The Story of A Miserable Pianist

I feel that I should stop writing music-related stories, but it just compels me such that I have to include it in my story each and every time. Today’s recommendation: Dvorak’s Serenade.

It is something that I have thought about for repeating millenniums. I am going to kill myself after the last drop of wax falls from the candle. You see, I am a terrible person. Let me tell you a story about a young, ambitious pianist. He was a wonderful, prodigal child to start off. He had sugar fairies living in his intertwined neurons that always whispered wonderful symphonies and etudes in his ears. He had long, ceramic-like fingers that gracefully glided across the keys of a piano. Ah, but how unfortunate. He was too full of himself, that one morning, when he woke up, he found himself stuck in endless midnights, and across him was the very pianist whom he saw in the mirror, playing his music over and over again with his dancing fingers.

Oh, yes, if you ask, the pianist is myself, the man who once created a revolution in classical music history. Who was told to have teas with Beethoven and dinners with Mozart. There cannot be two me. It would be a disgrace, a humiliation! The legend has to be the sole one rising with crescendoing cheers from the audience. The moments my heart beat to adagio cantabiles, prestos, and pianissimos would be all a waste. Hence I tried strangling that bizarre, yet very, too similar creature on the piano. You know what he did? He stood up, in a lifeless trotter, walked back to the piano and started playing again. How very peculiar, I’ve been thinking, in this endless, wild epiphany of a dreamer’s worst nightmares. And I thought, if I can’t get rid of him, why not get rid of myself?

Then again, his utterly perfect playing would interrupt my reverie. It is a shame, for someone like myself to be erased in this world, and the world will only be left with this imposter. This would repeat over and over again, and before I even realize, I am back to the beginning. Oh yes, of course, I attempted to talk this quaint stranger out. I said hello, but he didn’t look back at me. He would not answer any of my questions, and just play his music one after another. It frustrated me so much, that it only stopped temporarily after I aimed for his head with a chair. The series of odd occurrences put me into a lightless pit of thoughts: what have I done wrong?

The night is yet to be over, so let me continue my story. I am coming up with a way to kill myself. There is practically nothing in this room, a chair, some books, a window that would not open, a piano, him, and a candle. Maybe I can stack up the books on the chair and fall from it. A sudden realization hits me; what would he do if I die? What would happen to this world? I seem to have misled myself, this world cannot be over. The vast quilt of stars and moon covers the universe in a soundless sleep of butterflies. The sun never rises. If, just if, this world ends the moment I end my own life, wouldn’t it be a waste, a world without me?

Forcefully, I close my eyes, wishing that I would never wake up from this sleep. My mind twirls and rolls over to one side and over to another, and my thoughts jiggle like balls of a circus acrobat. Beyond my fading consciousness, I hear surrealistic pauses between notes. Largo, adagio. The long, pregnant pauses cause me to hold my breath, as I fall into sleep. The last thing I see is a pair of soft almond eyes, the exact same as mine, peering into my own. Then I wake up, thinking that it is a horrible dream. There is just one little difference in the room that I notice: I see myself in front of me, observing me curiously as if I were a zoo animal. I take a step back, rather disgruntled of this impolite man, and he holds up his hands as a sign of surrender.

“Why am I here?” I ask.

He smiles, and I press him for an answer.

“Well,” he starts. “Why, you ask. It is an immensely common and fundamental question that builds up our lives, isn’t it? Why, you say. It is a deeply philosophical matter that brings us to thinking about the origins of life.”

“I am not here for some damn philosophy,” I curse. Did I speak like this all the time? Why hadn’t I realized that it is very, very annoying?

“But you see, the answer is in you. You called me here,” he gives me a frown-like grin.

“What are you saying?” I say, less confidently.

“Don’t you remember? Look around, the night is not ending, and I am sitting beside you playing the piano. And if you are not too dumb to notice this, I am you.”

“If you are intending to frame me for something, that is not going to work. I have completely no idea why I am stuck in this odd place. I have met many people who are envious of me, and you must be one of them,” I explain with a feeble bravado, rambling my words fast as I can, to hide my trembling voice.

He starts to laugh. “You are a funny man. I am you, do you not see it? Look at my face. Your face, actually. I even have the pear-shaped birthmark on my ankle that you always hide with your socks.”

