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me reading this story in my shed!
My mother was an
upright piano, spine erect, lid tightly
closed, unplayable except by the maestro. My
father was not the maestro. My father was the
piano tuner; technically expert, he never made
her sing. It was someone else's husband who
turned her into a baby Grand.
How did I know? She told
me. During the last weeks,
when she was bent, lid slightly open, ivories
“Every Tuesday,” she said.
“Midday. A knock at the door.”
first time, I froze. A grown woman myself, I
listened to my mother talk and was back
playing with dolls and wasps' nests. I cut
my visit short. My mother didn't notice.
She'd already fallen asleep.
The second time, I
“Mother,” I said. “He....came round. On
Tuesdays. How many?”
“We are fallen stars, he said to me,”
whispered my mother, the formerly-upright
piano. “You and me, he said.
And then he would take my hand.” She closed
her eyes, smiled.
My father, the tuner, never took anyone's
hand. He was sharp, efficient. I searched my
mother's face for another hint or
instruction.“Should I find myself one?” I
wanted to ask. “A fallen star? A maestro? Am
I like you?” But she had
stopped talking and begun to snore gently. I
sat with her, watching the rise and fall of
her chest and the way her fingers fluttered
in her lap, longing for arpeggios to dance
across my stiffening keys.
© Tania Hershman 2012
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2012 Frank O'Connor International Short
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