Raindrops splattered across the squeaky window as Lily slipped into a world entirely her own. She found out that the slightly dilapidated beige sofa can provide an alarmingly pacifying dark fortress.
It was the storm in her living room which led her to this point.
Her mother was a peculiar human in the aspect of coping methods. Most would turn to alcohol, but Lily's mother turned to books.
One would think a child of such age possessed great privilege, having such a mosaic of resources on literature, words, and literacy.
Every morning, Lily's mother would slip into a world entirely her own. Some days, her face would hold the cover of a Patrick O'Brian and other sleepy days would entail a bit of nineteenth-century British novels. Whatever the cover, the woman's disposition was also affected.
"Lily, listen to this- doesn't it sound blue?" The woman hoarded phrases from each book, and soon, Lily's mother was an endless world of words. Her mother's affinity for quotes turned into a tasteful obsession. Lily was naive to the abnormalities in associating words with colors; such as ‘nebulous' with orange, and 'surreptitious' with purple. To her, language was rich in color and feeling.
One might also surmise a girl with such enlightenment would take after her progenitor. Lily did not. Though, she was above her class in reading comprehension and competency, the very thought of books sent flashes of buried grudges.
"Everyone needs a therapist. The poor girl's been through so much," they say. 'They' being the individuals at church. After service, the doors would open. Lily would do everything in her power to weave around the sea of meaty vociferous faces. She didn't need their pity. Nothing happened.
'Nothing' meaning... perhaps a little something. Her father died. This, (Lily suspected) was the cause of her mother's book addiction. It must be peculiar for the spectator witnessing the situation from above. As we've stated before: most turn to alcohol.
Years elapsed in which an occurrence she termed, "The Rebellion," began her mother’s book exodus. She was never truly present and Lily desired for her to see the world as it was now- not in a novel or in the pages of fantasy.
The piano rang throughout the room every morning and every night for about an hour. Lily often turned to classical Vivaldi, Yiruma, or a dash of Paganini piano covers. She drank music like a shriveled sponge. Of course, her hobbies would be as far away from books as possible since she believed them to be an obligatory evil.
Tunes danced across her soul like the ghost of a memory almost arising. The voice of a piano carried bursts of purples, yellows, and reds. White and black keys proved unchanging and reliable. Lily latched to the idea.
"I'm going to play her out." The mourning doves cooed in the almost-vacant neighborhood, while two girls of the same height and age were ensconced under a magnolia tree near the street, their legs crisscrossed on grass.
"Too much piano?" Haley asked, plucking a dandelion from its roots while squeezing milky sap from the stalk with her fingernails.
"No, I want to." Lily answered.
A thought crossed her mind. Each book infested mother with unique feelings. Then, Lily deduced there is no such thing as too much piano.
It was quiet in the house as Lily had no siblings and the book-trace rendered mother speechless. Tape recorder near the piano, and fingers at the keys, she began playing au fait on her version of Vivaldi's Spring Season. She kept the imagery of wedding cake and rings in her mind. She introduced the song to her hands by means of segmented versions, leading towards the final masterpiece. Her aural senses acute, listening for the best complimentary notes. Soon, her fingers had written poetry. She liked to think that her left and right hand owned different stories to perform, yet once they met on-stage, they heightened the essence of each other's tales.
Lily played verses countless times until she was out of breath. If someone told her piano was a sport, Lily would concur.
The final piece was recorded on an 'old-fashioned' tape. Heart pounding, she tiptoed upstairs to her mother's hiding place.
"...a thin place where tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.." the woman greeted Lily. She never looked up from her book.
"Listen, it's white,” the woman voiced hazily. Lily shoved the tape in her face. The mother’s hand reached out from behind the book, feeling the air before finally resting her hand on the plastic rectangle, sliding it into the player
and the music journeyed to her ears.
"Hmmm..." she said. And then all was quiet.
"I've got her." Lily declared in the convenience store on a rainy day.
"With a cake?"
"It was her wedding song. You know- the one playing while the bride walks in."
"What'd she say?"
"Why can't you just wake her up with some coffee?" Haley suggested as a golden aurora arose from behind the clouds.
