Flash Fiction: Our Song

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
― Victor Hugo

The ending notes of “Winter Wonderland” seem to twinkle as bright as the tinsel decorating the restaurant walls. They hover in the air, a musical complement to the ornaments and hanging lights and low hum of conversation. There’s a final flourish of the keys, and then soft applause from the diners. The piano player waves a grateful hand in acknowledgement, then launches into a bit of Guaraldi, keeping up the tempo and cheerful atmosphere while waiting for another request.

As the evening is running late, it is a few minutes before the pianist is approached by a man. In contrast to the other diners, his clothes are dark, his demeanor somber. The festive decorations dull in his mournful eyes.

The pianist is a professional. He smiles. “Do you have a request, sir?”

“‘All of Me,’ please. John Legend.” The man’s voice is soft.

The pianist’s smile slips a little. “Are you sure, sir? It is Christmas. People tend to expect something more . . . cheerful.”

Something deepens in the man’s eyes, something raw and powerful, and the pianist cannot look away.

“Please.”

And the pianist obliges. He finishes Guaraldi, waits for the polite applause, and then begins to play.

There’s a slight murmur and rustling among the diners as they realize it’s not a Christmas song. They whisper and point to the man who made the request, still standing by the piano, his eyes closed.

The song is beautiful, and the piano player is good, faithfully reproducing the music while adding enough personal touch to entertain. The diners settle down, placidly resigned to this deviance.

The man moves away from the piano and slowly enters the space in the center of the room. It’s a dance floor, small and crowded on the sides by tables. The invitation is there, but until now, no one has felt the obligation to get up. The man stands in the middle, eyes still closed and face blank.

Then he begins to dance.

In between all the tables and the piano and surrounded by bright lights and colorful adornments, he dances. It’s a waltz, slow to match the music but not the kind that can be done alone.

And yet, the man dances, arms and hands in the proper positions. He sways and steps and even twirls his invisible partner. Most of the diners have stopped eating, transfixed by this display. A couple awkward laughs rise up and die quickly.

The music begins to soar, transforming mere skill into something else. Something as raw and powerful as what had been in the man’s eyes. It blankets the room, silencing all remaining conversations. The very air vibrates. And in the arms of the dancing man, a woman appears.

She is nothing more than a shimmery outline, a facsimile of a person. But she holds the man’s hands and matches each step with a smile. The man opens his eyes. The joy on his face outshines his tears.

They dance together, a perfect picture.

It is a dance of love . . . and sorrow.

Unity . . . and farewell.

The music slows. She begins to fade.

They conclude their dance with a final twirl. They hold each other in the center of the dance floor and kiss, for the last time. The woman is nothing more than a bit of light and memory.

The song is over. The spell is broken.

And there is nothing. No music, no speech.

Just the man, alone again.

 


 

I got this nifty little notebook from the bookstore. It’s full of writing prompts, which is nothing new, but what I like about it is that it also has word suggestions underneath each prompt, a extra bit of inspiration, which I always appreciate. So that’s where this week’s writing came from. =D

“Piano” by Will Powell is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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