My sister and I share the piano bench but only one of us is playing.
I've been taking lessons for three months. Laura started a month ago. But already she is trilling up and down the keys, practicing the scales with joy. Her middle name is Joy. Can that be why she is so enthusiastic all the time?
I am bitter and resentful and just plain moodymad about the whole piano business. Nobody asked me. If they'd asked me I would have said NO.
Not maybe, or I don't know, or let me think about it. I would have said no and meant no and stuck with no.
I have zero interest in the piano. Zero. Which is a very low number. It is the lowest.
This is my question: why can't they just leave me alone and let me read? I have my own library card, it shouldn't be going to waste.
They were so pushy about this. Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa, and of course Miss Dickinson, my piano teacher. She is a very pushy person even though she is young and pretty and wears soft clothes and smells good (peppermint). But still, she is pushy. She tells me I should practice for half an hour every day, every single day, including Saturday and Sunday.
I am grumbly about Miss Dickinson. I heard my mother tell my grandma that I am "an ungrateful child." It's true. I am.
Laura loves the piano. She loves everything about it — the piano itself with the black and white keys, and the piano bench (it opens up but there is nothing good inside, only music books). She loves Miss Dickinson, she loves scales, she loves practicing and sometimes she practices two times on the same day. She is such a loony. I don't blame her though, she is only six years old and she doesn't know any better.
Tonight is the first night of Hanukah. Grandma and Grandpa came over and so did Uncle Marv and Aunt Lillian. And of course my cousins, Jackie and Ali. We had pot roast and corn and beets and baked potatoes for dinner. The beets were disgusting, slimy and cold, right out of the jar. But there was pineapple cheesecake (my favorite) for dessert.
Now Laura and I are sitting on the piano bench, our backs to "the company." Mom calls them that, but if they are family they can't be company. Everyone is waiting for us to begin playing. This is Miss Dickinson's bad idea. She told my mother it would be fun for us to perform, but she is wrong. This is not fun. It is agony.
Laura begins, a little song from the piano book called "Duets for Tiny Hands." It's a dumb title and it's a dumb song. But Laura plays it, bouncing on the piano bench with happiness, her fingers curled gently over the keys in "proper position," as Miss Dickinson calls it.
I sit, stiff as a dead bird. I saw a dead bird once, in the street. It was very stiff. I am even stiffer. My hands are on the keys but I am not playing.
If you think about it, they can tell you to do something but they can't actually make you do it. They can't stand over you and push your fingers down on the keys. Well, they could, probably, but then you wouldn't have curly fingers in proper position because no matter how much they might want you to do everything they tell you, they can't curl your fingers and make you play the piano for company.
I am too angry about the whole Hanukah Recital thing to enjoy my victory, but I know I'll feel better later after everyone has gone home and Mom and Dad and Laura are asleep. Then I will relive this moment over and over again inside my own private mind. And it will feel better than it does right now.