The piano

Clown legs sticking out of a piano on theatre stage

Copyright – John Nixon

The Clown emerged into the derelict theatre.

He lifted the lid on the piano keyboard and began to play; music once more filled the air, and a willowy figure of a woman glided out, her song a joy to hear.

Surprised, the Clown stopped playing; the woman instantly dove back into the piano.

He stared despondently into the wood grains of the piano; they seemed to shift and stir.  He slowly reached out with a gloved hand: instead of being unyielding, it was fluid to the touch.

The Clown leaned forward into the shifting grains, tumbled in head-first, and disappeared.

***

Full version

The Clown emerged from the shadows and into the now derelict theatre for the first time in a century, his oversized shoes slapping onto the creaking boards and sending up small clouds of dust, the motes of which danced ethereally in the early morning sunlight streaming through small dirty windows.

As he stood on the stage, memories filled the rows of empty seats with music and laughter.  Turning around, he espied an old piano.

He lifted the lid on the keyboard, sat down on the stool, began to play, and music once more filled the air.  As the hammers struck the strings, a willowy figure of a woman glided out and sang in concert, her voice a joy to hear.

Surprised, the Clown stopped playing, and the woman instantly dove back into the piano.

His heart torn by her sudden departure, he once again began to play, but she did not reappear.  In desperation, he searched among the strings, peering into the darkness, but did not find her there.

Finally he sat down on the stool again, his shoulders slumped, his body limp.  He stared despondently into the wood grains of the piano; as he did so they seemed to shift and stir, and he wondered…he slowly reached out with a gloved hand, gently pressed his fingertips against the wood.

Instead of being hard and unyielding, it was fluid to the touch.

Amazed, but utterly sure of what he must do, the Clown leaned forward into the shifting grains, tumbled in head-first, and disappeared.

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About TheImaginator

35 year old sciolist living in Tokyo. I like swing dancing, Twitter word games, writing, using Stumbleupon.com, reading, and watching movies. I write stuff on my blog occasionally.
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22 Responses to The piano

  1. I like both versions. The shorter has perhaps the virtue of being re-written more thoroughly. The language is spare and the story concentrated. The ending is more dramatic. The longer version is more gothic, but also more rounded. In the longer version, the clown is more of a mythic personification, entering the ‘derelict theatre for the first time in a century’, so his plunge into the grain of the piano is less of a surprise.

  2. Sandra says:

    Nice bit of fantasy and romance, enjoyed it.

  3. zookyworld says:

    I liked the longer version better, as it filled in the picture more. I imagine the short version as a line drawing giving readers the essential characters & action… and then the longer version adds colors & shadow. A neat, mystical story.

  4. Joe Owens says:

    Chasing a woman can lead us fellows into all manner of adventures.

  5. misskzebra says:

    Interesting story, and the longer version is worth reading just for your descriptions, which are as elegant as ever.

  6. I like them both, but prefer the longer one with the more in-depth description of his feelings.

    janet

  7. troy P. says:

    I liked the shorter, but loved the longer. But then again, like Liberace, I’m a “too much of a good thing is wonderful!” type.

  8. unspywriter says:

    Ah, the places we’ll go for love. Nice imagery. Well done.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/simon-sez/

  9. Sarah Ann says:

    Lovely story to ‘explain’ the prompt. Enjoyed the longer version for its deeper explanations and description.

  10. Very imaginative (as one might expect).

  11. I always enjoy a touch of romance, even the clown kind.

  12. Dear Imaginator,

    As the facilitator of flash fiction and challenger of 100 word stories, I probably shouldn’t say it, but…I really loved the longer version. 😉 In it you captured the clowns impressions and emotions. Loved the derelict theater and the memories of the crowds.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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