He ventured aimlessly, most probably to the pub, though he didn’t know the route. He whipped his phone out and left a brief text to his wife that he would be late that evening. He was looking for the pub. Although it was well-known for its beer, ironically the pub itself was not all that prominent. He might have a glass of beer. There is nothing better than a refreshing alcoholic beverage in frosty December night, he thought. He took a glimpse of his phone, hoping there would be a reply to his text, but everything was still. Of course, a dead person remains silent.
He turned down from a cobblestone street and tucked into a corner. When he found the pub, the small bricked structure with a yellow, sun-colored roof, which was located in a rather enclosed area of the ally, it was already nine in the evening. Such a vague timing, he mumbled. The pub reeked of old peppermint and dried lemon. The air felt stale and preserved, as if it was from another era. As he closed the door behind him, he could hear the last note of the accordion played by the buskers. The pub was decorated in a vintage mood. A rough deer’s husk hung on the wall caught his attention. He chose a seat, and looked outside the window. He could see families going out for Christmas spree, their arms laden with shopping bags. They looked undeniably happy. He turned away.
He again, glanced at his phone, an outdated one, although knowing that there was nobody he would get a text from. He scrolled through previous texts, from five to six years ago. Some evenings, when he is fully drunk, he would get sentimental and play the piano over and over again, until the day breaks. Continuing the life as a pianist: that was everything Jane asked for.
Though he hadn’t been as renowned as he was now years ago, he was still composing music rather often, and mostly it was about his wife. He detested them; sometimes he would kick the piano stool out of impulse, knowing that nothing would reverse the past. It was a punishment for himself, for the egoistic fool so absorbed of himself. Memories of Jane would fade and go whenever he faced his old traces of glory. The only reason he continued to live his world of music was because of Jane’s wish. All the glories of the past- working with numerous musicians, receiving invitations from world-renowned orchestras were smudged, shattered, broken beyond repair, they would never come back. That little dream of a summer night had been ruined by a car crash. Oh, how could he ever forget? Her lifeless arm dripping of blood, and her two twinkling eyes, once full of love, no longer alive.
He recalled the fight he had with Jane few hours before she died. He regretted he hadn’t been nicer to her in recent times, and the fact that she forgave him every single time tortured him every night. His guilt would whisper in his ears, this is all your fault. He knew nothing would change by blaming and sobbing to himself day and night, but that was his way of accepting the reality. He took a gulp from his glass of beer, and again gazed outside the windows, the yuletide sentiments coming alive in the streets. Laughter, joy, family-he closed his eyes in agony. Make it stop.
And he again recalled Christmas seasons he had spent with Jane and all the Easters, Thanksgiving, the spirit they shared together, and the picnics, where she would unpack the food they had made together early in the morning, and she would whistle unsuccessfully. Their kisses, the way she smiled bashfully when their eyes meet, the warmth shared by their skin, the crescendoing whispers they shared under their breaths each night. As he whipped out his wallet, an old, yellow photo filled his eyes. Him leaning against his gleaming grand piano, and Jane smiling together ever so brightly. Surely those times would never come back.
As he looked around the pub, he could see people-happy people, the grubby owner of the pub with stubby beard, and a piano. He wasn’t very delighted to see the piano, but the reflection of himself in the piano, gave him an urge to play a little tune, for Jane. He stood up, nervously walking towards the instrument, while stretching his stiff fingers, the very fingers that has been kept away. The owner was eyeing at him, but he didn’t seem to mind.
As his fingers swept across the dusty keys, an unfamiliar, quaint, but at the same time, reminiscent feelings arose. Overwhelmed, he took a deep breath. He placed all his fingers on the keys, waited, and gathered them as if he was praying. It was something Jane had taught him. “For good luck,” she’d smile. He first played an arpeggio as a remembrance of his old days. And he started playing, his very own impromptu composition: For Jane. And through all the notes and the melody, came along the recollection of days both of them spent together, all the happy, floating times. The snippets of his heart fell apart each time he placed his fingers on the ivory keys of the piano, and yet he continued playing his song.
After he had pressed on the very last note, the pub was silent. Some were tearing up; some were looking at him in awe. But as for him, he was completely unaware of the attention he has drawn. A sudden realisation struck him, and though he was still baffled, at least he wouldn’t be lost. Not anymore. He hastily gulped down the last mouth of his beer, picked his coat up and left the pub, and probably, in excitement of fulfilling his wife’s dreams.