Darkness whispered outside, and frosty stars sparkled in the windows. Bits of fake snow and glitter were scattered here and there, with crumpled-up programs lying in the pews and the last strains of "Joy to the World" echoing in my head. The Christmas concert was over, and my family was off in the reception hall snarfing down sugar cookies with everyone else. Normally I'd be with them (I have an awful sweet tooth)...but this time, something had told me to stay behind.
I glanced around the sanctuary one last time. The dim lighting combined with Christmas-sparkle gave everything a sort of dreamy, enchanted feeling. There was no one else in this magic room no one but me, and that gorgeous baby grand that stood on the stage, tilted oh-so-invitingly in my direction. Like a moth to a flame, I made my way down the aisle to have a better look at it.
An aching longing to play filled my heart. My old clavinova back home was nothing compared to this glistening instrument, the shiny-black piano I could only ever dream of having. Every curve was flawless, the keys spotless, every string tuned to perfection...oh, if only...but no. We couldn't even afford lessons anymore. I'd have to wait many, many years to get something even close to it.
I reached out a tentative hand and gently caressed the polished wood, being careful not to smudge it. Was I allowed to play this piano? Would anyone see me? I could practically hear it begging me to sit on the cushioned bench and touch its smooth, black and white keys...
"Please, come and play me," it whispered. "Come and play a song."
Just one song...
The temptation was irresistible. Cautiously seating myself in front of it, I spread my fingers over the keyboard...and listened. A melody was just at my fingertips; I could hear the music, feel it stir inside me...
I pressed down the keys, playing hesitant scales, cords, octaves, arpeggios...and finally, something clicked. The music flowed through me into the instrument, and the piano happily responded. A song I'd never heard before began to take shape; a song of quiet glory, humble praise, unquenchable joy...
It chased away all confusion and darkness, replacing them with a feeling of comfort and peace. I was being transported to another place; a place of warmth and light and beauty, that no shadow could ever touch. I closed my eyes and drank in the music, thanking God for this moment as it lifted me higher and higher into His presence. My fingers danced over the keys and the song kept flowing out, filling the room with magic; melody and harmony entwined with the joy of knowing my Creator, the composer of my life's song.
I could stay here forever.
"That's beautiful, hun."
Startled, my head whipped 'round toward...my Mom. I fumbled the chord I was playing, my fingers froze - how did she get here? What happened?...
"You need to hurry up. Everyone's waiting for you and it's way past your bedtime."
She smiled at me, but her eyes had that firm, impatient look in them; a look I was all too familiar with.
Feeling slightly dazed, I turned back to the keyboard and played the last few notes escaping out of my mind. The music lingered in the air for a moment, and faded away. My magic world vanished into the winter night sky.
I reluctantly lifted my fingers from the keys and stood to my feet. Mom smiled again and took my hand, and we walked away away from the church, away from the stage, away from the piano. We walked forward towards the door, towards the outside world, towards Anything.
But I knew I'd return, because piano magic always finds a way to bring you back.
~ The End ~