Losing God’s Gift

letter-xy6k4p Rubbing his fingers across the keys he closed his eyes and ignored the tears and the pain in his hands. He didn’t get excited anymore by the applause or packed Halls. They didn’t exist to him, all that existed was the music, the notes, the chords. With each press of the ivory keys he knew he was coming one step closer to never playing again. At the age of twenty four he’d played for two Presidents, a King and Queen, the Pope and more diplomats and stars then he could ever keep count of.

He didn’t own a car or home and there was no girlfriend or wife waiting on him. Music was his life; the piano was his wife, son, daughter and first love. Traveling around the world five times over he let out every bit of regret and emotion he had in what was to be his last performance.

Doctors in New York, Hong Kong, England and Johannesburg all told him the same thing in one way, shape or form, “You have an early onset of tendinitis and it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever be able to play the piano again but with medication and physical therapy you can live a normal life.” Some told him three months, some told him three weeks but they were all telling him his life was over.

Since he was four people told him that God gave him a gift very few people would ever have. He never read music even though he taught himself. Everything was played by ear, he was one with it. How do you live a life where the only thing you’ve ever loved has abandoned you? How do you wake up knowing for a quarter century that all your hard work and preparation to be quite possibly the most celebrated pianist of all time was now over?

Those questions plagued him, struck fear in him but tonight all he wanted was to make love to the keys one last time. Sweating, his eyes red, his hands feeling like a thousand knives were going into them he finished the show with an original piece he’d never played before. A piece no one in the audience would be familiar with. The intensity of the performance slowed to a slower tempo that spoke to the pain that was in his heart.

Finishing the performance, opening his eyes, rubbing the keys and walking off the stage for what would probably be his last performance he finally looked up when he realized they were all standing for him. Screaming and clapping and crying for him. As he took his bow, walking back to the dressing rooms the applause only got louder. The chants of his name only got louder.

They loved him because he could give them the release they desperately needed. Sitting down, placing his hands on the table he just stared at them and thought back to all the good times. Was he defeated or just hurt he thought.
Standing up, looking in the mirror, he realized if he was to lose his gift. He wouldn’t lose it in the steal of night; he’d lose it playing in front of thousands. Walking back out on the stage with to jacket, no bowtie, he didn’t even acknowledge the audience or the pain. He just sat down and fought over the gift God was taking away.

Sing A Song For Me… B.S.

I think you’re beautiful.

I love you.

You should come to bed.

Those were the things I wanted to say; the things I should have said but that’s not what came out.

“I thought you would be sleep.” Is what came out, she was sitting on the piano stool playing with some keys, I didn’t think she knew how to play. I was sure she didn’t know how to play but neither did I. I only had it because I loved music and it looked good on the hardwood floors. I would bring someone in for dinner parties or the Holidays to play, music always calmed me.

That’s probably why we were friends. I knew she was down, she needed to get away so she’d stayed here the past couple nights. It was cool, the house didn’t seem as empty when she was here and I think we were both doing each other a favor. No one really wanted to be alone all the time and if you couldn’t be with the one you wanted…

“We had a baby shower today at work, I’m the one that picked up the cake. It’s her second baby, her husband even showed up and surprised her. I’m the only one there that isn’t married or close to it. I just don’t get it.”

I didn’t get it either, she should have been married with babies and the whole nine. She was a good woman but some chicks just had bad luck. I made it a habit not to ask her too many details about her love life; I was supportive of her, hell… I probably loved her but my support didn’t extend to knowing details. I was good with words, great with words but it was getting harder and harder finding the words to make her feel better.

No matter what I said, it wasn’t going to matter because I wasn’t the one she needed to hear the words from. She spend most of her time sitting at the piano writing songs or on the balcony playing with her phone. I was sure she was waiting on him to call so I gave her her space, waited on her to come to me.

I handed her the bowl of fruit and sat next to her on the piano, I hated seeing her like this. She deserved better than this but you can’t save someone when you don’t have the tools to save them.

You’ll be okay.

There’s someone for you.

The men you date are stupid.

