Friday, April 15, 2016

Black and White Keys

I, Kate Snow, can make a wish every time I play the piano. As I begin to play, I close my eyes and concentrate on the thing I want most in the world. My fingers move naturally across the piano keys. I know the minute it begins. A shocking power surges through me, starting in my chest and traveling down my arms, through my fingers, and into the keys. I’ve only ever used this power four times in my lifetime, and I pray to God every day that I never use it again.  
            I don’t dare look at the crowd as I make my way across the stage, but after taking a seat at the piano bench, I take a long look at it. My mother gives me double thumbs up from the second row. I take a deep breath and place my hands on the keyboard, hesitating before plunging into the music. I had practiced this song so many times my hands seem to move absentmindedly across the keys. Outside of the auditorium, the rain pours heavily. I close my eyes and concentrate on the sound of the rain beating against the roof, willing it to stop. My shoulders jerk forward, my eyes fly open, and the rain stops so abruptly that it almost seems unnatural. For a millisecond, I hesitate, but I continue playing. I take a glance at the crowd. Most people seem unphased by the sudden change in the weather, but when I look at my mother, her face is full of concern. I finish the song, stand up, bow slightly, and walk off the stage, taking long strides until I am backstage as the crowd applauds. My mother runs up to me with a small bouquet of flowers and gives me a hug. If she is still concerned, I can’t tell.
            After the concert, we went out for ice cream. My mother’s eyes were clouded with thought, and she seemed to be worried about something.
            “Is everything okay?” I ask as I throw away my cone wrapper. It takes a minute for the question to register in her brain.
            “Oh, yeah. You did a great job; I was very impressed,” she replies.
            “Thanks. It was kind of weird how the rain stopped so suddenly,” I state.
            “Yep,” she replies simply, avoiding my eyes. I can’t help but wonder if she’s hiding something from me.
            “You know I was really hoping it would stop,” I say, pushing the subject.
            “It was probably a coincidence.”
            “Are you sure?” I ask.
            “No. But we’ll talk about this later in private.”
            “Wait, what?” I exclaim. My mother looks around to make sure no one can hear us and then turns back to me and sighs.
“Alright, you’ll find out sooner or later, so you might as well hear it from me,” she starts, “Kate, you possess a great but dangerous power. It is both a blessing and a curse to you and those around you. You must learn to control it and hide it from everyone, including your friends.”
“Okay, what is it?”
“The rain stopped because you wanted it to as you were playing the piano. That’s how it works. You wish something to happen as you play the piano, and it happens.”
“Why is it so dangerous?” I say, trying to roll the explanation along.
“Because with it, you can rebuild or destroy the world. You have the power of the world at your fingertips. Do you know how scary that would be for the people around you? To know what you could do to them if you wanted to is scary. Why do you think I was so hesitant to allow you to play the piano? And once you’ve made your wish, you can’t change it,” she replies, her voice filled with urgency. I just look at her, not sure what to say. I finally think of something.
“How did I end up with this in my hands?”
My mother sighs and checks again to make sure we can’t be heard.
“Once every hundred years, the moon chooses two of the descendants of Mozart to possess the power that he had. You were two years old when it chose you.”
I take another long look at her, still trying to wrap my head around all that was just said. I suddenly feel scared and worried. My mother finally looks me in the eye.
“You must learn to control it,” she says sternly. I nod, and we leave.
When we get home, I sit on the couch, staring at the piano in our living room. I had decided to stop playing the piano all together on the ride home, but now as I stare at the keys, I long to play just one more song. I stand up and make my way to the piano.
 “Would you care to explain this?” I whip around to face my mother standing in the kitchen doorway. She is holding a small piece of paper. At the top of the paper it says report card.
“You got an “F” in math and a “D” in social studies,” she says, raising her voice slightly.
“I’m sorry,” I respond weakly.
“What happened? How did you let your grades get this bad?” she asks, still raising her voice.
“I don’t know. I’ve just been busy.”
“Well you can clear your schedule because you’re not going anywhere until all of your grades are up.”
She turns around and walks back into the kitchen. I clench my fists and sit down at the piano, staring at the sheet music. I can’t resist anymore and start to play. I release my anger by pressing hard on the keys. The music flows out of me. She just makes me so mad. I wish I didn’t have a mother to get on my case anymore. Before I realize what I’m doing, it’s too late. My shoulders jolt forward, and my eyes fly open. From the kitchen, my mother screams in pain, and I run to her. She kneels on the floor, pressing her hands to her chest. Tears roll down her face. She looks up at me with a look of complete betrayal.
“No, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to I swear.” Now I’m crying. I crouch down next to her and place my hands against her chest, but I know there’s nothing I can do. What’s done is done, and I can’t take it back. She grips my hands tight.
