I love music, but seldom does she love me back.
It is a cruel mistress, taunting me, teasing me, luring me deeper into its enchanting mists, only to abandon me.
She flirts with other men, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Verdi, Wagner, and countless others. She is an unfaithful mistress who I can never abandon.
She pumps life into my veins, without her I would die. But she kills me each time she whispers genius in my ear. She gives me hints, clues, single notes alone in a void of silence. She flashes across my view like a frightened hare before a hungry fox. Even now as I play her notes, the notes she gave to another man she tempts me. My hand strays from the F key at just the right moment, the change is brilliant, it changes the entire piece from one of sadness to one of hope, I tempt her again, I stray my hand at the same moment again, but I fail. She screams away from me in my time of brilliance to leave me cold and bare before the wreck I have just created.
Once again she has destroyed me, once more I remain in love with her. She is no easy mistress to please, or even to find, but finding her is the greatest pleasure. The game of finding her as much part of her as her notes.
I try again, my hands flying over the well-worn keys. My fingers callused and sore from years of abuse fly with their own intent. Each key is struck at the precise moment, the right pressure, and the right duration. I hardly register my own actions they happen so fast. My eyes scan the sheets of notes, each a stroke of pure imagination, my fingers copying them with mechanical skill. But I do not feel her here.
She eludes me. I play the notes of Mozart exactly as they were first played. I recreate his piece in every way. But I can not experience his first moment of passion, the first time he made love to music itself and brought forth this piece.
I try another of her lovers, I play each piece, every note perfect, every note making love to my ears even as my hands seek the next. But she eludes me. I hear her voice, but it is only an echo meant for another.
My skill at forgery leads me upwards in the community. I play the notes and people clap. They cheer my lies, her hollow notes. They do not know this is not her true form. But I play, the more I play the more she whispers in my ear. She will tempt me with a single note, and it will send chills down my spine. She will let me hear entire symphonies for a second, vanishing as I try to copy them. She lets me know of her beauty.
She is like the shadow of a cloud, impossible to see but enveloping everything around. She darkens my world even as she shows me her light.
I tickle the ivories. I can not make love to them as so many have before. So I must play with them, tease them, entice her to come to me. But she does not wish me to see her, to know everything about her as I so desperately wish.
I want her, I need her, she wants me, and she teases me. She destroys me, reduces me to nothing, then shows me hope. She is the light.
I play my greatest audience ever. The room is full, a thousand eyes peer at me from behind bright stage lights. I walk to the piano, caressing it as a familiar friend. I stretch my worn hands, flexing them just so. Silence descends upon the room. The sudden absence of anything but my own heart beating is deafening. Everyone leans forwards in their seats, ready for yet more hollow copies to come flopping from my fingers.
I strike the first key; the audience lets loose their collective breath. Which shall it be? No one knows but me. I strike the second note; it resounds in my ear, another perfect note, and my finger lands on the third key. Again and again I follow the echo of ink left by her. My fingers fly across the keys, each striking faster and faster. The notes bubbling out from the piano to seep towards the audience. They begin to speak again, they know this piece already, and they hear it with skill and like it. I do not hear their words, but I feel them slipping from my grasp as I try to make love with the music. I fail again.
The piece ends and they cheer. I am destroyed once more.
I begin again, another piece from the same man, in the same cold ink as the last.
My hands fly once more, they know what they must do and they do so without hesitation. Without pause, without error they fly. I marvel at them, not for the first time. It is like watching a hive of wasps build a nest. They are chaotic, confused, angry, and very, very busy. But suddenly before your eyes they create something useful. Something unique, just like all of the other identical hives before. I create more copies, the hollow notes rattling my teeth, I realize I am clenching them again, my failure to find her is driving me mad. I am a machine. I play without heart. I play with cold calculation and precision.
The piece ends. I sit for a moment, resting my hands. Even machines must cool down. The room has grown hot. I dab a bead of sweat from my brow and prepare the next echo of beauty.
I strike the first key as someone screams.
I strike the second key as terror ripples through the audience.
The third key is struck as yet more people scream.
I pause for an instant before striking the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh keys.
Someone yells fire, I secretly smile knowing this farce can end now.
People begin rushing towards the exits as I rise away from my friend. It will be a terrible loss if she should be damaged. But it is only a piano. I tenderly close the cover. Perhaps she will survive. Before my hand can leave her, she speaks. Not the piano; the music, she screams in my ear.
She jumps in front of me and yells at me. She removes her shadow, her silence, she fills me with herself. Each note as clear as if it were written before me in dreary ink. She swims before me in her naked beauty.
Smoke begins to choke me lungs even as she grabs me and begs me to release her. My eyes well with tears as she flows in my veins. She kisses me tenderly and pulls me towards my friend. My hands work on their own, I ignore them as she dances seductively before me. I am yours she says. No more games, no more trickery, no more deceit and pain. I am here until you wish me to leave again. Take me.
I take her. The room darkens with heat and smoke. My body screams to escape, she whispers louder to stay. My fingers move from key to key with precision. Each one striking at the right moment, moving from key to key with blinding speed. My hands blister from heat as I play. From fire or passion I burn.
The crowds stop their mad rush for escape. They listen to her. She flows from me with abandon, she traps each of them. She holds them in place as she continues to flow through me. More return, they are awed into silence. Finally they know true music, they hear the whispers that have plagued me for so many years. They understand my depression at playing her other pieces so terribly, yet with such precision. For the first time they hear my heart and not my hands.
Even as the wood burns, the ivory keys melting as cables snap apart I play. The fire its own player in this symphony. The fiercer the flames the more wondrous the music.
They say thirty-two people died in that room. They say it was a terrible tragedy they died.
I know the truth; it was a tragedy they did not live to hear the last line. But I heard it, at the last she told me, and it was perfect. The only thirty-two to hear her notes, terrible that so few should know her truly. I would say it was my masterpiece, but that is a lie, it was hers, and she chose to keep it our secret. We died with that music.
There is a reason we died smiling. She held us in her loving embrace and we knew the greatest pleasure there was to behold.
She gave herself to me for a moment; I gave her myself for eternity.