Andante

The pianist plays, his fingers caressing the ebony and ivory keys, verily worshipping them. A few tentative notes rise in the air, slowly gathering confidence. The piano weeps under his skillful hands and the guests turn to stare curiously at his rigid back. The notes catch in the air, pause, strike you full force and then subside into nothing. It is a blow you want, and very soon the guests are caught in the magic of the andante, their ears straining to absorb not just the notes, but the feel of the piece, its very soul. There is raw pain in the music, darkness, and a black humour, laced ever so gently with the promise of a light that never seems to come. The listeners’ only cue as to what will come next is the movement of the pianists’ back – he moves with the ebb and flow of the music, his thoughts guide the music and the music moves his frame. The notes begin the slow, inexorable climb, the crescendo to the climax and as his fingers move faster and faster, deft, nimble, a touch here, a hint there, the room seems to grow more silent, as if silence spreads and hungrily occupies fresh space everywhere. Tension spreads her wings and people catch their breaths as the pianist plays, obsessed now, oblivious to space and time, his back straight as a rod, the notes spinning in a dizzying spiral, climbing higher and higher and higher, kissing the peak…
… and suddenly there is deathly silence. Not one single breath. Possessions are discarded. Papers lie on the floor quietly. Stillness. The air is heavy.
Somewhere in the distance, a child drops his prattle and begins to cry and the sound is almost too bold, too rich for the full silence in the room, startling its occupants to life. Breaths are exhaled, fingers release their hold on table edges, the women slowly start fanning themselves. More children pick up the cry and begin to wail.
The pianist stares into the distance. His eyes suddenly break their hold and drop to where his fingers lie on the keys. He slowly rises, turns and bows to a room that applauds almost relievedly. Curiosity begins to simmer once again as they try to memorise his features. The pianist senses the questions to come. He bows again – a quick, stiff bow – and looking no one in the eye, he slowly hobbles out of the room.