Gage watched her from where he sat in front of his piano with his fingers splayed across the timeless keys. His mind was tormented. His fingers as if on their own sought and found the positioning for the first measure of Beethoven’s “Moonlit Sonata”. The music calmed even the most raging storms for him. He gazed at the perfect black and white rectangles as if searching for some truth that could be read between them. Her eyes were closed and her doll-like features twisted slightly in mental anguish made his heart bleed. Sorrow hung in the air between them choking his breathing. He desperately needed to clear his mind. He began playing the first measure of the sonata. He prayed that he would drift into the music. He prayed that he would lose himself and his troubles for a moment. He played beautifully as his hands moved like living creatures drawing and caressing the sound from the instrument. Although his hands moved as gracefully as a ballet dancer’s legs there was no beauty in what he played now. It was mechanical. He just couldn’t put his heart into it. He stopped playing and turned to face his mother. “When will it be?” She opened her blood shot eyes to give him a little smile of reassurance. “Eleven, Friday night”
“Of course, he always favored the night life best” Gage made a dry attempt at his usually witty, sarcastic humor. It failed him and he sat quiet, uncomfortable. He looked to the painting of his mother and father that hung like a shrine in front of his piano. His mother had taught him to play but it was his father who had taught him to play beautifully. He was the first and oldest child and he was unbearably spoiled even to his own standards. He smiled as he remembered one example.
Gage had been training for this recital for over three years. His playing amazed his teachers who all had called him “a child prodigy worthy of Mozart himself”. It took him some time to understand at that age that Mozart was and what a prodigy was. But, from the admiring demeanor they exhibited he knew it had to be a compliment. His hair was blonde and he had inherited his mother’s coal black eyes and pale skin. “That’s the proof that you have Taylor family blood in you, love”, she had commented whenever he complained. His fingers were like his frame: long and slender. He had pianist’s fingers. He had grown up in a household where both parents were internationally loved rock-and-roll legends. So, from an early age he had learned to show his best face for the camera. This recital would be in every local and even some distant newspapers. He knew that inevitably his patent’s reputations were at stake with his performance. The night had come and he took his place at the cherry oak, baby grand piano. He had tried so hard to shake a sudden bout of stage fright. He thought he had succeeded. The guitars and drums sounded their part. He froze! He couldn’t will his hands to move. It was a disaster! The National Enquirer had drug his parents name through the dirt. It was widely believed that he was one of those children who are pushed into stardom lacking the real talent to achieve it without their parent’s good name. His father had come to him with those newspapers hot off the presses to tell him how wonderfully he played. He had assured him that things like that happen to even the best. While the world criticized them for his mistake his father had lifted him up, unfailingly devoted. His mother interrupted his remembrances. A secret smile played on her perfect lips and in her otherwise sullen eyes. “Do you remember when your father caught you in your room with Stacy?”
Gage blushed remembering. His long-time girlfriend Stacy Whitmore had suggested upon seeing his arousal that they should…experiment… his father had accidentally walked in on them about an hour and a half into it. He had felt so dirty. He knew his parents were going to be sickened at the situation. But, later when they talked his father had been nothing but understanding if albeit concerned for the safety of them both. He had made it seem so natural and unavoidable that Gage couldn’t feel dirty a second longer. The whole thing had blown over with only his mother and father being any more the wiser of it. It had never been spoken about again until now. Gage’s mind wondered back to some other moments he had shared with his father. Unshed tears threatened to spill out of the corners of his eyes. He hastily brushed them away with the back of his hand. He forced his mind back to reality and the terrible truth that he would never see his father again.
It was all so clear but shaded a white gray by pain in his memory. The phone rang four times. His mother was too distraught to answer it. She was beside herself with grief claiming that she could feel her husband’s presence leave the small corner of her mind with his death. She knew he had died before they had even called! No one believed her, of course. They had thought she had suffered from some form of a mental or emotional breakdown…
Gage had been the one to answer the phone. He had dropped the news as gently as he knew how to the rest of his shocked family. It had been Gage who had held strong throughout it all. He knew he had no other choice. He had to be strong for his mother. He knew he owed both parents at least that much. But, as he now leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes to the feel of the cold cement at the back of his head, he started wondering just how long he could remain steadfast.