She breathes in. Her fingers curl. Nervous, agitated, the very nature of the piece she is trying to play is how she feels right at this moment.
She starts, strong and confident. Her right hand starts to race across the keys, fingers tripping, galloping over themselves like a calf newly born who hasn’t quite found its legs yet. It is far from perfect but she has managed the balancing act of three-against-four, as if her hands were two planets dancing around meteor fields in space.
The gravity of what she has accomplished isn’t apparent at first. Her mother, proud, smiles. She knows she has done it.
Excitement renewed she turns back to the keyboard, hunched over the ivory keys with determination. She would play the pianist’s dream: Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromtu.
It was a week before Christmas when she walked into the music store, there to buy some guitar strings for her brother for Christmas. Her boyfriend’s warm hand clasped hers.
As the clerk rang in the strings, some picks, and her 20 per cent off employee teacher discount, she listened to the variety of mismatched music coming from the badly soundproofed walls of the lesson rooms.
Amidst the usual chorus of Let it Go being played badly on a variety of instruments, a familiar song rang through the store.
The Fantasie-Impromptu. She stops for a minute, and cocks her head, lost in thought.
“Lets go,” she says, pulling her boyfriend along. She says nothing but she decides then and there. She will play it.
And she did.
Every day, during her breaks at work the ebony instrument sits there lonely, waiting to be touched. She plays, her fingers flying, gliding across the keys, her left hand strong and sweeping. A downward chromatic scale grows louder until it culminates to a screaming virtuosic finish.
There are no words to describe the power she feels while shaping the melody and feeling the smooth keys respond to her touch. As she plays the last note, she sits, reveling in the culmination of her career.
She listens to the sounds in the studio, the beginners playing the songs she has grown up playing, amazed with how far she’s come.
And she hopes someone could hear her too, through too-thin walls, and be inspired anew.
That’s when she hears the familiar, agitated melody, with a different touch but with the same passion.
The song is an epidemic, she laughs to herself, while nitpicking the differences between herself and the mystery player.
Her right hand twitches. She taps the melody on her desk, over and over the same motive, the first two bars where it all started. She can’t stand it.
Unaware of time and space she sits on the hard-backless bench, the source of her stiff shoulders, her bad posture, and her aching hands. She sits tall, for now, until she begins, hunched over, as if she was sinking into the keys like quicksand.
Her right hand twitches again, but this time, producing the melody she so longed to create in response to the mystery player. Her mind blank, up in space, her fingers move on their own accord, disciplined by effort and practice. The notes, like stars in the sky, are everywhere. But she knows where each finger should land. The music becomes so loud, so intense.
She throws back her head like a concert pianist, dramatic, impressive. Her dark hair sweeps past her shoulders, no longer curtaining her face. She can imagine herself on the stage, alone, but not lonely.
For in the audience, her audience, there are hundreds of pianists there, watching her, and watching their own Fantasie unfold. The pianist’s Fantasie. That some day. someone will recognize their efforts after struggling for so many years to be perfect, to be good enough.
She won’t ask for the compliments, she doesn’t need them to carry on. The recognition she needs is inspiration.
She wants to be a breakthrough for someone, the first man on their moon. She wants to be the reason a young, driven pianist like herself won’t be beaten down by the dusty path of discouragement, and will rise above the background noise, to achieve their Fantasie.
We inspire each other. To do the impossible, to do what we thought we could never do. It takes away the excuse of I can’t, to I will.