“It’s okay,” she says, her voice strained. Then all of the muscles in her body relax, and her head falls back. I let out a sob. My shoulders shake. I run to the piano and begin to play. I concentrate on bringing my mother back. All at once, the piano bursts into flames, and I jump back. The piano bench falls over backwards, and I hit my head on the windowsill. Everything goes black as my house goes up in flames.
I wake up to a boy standing over me, looking at me with curiosity. I sit up and instantly regret it. Pain shoots through my head, and I cry out in pain.
“So you’re one this century’s “Chosen Ones”,” he says, using his fingers as quotation marks as I ease myself back down on the pillow.
“How do you know about that?” I ask, rubbing my temples.
“Your house was on fire, and it was obvious that your piano started it. Your mother was dead on the kitchen floor, and you were knocked out under the piano. I assumed you were trying to bring her back. You can’t bring people back from the dead you know.”
“No kidding,” I say dryly.
He smiles slightly, “I’m Ian.”
“I’m Kate. Where are we?”
“My house. We have to leave as soon as you’re able to. They’re on to you.”
“Who are?”
“The government.”
“Great,” I say as I close my eyes, “just great.” I sigh and drift off to sleep.
This time, I wake up alone. I sit up cautiously and turn to get out of bed. My clothes are torn and frayed. With my hand, I feel the back of my head where the windowsill hit and wince. My arms have several minor burns on them, but my legs suffered the most. Getting up is hard, but walking is manageable. A pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and my shoes have been set on the floor next to the bed. They’re exactly my size. I peal off my dirty clothes, carful not to rub the fabric against my burns too much. The clean clothes are uncomfortable, but they’re better than the dirty ones. A loud crash comes from down stairs as I put on my shoes. Ian comes running in. His nose is bleeding, and a long gash runs down his arm.
“Thank God you’re up; we have to go, right now,” he says, panicked.
“What’s going on?” I demand.
“They’ve found us. Come on!” he grabs my arm and drags me to the window, “cover your face.”
Without question, I cover my face with my hands, and Ian smashes through the window. Cop car sirens blare in the distance as Ian takes off towards the back of the house, and I run after him. I round the corner and skid to a stop. A man has Ian up against the side of the house with a gun to his head.
“Stop right there!” he yells at me, and I put my hands in the air, “I will kill him!”
“What do you want with me?” I ask, looking him directly in the eye.
“I need both of you to come with me. Make one move out of line and I’ll shoot him. Now follow me.” He turns to leave, dragging Ian with him, and I put my hands down and follow. As I put my hands down my hands brushes against my phone, sticking out of my pocket. I have an idea, but I’m not sure it’ll work. I pull my phone out of my pocket and open up the app. I take a deep breath and decide it’s worth the risk. I close my eyes, concentrate on Ian and I getting far away from here, and begin to play the piano app on my phone. I play fast with the volume turned way down. My shoulders jerk forward, and my eyes fly open. When I open my eyes, I notice right away that I am not behind Ian’s house anymore. Ian, looking very confused, stands about ten feet in front of me. He turns around to face me and his eyes go to my phone, still on the piano app. Realization washes over his face, and he smiles.
“I did not think you had it in you,” he states as he walks over to me. I can’t help but grin.  
“I honestly didn’t think so either.”
“So where are we?” he asks.
“I was hoping you knew.”
Ian turns to find a street sign. “Darn, we’re on Hall Street. That’s only a block away from my house. We’ve got to keep moving.”
“Where are we going to go? This isn’t like in the movies where the fugitives running from the law conveniently come across an abandoned, unlocked house.”
“Relax Kate; I know a place. Let’s go.”
I sigh and follow him down the street. We come to a house at the end of the block, and Ian lifts up the welcome mat to get the key. He turns the key in the lock, and we go in.
“Whose house is this?” I ask, looking around.
“My friend Max’s. He’s out of town with his family right now,” he replies.
We sit down on the couch with a considerable distance between the two of us. We’re silent for a while until I break the silence.
“You’re the other one aren’t you?”
“What?” he asks, snapping back to reality.
“My mother told me two are chosen every century. You’re the other one aren’t you?”
Ian sighs and runs his fingers through his hair.
“Yes,” he replies, “I found out a few months ago. How’d you know?”
“Why else would you be here? Why would you help me if you weren’t the same as me?” I look him in the eye.
“Why did you decide to trust me?” he questions.
“I don’t know. Probably because I have nothing else to lose,” I respond.
“But you don’t even know me,” Ian countered.
“So tell me about yourself.”
“Okay, well, I’m 18, I’m an only child, and I’ve been living on my own for the past month.”
“What happened to your parents?” I ask.
“My dad died when I was two.”
“And your mom?” I continue.
“Same thing that happened to yours,” he replies sadly.
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.”
