rolling along a carpet, pushed up against a wall.
The cover opened, light fell across the dusty keys. The old piano wanted to shake like a dog waking up. Free. Stretch. 
A new bottom on the bench. Larger, but strong. Fingers on the keys. Tentative. Parts of songs, experimenting, a piece of music, a bit of melody, here and there.
Music books, again against its stand. Partnered with hands and heart, ringing out. Oh, the relief to be playing again, resonating loud, full of song and soul.  With a voice to carry beauty and melody across the days, to fill a home with music. The old piano, heart and soul.

1 comment:

  1. That was really good. I smiled for the piano!! :)