Most of Lily’s playing sessions caused her to neglect her own physical well-being. So she rinsed a dusty plastic cup from the cupboard and filled it with water. M&Ms were food Lily associated with her sessions and she couldn't play without developing that deep-rooted Pavlovian response. Finally, in an attempt to be healthier, a plastic water cup was to her right, and M&Ms in a bag were to her left on the piano seat.
But first, a small kick in her belly drove her to a slight guilt. See, she believed in music the way some do religion, and thus, she did what others do when confronted with a critical moment in life.
"I'll bring her out," she began, "and I'll play for the rest of my life. If I can't, I'll give up music forever." She placed her fingers on the keys, completing the oath. And this occurred only because she was twelve and incredulously naïve in the field of religious traditions, that she didn't know that most oaths offered to a deity of higher power involved some form of great sacrifice for a desired result. This meant that her risk was greater than others, as it meant winning or losing it all.
Lily drew a deep breath, filling her nose with the memories of coffee. She began playing. An odd little tune traveling from her brain to the keys before her.
"Remember me, when we lived far away, down in the lonely lighthouse..." her mother chanted and Lily only half listening as she painted the cover of a CD containing her finished piano piece: Coffee.
"The sea air- spill in that lighthouse. The comfort we felt in that lighthouse." Her mother continued absorbing the ink on the pages, "Remember me, when I flew away with that chilling, cold sea breeze..."
Lily clicked the clear cover shut, handing it to the "Collective Works of Julie G." Once again, a wandering hand shot out from behind the cover, searching for the CD. Her mother did not look up.
"Music or an experiment?" she asked
"We'll see." Lily answered.
Her mother raised the CD to her player and inserted the disk, pressing play. Her wandering hand felt a small cup of coffee and as the music played, she sipped it slowly- quite peculiar. Her eyes looking up from the pages as though she were staring at something far away and her face, rubescent.
"Where did you learn to play that?" she said, leaning back and closing her eyes.
Haley and Lily entered a quintessential music store. Guitars lined the walls and classic vinyls were stacked on shelves. Small sleek keyboards welcomed guests as they stepped inside, synchronous to the resonance of a sharp bell.
Lily sped towards the CD section nestled near the corner in the store, while Haley flipped through the pages of violin classics.
"Lily, you're missing something." Haley noted from across the room, flippantly exasperated.
"Coffee didn't work." Lily replied in despair. "I thought I had her, but I didn’t."
Haley walked back towards her friend, new sheet music in hand, "Everyone's heart breaks a little differently and that means every cure must be unique. But there's something we all need- to feel safe. You did that for her."
"Then why is she still gone?"
"Because In order to return, she needs to remember what she lost and she needs to want it again... hold on." Haley held out a piano book in her hands. It was a neat white book with dark blue ink. Lily furrowed her brows.
"Just read it, Lily." Haley urged in the most loving way possible.
She still refused to use the book, diverging more from Haley’s instruction, cajoling her mother by use of classical music, modern music, and healing music. But nothing resolved and it seemed as though her oath to the Greater Deity would not fall in her favor.
It took a graying day for Lily to dig in her backpack and pull out the vile book. Inside revealed crisp white music sheets.
She itched to throw it away, however, something caught her eyes:
Kiss the Rain.
Lily stopped and stared out the window, inhaling to smell petrichor.
"Well, okay then." she reasoned. She pulled out the piano bench and began finding the first few notes. The rest fell into sight reading. Just as the rain trickled down the living room window, the music trickled into the home's inhabitants' ears. Rain engulfed her soul.
The piece finished with a light touch on the last note. It resounded through the cozy expanse.
"I have something for you, mom." Lily proclaimed, placing the CD in her mother's hand, which then traveled to the player.
The woman failed to look up from her book, only staring into the distant pages as the notes tapped inside her ears. Ever so slightly, her eyes began to close and Lily could see the notes dancing behind eyelids.
"It feels like... rain." she commented. And as the last tickling touch of the last raindrop echoed through the dark room, her mother looked up, smiling at the sound, and her eyes met her daughter's.
"Why, Lily," she said, her voice laced with surprise, "look how you've grown.”