Junior 1st Prize Winning Story
“The Enchanted Piano” by Mira Hanna, International School of Monza, Italy, is the First Prize winning story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
The Enchanted Piano
There once lived a boy named Max. He was a lively boy. The kind of lively which sends a thrilling rush of warmth pulsating through your veins. However, today was different. A normally jovial child was utterly distraught. It was as if a huge hole had been punched through his stomach, with an ironclad fist.
His grandfather had just passed away that morning, and Max felt as if his life had taken a plunge into the indisputably horrid abyss, that is loss. He was closer to his grandfather than he was to his own parents. His mother, with tear-filled eyes, arranged for her father’s piano to be brought down from the attic. This was the most precious family heirloom they had left to remember him by. She had always complained that the piano did not work with the style of their house, but none of that mattered anymore. As Max took a seat on the old, crusted stool, he started to play vigorously, trying to release his intertwined emotions of anger and woe.
He was as talented at playing the piano as his grandfather. His fingers dashed and bolted through the keys, almost as if they were a part of him. His parents had left to take care of all the funeral arrangements, so he was completely alone. Suddenly, he felt a tingling sensation rush through his body. His fingers started to look really small compared to the piano keys, and at one point, he could not reach them anymore. He was shrinking. Then there was a black out. It was a triumph of bitter darkness.
When the darkness faded, he found himself surrounded by the strings and keys in the piano. They looked awfully familiar to him as, growing up, he had always liked to take a peek into what was the completely unknown world of the inside of a piano, when it was still in the attic. He realised that he was ridiculously miniscule compared to the strings and keys, so he could actually glide on them. As he slid through this masterpiece, their loud beckon matched the rhythm of his pounding heart beats. The strings moved in an almost enchanted way, dragging their spellbound bodies to provoke the most intense feeling of glee. It was music to his ears. As he hurtled through, it was as if their sound purified every doleful feeling he had ever felt, and gave a new vision to life, but there was more.
When he arrived at the end of the strings and keys, there was a little crevasse, just big enough for him to fit his entire body. Before he knew it, he was overcome by the same darkness, but a familiar smell awakened his senses. It was the fusion of mint, Old Spice perfume, and the delicious sweet smell of cinnamon. It was his grandfather. He saw a young man sitting in a wooden chair, in an old-fashioned room. The kind of room you see in old movies. The man had an innocent twinkle shining in his eyes, and the same familiar charming smile of his beloved grandfather.
The piano had taken Max back in time to when his grandpa was a young man. He was working away at something. It was no other than the wooden roses perched so beautifully on Max’s piano. His grandfather had carved them with his own two hands. Max could not take it anymore, so in a meek voice he muttered:
The young man looked at him with a slightly confused expression, and remarked:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have a grandson.”
Max could not hold back and found himself leaping into his arms, and all in one breath exclaimed:
“Grandpa, I am your future grandson! I was playing your piano, and I don’t know how I found myself inside it, and the next thing I know is I am here with you!”
His grandpa embraced him deeply yet looked somewhat sad. Max proceeded to ask him:
“What’s wrong grandpa?”
His grandfather finally managed to muster the strength to speak and said:
“I built this piano for my true love; her name was Rose. She died in a bombing raid during the war. She loved music and was an exceptional pianist. I wanted to give her this piano as a gift after asking her to marry me…but it’s too late.”
It was the Second World War. Max had gone back in time, almost eighty years! Max spent what seemed to be an eternity talking, laughing and sharing so much with his grandpa. If only he could have made time come to a standstill, but before he knew it, he was back inside the piano. He glided through the strings, and found himself back at home, once more, like nothing had ever happened.
He could not help but relive those amazingly special moments, spent with his grandpa in the past, over and over in his mind. He tried playing the piano again and again, so he could be with his grandfather for one last time. To his dismay, however, nothing happened. The same sweet and warm melodious sound came out, but it did not take him back in time. Then he took a moment to appreciate the beguiling handmade wooden roses on either side of the piano.
He ran his fingers through their delicate edges, and felt close to his grandpa, almost as if he were still there with him all those years ago. As a tear trickled down his cheek, he lay deep in his thoughts. It hit him that he would never see him again, but his mind would always keep his memory alive, like a kindling flame, which emanated pure light. The enchanted piano would always remind Max of the limpid look in his grandpa’s eyes, like a long and never-ending river, which would forever guide him in harmony.