 He gets up and goes to the kitchen, but I don’t follow him. He returns with a bag of Cheetos. We sit in silence, eating Cheetos. Somebody pounds on the door. A man shouts in a booming voice on the other side of the door.
“FBI, open up!”
Ian swears and jumps to his feet gracefully; I struggle to stand up. He grabs my arm and drags me through the house towards the back. The FBI pounds on the door again.
“Is there a back door?” I whisper.
“They’ll be at the back door, too. We’ll have to climb out of a window.”
Ian pulls me into a different room and closes the door behind us. He runs over to the window, lifts it up, kicks out the screen, and ushers me through. We here the front door get kicked down, and Ian rushes me. Once we’re outside, Ian shuts the window, and we take off at a dead sprint towards a distant field. He’s pulling my arm as we run.
“Let go of me; I can run by myself,” I say, running out of breath. He drops my arm, and we speed up.
We run through the cornfield; Ian is careful not to lose me in the tall corn. After running for what seems like a long time, we finally slow down and come to a walk. Ian walks ahead of me but looks back every once in a while to make sure I’m not too far behind. Finally the field opens up, and we come to a barn. There are no houses around so it seems safe enough.
“How did they find us?” I ask as we lay on top of hay bails.
“It’s the FBI; they know everything. I assumed they would eventually find us, but I thought it would be a day or two.” His eyes are closed even though neither of us are tired.
“Well now what do we do? We have no food, no clean water, no clean clothes, and we can’t stay here because we’re technically trespassing. We have nowhere to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they catch up to us.”
“Will you relax Kate? I have a plan.”
“Do I get to know what this plan is?” I ask, raising my eyebrows.
“Not quite yet,” he says, grinning.
“So I’m just supposed to follow you blindly?”
“There really isn’t another option for you is there? Trust me.” His eyes are still closed. His shoulders relax, and his breaths even out; he is asleep. I close my eyes and try to sleep, too, but sleep doesn’t come for a long time. As I sleep, images flash before my eyes: my mother’s betrayed looks as she dies, my childhood home going up in flames, Ian pressed up against the wall with a gun to his head. Ian shakes me awake, and I jolt up, smacking my forehead against his. Ian swears.
“Sorry,” I say as I push myself up.
“We’re leaving,” he says, rubbing his forehead.
We walk down the side of a gravel road, not knowing where it leads. We walk in silence. I sigh and kick a rock away from me.
“Are you going to tell me where we’re going yet?” I finally ask.
“We’re going back to my house,” he replies.
“What?” I stop in my tracks, “We can’t go back there!”
“We have no choice. We have no money, no food, and no change of clothes. Besides, they won’t expect us to go back.” He keeps walking, and I hurry to catch up.
After much walking, we finally come to the town. Ian walks several steps ahead of me, and I don’t even bother to try and catch up. We cautiously walk up to the front door of his house and turn the door nob. He tells me to wait behind him and then ushers me along. We hear the closet door creek open, and we stop in our tracks. What happens next happens so fast; I don’t even see it coming. A shot cracks through the silence, and suddenly Ian’s knees buckle under him. The bullet hit square in the chest. I scream and crouch down next to him. The soldier comes out of the closet; his gun is aimed at me, but he does not appear to be ready to shoot. He cautiously creeps toward me. Anger rushes through me; I lunge at him. Clearly surprised at my sudden outburst, he stumbles back. My hands wrap around his throat, and my knees pummel his rib cage. He loses consciousness, and I get off of him. I kneel down next to Ian, and he looks up at me. I ease him down so he’s lying down.
“I’m sorry,” he chokes.
“No, it’s okay; I’ll be okay.” A tear escapes; I take ahold of his hand, and he holds on tight. Suddenly his grip loosens, and the lights go out in his eyes. I gently close them and stand up. I sit down at Ian’s grand piano and play. A few chords turn into a whole song. I close my eyes and concentrate. I know that I can’t bring Ian back from the dead, but I concentrate on fixing the mess we have made for ourselves. My shoulders jerk forward, and power surges through me. The soldier suddenly gets up, and I gasp. He looks around, confused. His eyes land on me, and I brace myself, but then he walks out of the house. I let out my breath.
I burry Ian in the back yard myself. I stay the night in the same bedroom that I woke up in the other day. I stay for months, making money off of piano concerts after I finally learn how to control my power. A few months turns into a forever, and Ian’s house becomes my permanent home. Though I have decided to stay, I will probably never fix the broken window in my room.
I, Kate Snow, can make a wish every time I play the piano. As I begin to play, I close my eyes and concentrate on the thing I want most in the world. My fingers move naturally across the piano keys. I know the minute it begins, for shocking power surges through me. It starts in my chest and traveling down my arms, through my fingers, and into the keys. I’ve only ever used this power four times in my lifetime, and I pray to God every day that I never have to use it again.  

No comments:

Post a Comment