A Childhood Memory

My feet can’t touch the ground from the piano bench and they sway in the air above the thick red carpet.  My parents talk constantly of replacing the red carpet that was here when they moved into the house; they hate the colour.  I tilt my head and ponder about the carpet, not really understanding the dilemma.  All I know is the burning red carpet makes the lava game, where I jump from one piece of furniture to another trying not to touch the ground, because it is lava, of course, very realistic.  What would happen to the lava game if the boiling hot lava carpet was gone?

My dad’s body beside me is warm and he sits without a piano book in front of him, pounding out a tune.  I watch his fingers dancing swiftly over the the black and white keys.

He turns to me smiling mischievously and says, “Ready for the finale?”

In the silence between piano songs, I hear the noise from my mom’s sewing machine.  The air smells like cinnamon from some cookies she just baked and, strangely, burnt toast.  My oldest brother sits at the table crunching loudly on something that looks like a charred piece of wood one would find in a fire pit.  Well, that explains the burnt toast smell.

My dad shows me how to play two chords on the piano.

“You’ll play these chords and I’ll play these ones,” he demonstrates, “and then together it will be a song.  Ready? Let’s go!”

The chords I’m playing weave in and out of the melody and I’m concentrating hard on keeping my beat.  My dad grabs the harmonica off the top of the piano.  He’s now playing the piano and the harmonica.  I start laughing and lose the beat of my chords entirely.

That’s when I hear the family dog come clumping up the stairs to the piano.  Her tail is wagging and she starts howling along to the harmonica.  She stops for a moment and looks at me, with the most serious look in her eyes.  Then, she throws her head back, like a full blooded wolf on a full moon, howling her heart away.  I hear my mom joining in, from her sewing machine, howling.  I can’t resist.  I throw my head back too and begin howling.  My other brother is shouting from his room about the racket.  My oldest brother begins to laugh from the breakfast table.  His laugh is deep and and his whole body shakes from it.

It’s windy and snowing outside but this house is always filled with piano jingles, laughter, and love.

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