“Sometimes I sit at the piano on Sundays, while the neighbors are at church, and I play hymns. The old ones like ‘Blessed Assurance,’ ‘Rock of Ages,’ and that one, what is it? The one about standing on promises, or something. But then I switch and play Barry Manilow songs. I like those ones, like ‘Even Now’ and ‘Weekend in New England.’ But I always end with the ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ I still play that one on my fingers sometimes. I have it memorized, the music, of course the words. Everyone knows the words.
I didn’t say I could play well. Or perhaps it’s not me, it’s the piano- a 90 year old Grumbach that traveled from Germany with my grandfather. It’s old, upright, black… the sound board is cracked, so it won’t hold a tune. The G below middle C is two steps off, and every time I hit it, I cringe, but I keep going, because I love to play.
I feel happy when the music comes out. But he tells me he can’t take it any more. I need to go do something else so he can think. He has studying to do, studying on things that are more important than my banging out shit on that old piano. He threatens to burn it. But mom says no, no you can’t do that. It’s an antique.
Sometimes I sit at the piano on Sundays, and listen to him speak. He’s angry, always angry at God. I don’t play, I don’t want him to know I sit and touch the chipped and yellowed ivory, and look at where the paint has rubbed off the black ones and shows a faint wood grain. Mom used to play, a long time ago. When there was still laughter in the house. Before everything went to fuck.
Is it any wonder I ran away?”