Derek walked into the Music Room. That’s what it had always been, what it always would be. When he’d first rebuilt the house this room had looked so barren and empty, more so than any other room in the house. This room had always been cluttered, filled with his Dad’s guitars, Laura’s violin, his Mom’s cello, the random collection of instruments and sheet music they’d picked up over the years. Pride of place though, in the centre of the room had been the old family white baby grand piano. Derek had never known how long it had been in the family, had never asked, but he remembered an old black and white photograph with the Hale clan of seventy years ago all sat round it. That photo was gone now, burned to nothing more than ash on the wind along with the sheet music, the guitars, the piano and all the memories they could have played for him.
One night he’d been going through Craig’s List looking for more furniture. As the pack kept reminding him he was perfectly able to afford buying everything new but the whole point of rebuilding had been to restore his old family home. Everything in this house before the fire had been built up by a dozen generations, adding piece by piece to each room. Every nick in the chairs and dents in the tables were part of their history. Now he had to start over and if he couldn’t put back his own memories then he’d borrow someone else’s, some other family’s story. He’d been looking for the dining table. He wasn’t planning on hosting dinner parties anytime soon but his family had always sat up at the table for dinner. Every night, without fail. It wouldn’t be home without a big dining table even if there wasn’t anyone left to sit at it but him.
It came up as an advert at the side of the screen. It was perfect. A second hand white baby grand piano, beaten up and dented just like the last of the Hales. He’d bought it on the spot.
Derek sat down at the keyboard and played a couple of notes. He remembered his mother trying to make him to practice when all he wanted to do was go out running or playing with his cousins. His family had always been musical but he’d never seen the point of it. When all of his family had come into the room to play together, he’d thought it was all just useless noise. He’d never appreciated what a wondrous thing a house full of music was until he’d heard the silence of it standing empty. All he could really remember were his scales. As he went up and down the notes some of them didn’t sound or sounded muffled. A few of the strings were missing and a couple of the hammers were out of line. The ones that did play were mostly out of tune.
He played a few notes from a half remembered tune his mother used to play all the time. He’d always thought it sounded pretty when he was little, before he’d been too old to dislike anything ‘pretty’. For a second he could feel his mother’s hand on his waist as he sat on her knee and she placed her fingers beside his on the keys. He turned his head half expecting to see her familiar smile. Instead he was alone in an empty room.
Turning back he played the keys again, trying to remember what came next. He was going to fix the strings and hammers, teach himself to play and fill the silence with music again but even out of tune this memory of a tune sounded beautiful to him. There was something about that he liked, that something second hand and broken could still make a pretty sound. Of all the things in this house, Derek himself was by far the most broken. If he could coax a tune out of this old thing, make it sing the way his mother made the old one sing, then maybe he could do the same for himself.