He was not more than a little close to five feet tall. Age had him slightly hunched in the back and the pale blue pullover he wore on gray trousers made him look warm and welcoming. He had just stepped out from the back of a black Nissan Pathfinder. He mumbled something to the driver before he got off, with the old leather file in his hands. He winced a little when his feet touched the ground and he shaded his eyes, looking up to the door of the auditorium from down the flight of stairs that led to it. He stood there as if he was contemplating them and then held on to the rail with his left hand. He looked down at his scaly knuckles and smiled slightly. Then he took the first step and his heart fluttered like he was a high school boy who had just sighted his very first crush. He took another step and the excitement heightened. There was something about that particular day that made the journey up the very stairs he had watched being built a different affair. His right hand held on tight to the leather file. A few of the sheets were sticking out and you could see in black ink the carefully staffed semibreves and crotchets and all the rests that lay in between.
When he got to the wide heavy hand-carved oak door he stood before it for a while. Placing his hand on the rings carved into the wood, he recalled the day he saw it in the showroom and knew that was going to be it. He turned the knob and stepped in – the plush carpet filling him with a strange calm. In one corner of the stage was the grand piano, complementing the pipe organ built into the wall on the opposite side. He climbed up on the stage; light flowed in from the stained glass behind it. He sat, placed the file on his lap and exposed the keys. He held both hands out, staring at his finger, wrinkled, shaking, then settled them on the keys, just how he had done the day he started piano lessons some 70 plus years ago. He hit a note and breathed in the sound the resonated from the struck string in the belly of the sleek, black piano. He closed his eyes and felt his wife sitting next to him. He opened his eyes and he was gone 40 or so years back in time. They were in the store room where the piano was being kept till the auditorium was set to receive it. He was playing one of his slower compositions and his wife was humming along. She knew all his pieces and he had always said her presence was always that magic moment he needed to make music happen. That was the night Dzidzor, their only child, was conceived – he carried her onto the piano and made love to her, measuring her rising breath and storing them in his memory, knowing he’d later compose a tune marked by the breath of the woman he loved, wrapped in passion; her dark skin blending with the dark polished wood of the instrument. It was embedded in his memories. And he did compose that tune.
He opened the file and pulled out the score to that tune. He hit the keynote, and started playing. It started slow, then the pace picked up, a soft blend of soprano and alto, with snatches of tenor to colour it. He played till his hands stopped shaking and he felt heat rise to his chest. It constricted and he parted his lips to catch breath. His fingers felt stuck to the board, and he thought he could see Yayra, his wife standing next to the pipe organ in her blue silk night dress, smiling at him. But he could also feel Dzidzor’s aura (she was probably up praying). She’d miss him, he knew. But he also knew it was time. He stilled his hands on the keys, looked up and around the auditorium. He had worked for it, poured his soul into it. He knew he was going to miss the orchestra and the choir; he was going to miss the vocal coaches, the conductor. He was going to miss being a father to them all but Yayra was still standing there waiting for him. He scanned the entire auditorium again, tears stinging his eyes. Just the day before – Easter Sunday…the room had been heavy with sounds from Worthy is the Lamb through to King of Kings. He smiled, pulled the board over the keys and placed his head gently on his hands, resting on the covered keys.
It was there they found him – his driver swore he could here music when he entered to find him in that position…cold…gone.
“The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.”