How many more clichés could I rattle off before she jumped out a window? If there was one thing I knew she loved just as much as she loved the idea of being in love, it was her music. Maybe changing the subject would get her out of this funk.

“Sing a song for me?”

She smiled and looked at me with the saddest eyes I’d ever seen, she had on one of my pajama tops and I wanted to hug her, tell her everything was going to be okay? But was it going to be okay for someone like her. She was twenty eight, beautiful, educated, she wanted a man that made her heart skip a beat. A man that was on her level spiritually and all she got in return were excuses and broken hearts.

Women like her… How long does it take to get to know someone, fall in love, get married, by the time all that happens how many months, years have went by? The risk of pregnancies after thirty four or five were serious. I’m sure she thought those things because I thought about them for her.

Every time I knew she was crying, every time I knew she was disappointed, I thought about those things for her.

“The music business is breaking my heart, these men are breaking my heart and my co-workers all think I’m some sort of vixen but you want me to sing you a song?”

She stuffed some more fruit in her mouth, she was always cute when she was frustrated but I wouldn’t tell her that. Not now.

“She sent me a picture today.” When I thought about the picture I closed my eyes and tried to fight the image in my phone off my mind.

“Who sent you a picture?” She walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of wine out the fridge, I could hear her looking for a cork screw. “I’M LISTENING!”

“Someone that wants to break me, she sent me a picture of her with another man. I ignored it as best I could, well, maybe that’s not totally true. But I didn’t go off or anything. She sent the picture and at that moment I could have killed her, I could have killed anyone.”

She came back in the room with the bottle, “No glasses?”

“We’re doing it hood style tonight, it looks like we both need a drink!” She took the bottle to the head and then passed it to me. “Finish the story.”

“I went to this bar by my job, I ordered a double shot of Hennessy and I had every intention on drinking until I passed out. The glass sat in front of me for about twenty minutes and then I paid for it and left. She doesn’t deserve me, I’m not going to fuck my life up over a woman that doesn’t want me. No matter how I feel when I’m around her. That’s what I want you to understand. These guys that have you feeling this way, they don’t deserve you. I can’t promise that you’ll find this perfect man and fall in love tomorrow. But I can promise you that you’re too good of a person to be alone for much longer. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and sing me a song pretty girl.”

She took the bottle from me and kissed me on the lips. It wasn’t sensual or romantic, it was simple and friendly.

“Thank you. I don’t know if I believe you but I know you mean everything you’re saying. And I don’t know why she did what she did but you should forgive her if you really love her. Women just leave men alone when they’re through with them, they don’t do shit to antagonize them. Believe me.”

She moved her hair from her face and put the bottle on the piano.

“I haven’t sung this song in a long time, I used to listen to it with my mom when I was a kid. I think Donny Hathaway was my first crush. Go stand by the window, I sound better from a little distance.”

Always the performer, I took the bottle and went and sit on the floor by the window.

I’ve been so many places in my life and time

I’ve sung a lot of songs I’ve made some bad rhyme

I’ve acted out my love in stages

With ten thousand people watching

But we’re alone now and I’m singing this song for you

I know your image of me is what I hope to be

I’ve treated you unkindly but darlin’ can’t you see

There’s no one more important to me

Darlin’ can’t you please see through me

Cause we’re alone now and I’m singing this song for you

You taught me precious secrets of the truth witholding nothing

You came out in front and I was hiding

But now I’m so much better and if my words don’t come together

Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

I don’t think she realized how much the words she was singing reflected this moment, reflected what I really wanted her to say. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, either way her voice was beautiful and if we never became anything more. I knew that she would always be my friend and in this life, that was a damn good consolation prize. I stood up and clapped, she stood up and took a bow. The way my shirt clinged to her body, I knew we needed to get out the house.

“Get dressed, we can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. Let’s go to the grocery store, I’ll cook you dinner tonight but only if you sing me another song before bed.”

She walked over and hugged me, “That’s a deal but I get to make dessert! I’m a beast when it comes to Pillsbury Cookies and Ice Cream.”

She walked off to get dressed and watching her glide across the floor, those pretty feet leaving the room. I knew we would both be alright.