A Piano's Prayer

A Piano's Prayer

A Story by Abigail Penn

Sometimes it seems the only choice...lyrics from "Land of our Dreams".This was written for a school assignment, and it got good feedback so here you go.


I know it is too many, but no one else does. I don’t like the sticky feeling against my skin, but I can handle it. “Did you hear on the news, Megan? They’re banning books now. They’re saying paper is too harmful for the environment, that trees are too rare to be converted now. Oh well, it was bound to happen sometime. Get it? Bound? Like a book?”

“Yes, Trish, very funny.” I mutter, trying to ignore the shiver racing up my arms. Goosebumps destroy the safety of my blankets, and I burrow deeper.

“Do you need another blanket, Meg?” Trish stands and starts to the closet before I can reply, so I merely tug my hat lower. The doctors hadn’t lied when they said it would be cold, but I know not even the blankets can take away the chill.

“Local libraries are supposed to check the dates, you know.” Trish drapes the throw blanket over top of the already suffocating mound. I furrow my brow.

“Dates?” I echo.

“Of publication. On the books? In effect next month they can’t print anymore. We have to get ours stamped.” I am hot now, but don’t have the energy to wiggle out from under my covers. “Are you okay, Meg? You’re looking paler than usual…”

“I’m fine.” My eyes sting with unreleased tears. Why? I feel better than I have in almost a year.

“Are you sure?” Trish pushes long, black hair out of her face and moved to sit beside me on the couch. Too close, she reminds me of the brown locks I used to have. “I figured you’d jump at this news story.”

“The one about the books? Sounds very Fahrenheit 451 to me.” I feel the slur in my words, but Trish doesn’t comment if she noticed.

“Have you played lately?” Trish motions to the piano across and to the left from where we sit. “Maybe we should go buy some more books before the ban goes in effect. I know you don’t like playing off of a screen and five years is a long time not to have any new music…”

“I haven’t.” I interrupt her rambling.

“Haven’t what?”

“Played.” How can I say I can’t even look at the instrument anymore? How can I express to someone who never mastered the ivories that the piano reminds me of a time gone by, of a happiness I haven’t felt in months? How do I explain to someone that my hands shake when I play now, that the drugs destroyed any hope of performing again? Another two months they promised me, another two months to live, but this isn’t living. A life without music isn’t any kind of life at all. How do I explain that my inability to play anything more complex than Chopsticks is eating me inside? How do I tell my left-brained sister that the doctors killed me the second they tried to make me live? I don’t have an answer, so I don’t try. “No point getting new music anyway.” I mutter under my breath. I can feel it starting to kick in, and a new shiver marathons down my spine. This one doesn’t feel natural, it feels wrong and stolen, as if the new medication is snatching away all control I have left.

“Could you play for me?” The request is unexpected, but it may as well be her last. Trish has been so good to me, how can I deny her?

“Help me.” The sister I used to support obliges, hooking my arm over her shorter shoulder as she assists me to the bench. The change from the soft couch to the hard piano bench is uncomfortable, and I am sure the pain would be unbearable under normal circumstances. There is a book open, but it is not one of mine. It is one Mother bought us when we were younger, when two junior high girls competed in silly competitions, when the eldest by naught more than a minute would play and the other would sing. This is not the last song I played.

“Please.” She sensed my hesitation. My hands are shaking as I place them delicately over the pristine white keys, noting the key of Bb almost without thinking. Trish thinks I do not notice when she raises her phone, and I start the first chord. After four measures, her neglected voice joins it. It is not a long song, and it is full of errors of forgetful humans, but the fingers remember. They miss the keys when they tremor, but they remember the white and black wood well.

The last glissando, and the air is frozen. The phone moves down, and I am crying. I can’t feel my fingers. “I only ever want to sing with you.” Trish whispers, running her short fingers over the title. “This is our song.”

“Trish…” My throat clenches, I can’t talk. She notices.

“Meg? Meg!” The cold fades away, and the lights blur and merge around my sister’s panicked face. Her screaming fades away, and instead I hear the echoes of her voice from years ago, and the magic of my fingers on the keys. I inhale as I slump against the bench, before letting out the air in a silent accompaniment to the music of my passing.

May each breath be a promise to help you believe. We’re off the the land of our dreams.

© 2018 Abigail Penn

Author's Note

Abigail Penn
Suicides not okay. Seriously talk to someone if you feel that way. This is fiction, not an encouragement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmlCBh_NFdc for the song I use

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Added on February 28, 2018
Last Updated on March 3, 2018
Tags: Suicide, Cancer, Sad, Angst, Piano, Sisters


Abigail Penn
Abigail Penn

I'm a young writer desiring to grow. Most of my stuff is pretty dark, but I write primarily short-stories, and hope one day to finish a proper novel. If you're looking for a fluff-piece, don't even tr.. more..

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A Story by Abigail Penn