Saturday, September 26, 2009
Deleted from Sleeping in Eden:
Lucas Hudson had been a pianist. When he was in fifth grade, his music teacher had taken one look at his unusually long, tapered fingers and declared that Lucas would either be a concert pianist or a surgeon. Mr. Princeton did all he could to mold his protégé into the former. Lucas, who at that time hadn’t come close to growing into his body, and had no idea who he was or wanted to be, warmed to the piano as if his purpose in life was to make music with his hands. It was the only thing that made sense to him for many years to come. He played soccer and won academic awards and was even elected class vice-president his senior year of high school, but he never felt at home in his own body. It was in the keys, in each note and chord and run, that he knew who he was, or wasn’t bothered by the fact that he didn’t.
In medical school Lucas bought an ancient upright, a forgotten relic that took up precious space in a tiny music store in the outskirts of Milwaukee. It was an ornate piece of furniture in its day, complete with scrolled edges and hand-painted flowers that looked like a faded Bavarian canvas. There was a neon-yellow sign on the dilapidated instrument that read: Very poor condition. Unsalvageable. And beneath that, the price: $50. By some stroke of luck, Lucas had the amount in his wallet. He steeled himself for a little bargaining and decided that he would refuse to pay taxes, fifty bucks up front and not a penny more, but the shop owner’s eyes took on a hungry look and he accepted what Lucas gave him without even bothering to count the bills.
For three years Lucas played off-key music on the piano that refused to be tuned, humming the notes for middle C, F#, and a few others that declined to offer even a hint of a note. When given the opportunity to play at the house of the head of the medical department during a formal evening of wine and cheese, Lucas sat at the ebony baby grand, shining like the polished reflection of a moonless night sky, and played a portion of Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto No. 1 in E. The performance was flawless, but Lucas left the dinner party disillusioned; he had missed the absent notes. With each and every tone present and accounted for, the mystery of the music seemed obscenely exposed. He happily went back to the nondescript upright.
When Lucas met Jenna, his hands slowly fell in love with her. The tangle of her hair, the curve in the small of her back, every inch of her face as he explored it, drinking in each angle as if his fingers were his eyes. First it was a day, then two, followed by a week and more until finally the chair that had for so long served as a piano bench became nothing more than a place to inhale a quick breakfast. It wasn’t until they had moved to Blackhawk that Lucas remembered the piano and felt his heart seize as if he had forgotten an old friend.
*Copyright - Nicole Baart, 2009*