The Schubert should be easy, Yochana's mother says, sitting in the armchair in the corner watching her daughter play the piano. Yochana plays twelve bars then stops. Her fingers pause arched over the keyboard. What is the matter? Her mother asks. The last notes hang in the air like wounded birds. Yochana thinks of the boy Benedict in the classroom as she played the Schubert piece to him on Miss G's piano. Now the Schubert again. He had liked it. Came over as she played. The classroom empty. She thinks she can sense his breath on her shoulder still. Yochana what is the matter with you? Her mother says, leaning forward in the armchair. Nothing, Yochana says, just forgot a note, she lies. Well, start again, focus on the music, give Schubert the respect he deserves, her mother says. Yochana begins to play again. Her fingers know the notes so well she can play with her eyes closed and she does, closes her eyes, hears the music as if from afar, her fingers pressing the keys at the right pace and pressure, her wrists supple. The music filters the room. Her mother lies back in the chair, closes her eyes, hands together at the fingertips. Yochana imagines Benedict is behind her, his breath on her shoulder, his hands around her waist, holding her firm, but not squeezing, not abusively, gently. She remembers playing the Schubert piece and wishing that Benedict had placed his hands around her waist as she played, but he didn't he stood there, peering over her shoulder, watching her fingers playing. He had gone to the door way and peered out in case Miss G returned to the classroom. He had kissed her twice now. Unexpectedly, yet it had entered her inwardly, seeping inward as she slept and when she awoke she was damp. Not too heavy on those notes, her mother says, opening her eyes, studying her daughter's back, the narrowness of her. Yochana opens her eyes, her fingers hesitate, then play on, correcting the pressure, easing the stiffness her fingers have. Schubert is listening to you play, her mother says, he will expect the best from you. Yochana nods, but says nothing, her mind is on Benedict not Schubert, her body wants his breath on her neck, his hands on her. She continues the piece to the end and then stops, hands at her sides, eyes on the piano top. Again, her mother says, better this time, not too heavy in that middle section. Yochana stifles a sigh, moves her fingers, looks back at her mother, sitting there expectantly, and smiles, turns and begins from the beginning. Her fingers go off to play as children at their favourite game, while her mind thinks of Benedict, that way he has of smiling, that Elvis smile, other call it, his quiff of hair, hazel eyes. She knows nothing of Elvis or his music or his smile. The kiss on her cheek that day in the playground had shocked her. No boy had kissed her before anywhere, then he did. Then that other day they had both kissed. Damp, wet, warm. She can feel it now as she sits and plays, runs her tongue over her lower lip hoping she may capture an particle of him there, then her upper lip, the dampness, warming. Not so fast, her mother says, that passage is slower, you really must focus, Yochana, Schubert deserves it. Yochana stops and turns to look at her mother. I'm tired, she says, my mind cannot focus. She watches her mother's expression change from one of expectation to one of disappointment. I expect more from you than this attitude, her mother says, I have paid good money for you to be amongst the best, you will thank me in years to come, when you are among the top concert pianists. Yochana stares at her mother. Can I rest for a while? She asks. Her mother sighs. Very well, rest then, but I expect you to practice more, not less. I will, Yochana says, getting up from the piano stool, stretching her arms and legs. Off you go then, her mother says, rest on your bed, I'll call you later. Yochana leaves the music room and walks upstairs to her bedroom and closes the door. **** Schubert, she mutters, walking to her bed and laying down. She swore. God if her mother heard that she'd blow her top and well best not think what she'd do. She looks at the ceiling, resting her body, her arms at her sides, her legs together. She closes her eyes. Wants to pretend. Benedict's beside her. He is laying there. He is talking about Marilyn Monroe. He usually does. Amongst other matters. A beauty, he says. **** and cuddly. He liked her Schubert playing. He said so. If he were beside her now, what would she do? She doesn't know. Maybe they'd kiss. Yes, kiss, lips on lips stuff like last time. But is that it? One kiss? More ? And what is in a kiss? What happened to her when he kissed her last? Strange. Odd how she felt. Weakness over her body. Her pulse raced. Yes, it did, she recalls. Her pulse races now at the thought and memory. If she turns now and pretends he is there by her side and with her eyes closed will she imagine he will touch her? He touched her last time when they kissed, briefly, a mere hold of her hand and waist. She turns. Her arms embrace herself as if it were he embracing her. Her fingers practice Schubert along her spine. Her lips kiss the pillow. Cool, cottony, not warm and fleshy. She rests. Stillness. Embracing. Imagines him holding. Kissing. She runs her fingers along her ribs, a Schubert piece. He talks still. He speaks of jazz and Hot Lips Page or some such one. Her thin fingers touch her bra strap and pause. Embracing. She imagines it's Benedict she facing.
A GIRL THINKS OF A BOY NOT SCHUBERT AT PIANO PRACTICE IN 1962.