My 88 Keys

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Prolog (v.1) - Prologue

Submitted: January 04, 2018

Reads: 125

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 04, 2018




  Age Four

White, white, black, white, black, white, white.

I was just tall enough to catch a glimpse of the seemingly endless row of piano keys stretched out before me, and even though my mom had told me not to touch the expensive grand piano decorating the foyer of our new house, something inside me couldn't resist.

I used my entire body to hoist myself up onto the bench, perching on my knees so that I could reach the instrument more comfortably. It looked so shiny, so perfect, and before I even placed my short fingers on the piano, I could hear the music I wanted to make.

Closing my eyes, a giggle bubbled up inside of me as I mimicked the patterns I saw in my mind with my hands. The melody was one I had heard earlier that day, a piece by Chopin that my mom loved to listen to. The key signature was a difficult D flat major, but my fingers instinctively and flawless reproduced the one minute waltz that took even experienced pianists weeks to learn.

As my fingers danced along with the music I was creating, I laughed and laughed, feeling happier than I could ever remember being. It was like I was no longer even in the giant room which marked the entrance to the unfamiliar mansion which was now home. I was floating, alone in a world where there was only music, music which came from somewhere inside of me.

As the piece came to an end, my musical bubble was popped by the sound of clapping coming from behind me.

I twisted around quickly, almost losing my balance, still feeling slightly zoned out and electrified by the music which still seemed to be coursing through me.

My mom and dad stood there, tears in my mother's eyes and a proud smile on my dad's face. Putting his arm around my mom, he kissed her cheek. "She's just like you."

And that was when my life began.

Age Six

Black, white, black, white, black, white, white.

I was now tall enough to comfortably look down at the keys which had become much more familiar since I first touched them two years ago.

I had spent the past six hours with various music professors, each experts in different areas of the piano. I was exhausted, but there was no place more relaxing to me than the bench propped in front of the same massive Steinway where I had discovered my gift.

"Honey, why don't you take a break for a minute?" my mom's voice rang out from somewhere behind me, startling me. "There's something your daddy and I want to talk to you about."

"But mommy, I'm working on the Beethoven," I said, pouting at the thought of interrupting my practice time just as I was finally getting the tricky arpeggios which were scattered throughout my latest piece.

"I know, sweetie, but it's important," my dad said, ruffling my hair. "Come on."

With a sigh, I slid off my bench and followed him to the informal living room.

Taking a seat on the couch next to my parents, I looked at them expectantly.

"Isabella, darling," my mom began. "You got into Juilliard."

"Juilliard?" I asked, half of my mind still going over the arpeggios I needed to practice.

"The school, remember?" My dad chimed in. "You had that audition a few weeks back?"

"You mean the place with all the pianos?" I exclaimed.

My parents exchanged a look of amusement. "Yes, honey, that place," my dad continued. "They want you to come study there."

"Cool!" I beamed, my young mind not realizing what this meant. "When do I start?"

"Honey, first we need to talk about what this will mean," my mom interjected. "If you decide you want to go there, you're going to be studying music all the time. I just don't want it to be too much for you."

"It won't, mommy," I protested, not understanding how anything to do with the piano could be a bad thing. "Piano lessons on Saturdays and Sundays isn't enough! Kindergarten is boring, and no one there hears the music like you and I do."

"See, Lila?" My dad spoke. "She's meant to be there. This will be good for her."

A smile broke out on my mom's face. "Okay, then. But if you ever change your mind, Isabella, you can tell us. We won't be mad."

"I won't change my mind," I said confidently. "Can I go practice now?'

Age 10

Black, white, black, white, white, black, white.

My fingers flew across the keys, Liszt's La Campanella emerging from my soul and using my hands to do so. My music bubble remained unchanged, but the piano was different. My family had moved from the Hamptons into the city so I could attend Juilliard, though we still had our house and went back on weekends.

I was in one of the many lesson rooms at my school, one of my favorite professors analyzing my every movement in preparation for my upcoming performance, yet I felt as if I were the only person in the world.

As I reached the end of the complex piece, I lifted my hands from the keys with a flourish. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest and I was out of breath, but I had never felt more alive.

Professor Elon knew me pretty well at this point and let me fall out of my zone naturally, giving me a few minutes to compose myself before I turned to look at him.

"Isabella," he started. "You are the most talented musician I've seen in all my years of teaching. If you continue on this path, your name will be remembered years from now as the greatest classical pianist of this time." He paused for a moment, his kind eyes boring into mine, and even though I was only ten, I understood the importance of what he was telling me. "Do not let the fame ruin you. You have a gift, but you also have passion. People will try and take that away from you. Do not let them."

"I won't," I promised him. "I don't know where it comes from, and I don't know how it got there, but it's my life."

He smiled at me. "As it should be."

Age 12

Black, white, black, white, white, black, white.

My fingers crashed down on the keys, furiously racing through Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor. Anger drove my ever movement, and my normally peaceful music bubble was disturbed by the dark cloud of despair which drove my performance today.

As I reached the soft ending, a single tear rolled down my face and hit one of the keys, glistening under the bright stage lights.

Applause roared through Carnegie Hall, prompting me to automatically stand and bow. Like usual, I had gotten a standing ovation, and if it were any other day, I would have gladly sat back down and played another piece.

But it wasn't any other day. It was today.

The day my mother had died.

Age 15

Black, white, black, white, white, black, white.

Pachelbel's Canon in D flowed from my fingers, echoing through the empty room. Tragedy had not dimmed the effect music usually had on me, and it was nice to play one final piece on the piano I had started with all those years ago. My bubble still existed, but sadly, so did reality.

"Isabella!" My father's sharp voice rang out, bringing my playing to an abrupt halt. "Now is not the time for that. Your flight leaves in two hours, and there will be traffic getting to the airport. The car is waiting."

I twisted on the bench to face him, barely recognizing the cold man he had become since my mother's death. "You aren't coming to see me off?" I tried to keep the disappointment off my face.

"You know I have a meeting. Besides, Charles will be with you."

I scoffed. "Thanks, Dad. Our driver will be a huge comfort to me as I board the plane that's taking me to a foreign country where I have to live by myself."

Surprisingly enough, he looked up from his iPhone to glare at me. "Don't take that tone with me, young lady. I've spent a lot of money to send you to the top music school in New York, and now I'm spending even more to send you to the top conservatory in Italy."

Opening my mouth to retort that I had earned him quite a lot of money over the years as well, he cut me off before I could get a word out. "And don't be dramatic. You're going to be living on campus, not by yourself. You're 15, for God's sake. Now give me a kiss and get in the car."

Willing the tears which had gathered in my eyes to hold on until I was out of his sight, I closed the lid to my beloved piano and pushed the bench in for the last time.

Grabbing my purse off the floor, I obeyed him like I always did and kissed him on the cheek, trying not to let it hurt that he had already gone back to his iPhone.

"Goodbye, Dad," I whispered.

© Copyright 2020 Sofia Burnett. All rights reserved.


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