“It- it must be a mask or something, and about the birthmark…” I cannot continue. How on earth did he know about my birthmark? I never spilled it to my closest acquaintances, let alone the press.

“And your mother dropped you from the young acorn tree at the back of your barn when you were five.”

“Don’t try my patience,” I warn.

“Now we are talking,” he says. “Let’s discuss. I would like to know why you brought me here- or I brought you here.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I want an imposter of mine to trap me, making me go bonkers with your playing and all- your presence annoys me.”

“Ah,” he says. “It seems that you have not realized the presence of myself here. I am you, or rather, the deepest part of your consciousness that lies under all the confusion and conflict of afterthoughts. It’s the remnant that leaves the collision of words in your mind. That is what created me.”

“So, so you are saying that,” I lick my lips nervously.

“I am not real. But it depends on how you depend real, it is genuinely an immensely, and undeniably a confounding subject to talk about. People tend to believe what lies before their eyes, without giving it another thought. If you believe that I am real, then I am.”

“That is relieving,” I say to myself. I am almost out of breath. He- a piece from the fading recollections of my past days, starts to walk around the room in a circle, closing his eyes as if he were enjoying the symphony the silence conjures and the waltzes danced by dusts under the candlelight.

“Now tell me,” he says loudly, like an actor performing a soliloquy. “What kind of a person are you?”

I almost ignore him, when I wonder, maybe something brought me here, for a reason. If I settle things out with him, perhaps I won’t have to put up with unstopping fortes that keep me awake for the entire night. I open my mouth, trying hard to think of an answer. “I am a pianist, what more do you need?”

“A pianist!” He exclaims, half-bemused, he stops and hold up his forefinger. “It is wonderful, is it not? Liszt, Beethoven, Debussy, Rachmaninoff- and there’s you, the pianist with flawless fingers. But that is not what I am asking. Now I know what you think of the people around you. You said to yourself, when was it? Right, your seventeenth summer. You thought your mother was uncultured  because she could not understand the musical terms you were using. That, I say, changed your perspective towards your mother. How about the poor Alison Hugo next door? You thought she was someone not worth talking to, after she told you she scored a six in her music quiz. Don’t take it too hard, you would probably have a rough idea how people see you.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Cranky, incorrigible, haughty, immodest, rude, are the most common adjectives that define you. Well, that is for you, as a person. And marvelous, magnificent, grand, is how they define your music. Similarly, you want the music to be you. You being music. So I presume you remember Gilbert Carion?”

I freeze as soon as the two words slip from his lips. Gilbert Carion. How can I ever forget him? The vestiges of faded recollections of Gilbert Carion come blisteringly alive as it surfaces to my mind. Gilbert Carion, the two morbid words.

“So you do remember,” he continues. He nods slightly, drooping his gaze to me. “Of course, it is not very difficult to forget such a person… And what you did to him.”

“It was an accident,” I snap back at him, and he shrugs. For all the time I spent with him, I wished for the first drop of daylight to stain the rims of my jacket. Now I wish that I never wake up from this dream. From this unconsciousness.

“The human mind- it is a simple mechanism. The little act you do, even the smallest, insignificant thing remains in your memory, as if it has been rooted in the prairies of neurons, and it keeps shimmering until you accept it yourself. It comes to haunt you, monsieur pianist, it is no use anymore.”

I do not answer him. He lets me reminisce into the debris of my follies. In contrary to my words, I do remember Gilbert very well. He was one of my humiliations, misery, and jealousy. He was an inerasable stain. He gave me a realization that left me in a grieve misery- an unspoken acknowledgment of my limits. So I had to. I just had to, to remain in history, to be remembered. I drew the warmth of life out of his cold, dried lips. His breath as a creator of symphonies and concertos, was to be gone- forgotten. I had to. It was my last inkling of pride, and my dignity.

“Who are you,” I finally inhale, to the man sitting across me, his face beaming with odd satisfaction. “Why are you doing this to me?”

“Have you ever wondered, why you were stuck in this room, all along.? Why I reflect the most ideal side of you- an egoistic, proud, renowned pianist, and why I am reminding you of Mr. Carion? It is a baffling, yet the most concise logic in our world…and you are already aware of it. You just don’t want to accept it. I will be here as long as you think about that time, even as you eat, sleep, think, play the piano, I will be here. I linger even in your unconsciousness. But if you insist on knowing,” he pauses. “I am your conscience.”


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