This was my overall final piece for the course. It's a little depressing, I must have been in a solemn mood when I wrote it, and a bit cringey as well so I must have been in a reflective mood as well, but it got me my high mark so I don't mind!
The Magic of Music
I eased open the door to the playroom, and it creaked precariously on its hinges. I stood on the top step and squinted into the dark and dusty room. The velvet wallpaper was as horrible as it ever was, and I could still see the pictures that my brother and I had drawn on the wall under the window. I smiled as I remembered the trouble we had got into for that. As I tip-toed down the steps, my footsteps were dampened by a thick layer of dust. My old wooden toy boxes were stacked in a neat pile next to the stairs, never having been moved up to the loft. The carpet was tread-bare and the colourful pattern was barely clear. A thick brown rug covered the stain my Brother had made when testing out the paints he had gotten for his eighth birthday. He had got in trouble for that as well.
The only object that hadn’t been ruined in the room was the ancient piano that stood quietly in the far corner of the room. I ran my hands over the rich wood and blew the dust from the pictures sat on the top. I carefully lifted the lid and admired the symmetrical keys hidden beneath it. I took a long breath and played a tune that my Mum had taught me when I was a small girl. My fingers moved delicately over the ivory keys and blissful music reverberated around the bare playroom. As I played, I stared at the clouded photograph on top of the piano, and smiled sadly. My Mother smiled sweetly back at me. Her image was as still as a statue, but her eyes were so full of life. I gazed into them, and lost myself in the music.
Before she tragically died two years ago from cancer, my Mum was the cleverest person I had ever met. She was terribly outspoken and loud. When she laughed she sounded like a hyena, and when she was cross it was as if she had a loud speaker system installed within her vocal chords, but that was what I loved about her. I got all of my confidence from her, as well as my mousy blonde hair and poor eyesight. I loved it when people said that I reminded them of Carol, because I was always happy to be compared to her. Like my Mum, I always tried to be honest, and I never seemed to be best at any academic subjects at school. Instead, I shone at music. Jazz was our passion and classical piano was what we lived for. When my Brother and I became too old to make full use of the playroom, Mum brought a second hand, worn down piano and put it in the far right corner of the playroom. It was magnificent.
It was the 18th of March, and like every Saturday, my Dad and Brother were out cheering in vain for their football team. Mum and I had just been out shopping, trying to find some new curtains for the living room. When we arrived home, Mum covered my eyes with a woolly scarf that she dug out from the cupboard under the stairs, and lifted me up into her arms.
“I’ve got a surprise for you Holly.” She said to me.
“But it’s not my birthday yet.” I gasped. Mum just laughed and I could tell that she had taken me to the playroom because she stepped on the squeaky toy I always left by the door, and I could smell the salty odour from the play dough.
Mum took my blindfold off and I screamed when I saw the beautiful old piano in front of me. The wood was dark and unvarnished, the white keys had a yellow tint to them and there was a small pink flower sticker on the highest key, but it was by far the best toy in the playroom. Mum had tears in her eyes when she sat down softly on the padded stool. She took a deep breath and started to play such a beautiful melody. She closed her eyes and swayed gently to the fresh sound of her new piano.
“Music is the most powerful thing in the world.” Mum sighed wistfully, “It can provoke emotions within you, and it can clear your mind of all worry and stress. It is a salvation, an oasis, and should be enjoyed by every person in the world.” She pulled me up onto her lap and taught me the tune she had just finished playing. It was very difficult and I couldn’t play different tunes with both hands, so I ended up getting quite frustrated.
“I think I’ll let you play Mum,” I said, “I can’t do it.”
“You don’t have to be a virtuoso to enjoy music,” Mum laughed, and she tweaked my chin playfully, “Just play the first tune then and I’ll play the second.” I tried again, but I still pressed down all of the wrong keys.
“I can’t do it!” I moaned.
“Well don’t give up.” Mum said sternly, “I doubt Mozart ever gave up.”
“Well Mozart was better than I am.” I mumbled. Mum made me try over and over again and eventually I made my way successfully through the piece. After that, I couldn’t stop playing it.
I played the piano every day for hours upon hours. I remember the day that Mum and Dad told me that Mum was sick, because that was the day when we perfected our very first duet. I couldn’t quite believe it at first, Mum was never ill. She went to work every day and never put her feet up at the weekends. After they told me though, everything moved very quickly. Mum grew tired all of the time, and her hair fell out in big clumps. The worst time was when Mum was too tired to play the piano, and I would record myself playing all of the songs I could remember, and take them too her in the hospital. She said that she listened to them every night. So often in fact that her nurses started humming my tunes as they tried to make her better.
I met a really nice nurse at the hospital. She was called Julie, and she was a short and slim girl. She had only just left nursing school and my Mum was helping her with her bedside manner. She was so funny, and often said that if she wasn’t so passionate about nursing, she would become a stand up comedian and make people feel better that way. She made me laugh because she was completely tone deaf. Mum and I would hum our tunes and Julie would add her own melody without even realising it. Mum was proud of her though, because she didn’t even stop when a stroppy old lady with grey hair and wrinkly cheeks complained about her. Within a week, my Mum had the lady converted to music, and she would join in too.
“Any message can be given through music.” Mum said to her, “You can shout to the high heavens, or write down all of your thoughts until you run out of ink, but add even the shortest melody, and you can get across to anybody.”
The nurses let Mum go home for a couple of days when she was feeling a little better, and as soon as we opened the door, my Dad carried her to the piano. She sat in a wheelchair and quietly rested her hands on top of the keys. Then Dad brought in hot chocolate and he had even put marsh mallows in the cups. We sat in the playroom for hours, playing games and talking. I beat my Brother at Monopoly for the first time, and my Dad pulled all of his muscles playing Twister. We ordered a take away pizza and Dad made us ice cream sundaes with chocolate sprinkles. It was such a lovely evening that we hated taking Mum back to the hospital for her last treatments. She was always optimistic though, and she continued to pester me and my Brother about homework even when she wasn’t at home. She made me promise to carry on playing the piano, and become the best pianist in the whole of Europe, but after she died, I couldn’t bring myself to even lift the lid of the piano, and our house became deathly silent for many years.
My shaking fingers clutched onto the notes of the last chord. The music was in perfect harmony. After all this time, the piano hadn’t slipped even a fraction out of tune. I smiled and took a deep breath to stop my tears from falling onto the rich wood. The music gently floated away, and I pulled the cover back over the black and white keys. They would stay hidden, completely untouched for several more years, protecting the precious memory of my Mother, and the salvation she got from her music.