The old man’s ballad

He leant a cautious finger into the piano – the wooden piano returned an echo.
A lonely, melancholy note from an ancient instrument, forgotten.
Once a prized treasure of a wealthy young girl.
Aged over the years; the keys, stiff. The strings, rusty.

But in the empty hall the old man started to play; his practised hands
Moving effortlessly over the full breadth of the keys
To play the melody of a bittersweet ballad.
The lyrical harmony flowed forth and produced a lush, bewitching fragrance
That rose and swirled high above the ground.

Yet the music was, at times, interrupted:
Punctuated by an un-tuned note. Or a hammer
That failed to strike a chord. Yet he did not stop, ignorant as he was to what
An onlooker would have heard; and played on the discomforting concords,
Entranced in his world, by the melody that played on
Within his heart – until…

Snap.

He’d pressed too hard on the unyielding string.
His unrelenting playing more than it could bear.
The string broke with a throbbing echo, filling the room,
And the white dust surrounding the instrument lifted,
Shrinking away to the corners of the empty space.

The song came to an abrupt ending.
The man sat, motionless,
Hearing the ending that would have been.
His vacant eyes staring at the remains of the piano
That refused to be played no more.
He sat, fingers still outstretched towards the keys
Until darkness engulfed them both.

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