Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Miriam Part One

Miriam was walking down the beautifully paneled hall when she first heard the music. At first she thought it might have come from the garden, but no – it was too delicate, too ethereal to have come from the hammering guitars of the rock band playing for the party. There it was again! Just a few bars, fading almost as quickly as they'd been heard, but clearly from a piano or keyboard – and also dimly familiar.

Had it been merely a piano tune, she would have ignored it and continued on her way. Perhaps it was a guest who wandered away from the party, or a family member enjoying a little quiet. But the haunting familiarity caught her attention. Where did she know those notes from? They stirred yearnings within her, pleasant feelings she hadn't known for quite a while – yet at the same time aroused disturbing images of things long forgotten. What was that music?

Hesitant and torn, she stopped at the intersection of two hallways and clutched her party purse. She'd been intending to follow this hallway to the right, but the music seemed to coming from a hallway further up that went left. There it was again! Her curiosity prodded her to follow the notes up to where the hallway turned left.

Her search was rewarded. From the head of the hallway she could hear the music dimly but steadily. The long hall was lined with doors, all closed except for one double door standing ajar toward the far end. It seemed that the music was coming from there.

She walked tentatively down the hall toward the music, searching her heart as she went. Why did the music seem familiar? Perhaps she recognized the melody, which seemed somewhere between classical and slow ragtime, but what seemed most familiar was the style. In contrast to the cacophony at the party, this was gentle and alluring. The strains seemed to float along the hallway, now soft and delicate, now swelling in a lively allegretto. The tenor of the music was sad and somber, not quite a lament, but there was an underlying theme of joy and hope that kept bubbling through. Whoever was playing knew much more than how to play notes off a sheet – he knew how to bring a piece of music to life, to make it express the artist's heart and soul. She hadn't met many who could do that – in fact, the only one she could remember was –

"Miriam" is a short story by Roger Thomas, author of The Last Ugly Person: And Other Stories

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