THE PIANO ROOM
The day before reading week I went to a party. I dug around my closet but ended up going in the clothes I was already wearing. The Facebook e-vite had read: casual.
It was still early when I arrived and everyone was friendly in a closed-off way, even my own friends. I padded off to the washroom and tried to guess the wifi password. A girl walked in on me washing my hands. We laughed about the situation and she asked me if I would guard the door for her and I said yes but a second later I heard her say, “oh, I found the lock.”
I made no effort to start conversations and was no one’s pit-stop. I walked from room to room until it was all one room, where every door was an exit and there was no way out.
In the center was a dark spot, a drain, pulling everyone in its vicinity towards it. It was a grand piano, a YAMAHA. Expensive. I found beer and drank it, standing off to the side.
Eventually someone did go up to the piano. They played random chords until an actual pianist took over. I knew the pianist had been asked to do it, because people used to ask me.
A small crowd gathered around the pianist and I pushed my way out onto the balcony. The glass door slid open and the girl from the washroom asked if she could join me. I lay down on my back and she did too. The night sky was obstructed by the balcony above ours so we stared up at concrete. Soon the balcony was filled with people lying on their backs.
On my way to the station I thought about the girl from the party and was glad I didn’t have wifi. Social media was a gravesite for temporary friendships. It was only eleven when I reached St. George so I put my bag down on the bench, then I gathered my stuff and joined a homeless guy on the ground. He didn’t say anything, just looked at me and lay his damp face on my shoulder. I didn’t see him that next week, or the week after that, but maybe I did and just couldn’t recognize him – maybe he was everywhere.
My mother had spent summer bent over her miniature vegetable garden. She planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and beans. There was always a bowl of tomatoes on the dining room table; the rabbits ate everything else.
My parents often talked of setting traps. They made plans while crumbling bread on the deck. I watched them from the kitchen, my heart thumping in my chest.
A movement caught my eye while I was storing the lawnmower. Somehow a bunny had trapped itself beneath the cinderblocks leaning against our shed. He was so small I had to kneel to pick him up. I held my breath, I wanted to be soft for him.
I cradled him in my hands and his wild heart beat so fast; my own heart, too. I kept my hands steady until the beating slowed to a gentle insistence. I knew I would eventually have to let him go.
When I finally placed him in the grass he didn’t run. Silly rabbit. He watched me for half a minute before slowly hopping off. My hands stayed like that, cradling air.
I came home one night to a rabbit splayed on the lawn, it had a broken neck.
I asked my mother how big rabbits could get in two months and she wasn’t sure.
She brought in four large cucumbers that week.
Halloween I stayed in and gave out candy.
Some kid asked me if I was a parent. I said yes dear when will you be coming home, dinner’s ready.
She had to go and she forgot to take candy so I followed her out onto the street with my bag. She started running, silly rabbit, and everyone was mad at me and I tried to tell them about my baby boy but they said go home so I did.
My bag was gone. Somewhere on the street there’s my unwanted M&Ms and Snickers.
No one’s invited me to anything since that party. Go home they said. Someone forgot to close the windows and I am the wind and I am here, now.
I saw another rabbit. My baby’s still here because I still think of him. Everyone’s here. We’re all lying on our backs, slightly buzzed and smiling at concrete.
We are all together in the room with the piano and I am getting up to play it. There aren’t any sheets so I have to play from memory but all I can remember now are scales. My fingers are stiff and foreign to the keys but I insist. I hammer out C Major and A Major and my left hand can’t keep up with my right hand but I insist. I hit the keys so hard my nail chips and I am sorry. I am sorry I haven’t practiced since you died I’m just so angry I never got a chance to say goodbye. Then the light falls on my back and there are two shadows on the piano and music fills the room.
Lily Wang studies English in Toronto and is the founder of Half a Grapefruit Magazine. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Everyone In Your Dream Is You (Anstruther Press, 2018).