Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer [Part 1]

Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. *Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

At the age of 5, I began banging on the magical ivory keys of my grandmother’s upright piano. Maybe even before that, but I can’t imagine how I ever would have gotten up on the bench. My favorite activity was to lift up and prop the case open so I could watch the hammer rail as I punched the keys. It was mind-boggling to me that the keys I hit were somehow connected to the pins and hammers. While not fully able to understand it’s mechanics I was still able to appreciate it’s technology.

After a few years I learned how to put those mechanics to use by combining different keys to make different sounds. I learned how to read sheet music but also had a good ear for sounds. Most often the sheet music was just my guide for about where I would put my fingers but my ears did all the work to figure out how long I should hold notes or the volume I should be generating. This was both a blessing and a curse because while I was able to play songs well out of the range of a piano player with my limited exposure just by listening to them first, I never truly learned how to play and so after a time I hit a wall.

My most fond memories were each Christmas when I would have my own concert for my family. While they were eating dinner, enjoying drinks and conversation, I entertained myself on the piano playing Christmas carols. I was the oldest child, not only in my family but in my parents circle of friends, and so for a time I had no one to play with. If it wasn’t for the piano I would likely have caused trouble for a lack of things to keep myself occupied.

I would begin to prepare for Christmas around Thanksgiving and each year would add more and more to my repertoire of Christmas classics. I grew out of the books that my grandmother had lying around and bought new ones, but the problem was if I had never heard the song then I couldn’t play it. Rather than accept defeat, I started adding my own twist to the melodies. I’m still not exactly sure how I was meant to play “Up On the Housetop.”

Inevitably, Christmas was no longer at grandma’s house. Even before she died, my mother started hosting the holidays. By then, I had my sisters to keep me occupied but I still longed to have the piano to allow me to shut off from the rest of the room in a socially acceptable manner. The piano to me was like the cigarette a person might use as an excuse to get away from a party, but now it was gone. I had to quit cold turkey.


4 thoughts on “Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer [Part 1]

  1. I like your story a lot and look forward to the next two.

    I can see why playing mainly by hearing a tune is limiting, but what an incredible gift as well. I think my brother played the organ that way.

    I’m sorry that at least that portion of your musical “career” ended when Christmas was no longer at your grandmother’s house. I wonder if it began in a new place and new way. Guess I will wait and see if your sequel goes that direction!


    • Well indeed you’ll have to follow it. My Christmas concerts ended, but I kept playing. . . ^_^


    • It would be great; however at the moment I am an expat living abroad and so I don’t have easy access to my childhood photos.


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