Everything changes after Elizabeth discovers a letter inside a secondhand piano. It brings much more than music into her family life. Is the piano haunted?
Mom had wanted to play the piano and didn't get the opportunity as a child. She was the baby in her family, and her two elder brothers had both been forced to play the piano. They hated it, so by the time mom had been old enough to start to play, grandma had learned her lesson. She’d gotten rid of the piano. Both of my uncles were happy playing football instead of an instrument, and mom had taken singing lessons. I knew, as soon as we saw the old upright at the estate clearance sale, mom was going to make a bid.
"I'll offer fifty for the piano."
The auctioneer didn't bat an eyelash. "Sold, you've got a bargain. We don't deliver. Chuck will help you load it. You do have a pickup?"
This means piano lessons…lucky me.
Mom smiled. "Yes, we do. Hubby…get to it." She fished out a fifty-dollar note and handed it to the auctioneer.
"Mom, you overpaid. I'm sure he would have taken twenty."
"Maybe and maybe not. I wanted it. Fifty is a fair price, plus I didn't want to get into a bidding war."
I knew I wasn't going to win this one.
We're the only ones interested. Never mind.
I shut up. The auctioneer had heard me, looked in our direction and shouted, "It's your lucky day. The piano comes with a stool that's stuffed full of sheet music."
We hung around for another hour. Mom bought a couple of vases, and then we were done. As we drove home I asked, "Dad, where will you put the piano?"
"In the den, and I'm sure our neighbor, Jim, will help me manhandle it in. You'll have to fight over it with mom." He laughed.
That evening, the piano took pride of place in the den. Mom had polished it, and I had to admit it looked pretty neat. I opened the piano stool.
He wasn't lying. There's a lot of sheet music. I looked at one. My, my…black notes on top of black notes. It looks very complicated. Who's the composer? Rachmaninoff…never heard of him.
I sat down on the stool and started to randomly hit keys.
I like the tone. I think I will have lessons. I may be too old at thirteen to be really good, but you never know.
A tune came into my head, and my fingers seemed to know exactly where to go to bring it to life. Mom poked her head around the door. "That sounds wonderful. Keep playing. Do you want lessons? I'll pay."
"Yes, Mom. I take it all back. This is a fantastic buy."
I closed my eyes, and without consciously trying, my fingers seemed to instinctively know what to do.
How am I doing this?
My hands coordinated seamlessly.
I think I'm a natural.
My first lesson was at the piano teacher's home. The piano felt cold and unresponsive. She said I showed promise and agreed to give me lessons, as long as I practiced. I asked Mom if the teacher could come to us.
“I’ll see.” Ten minutes later, she interrupted my practicing. “You’re in luck. Mrs. Adams has agreed.”