Alice loved watching him play the piano. There was no denying it. She loved how watching his fingers move in fast rat-a-tat staccatos and in graceful lilting phrases.
She had watched him practice so many pieces. Mozart. Beatles. Chopin. Disney. Beethoven.
In particular, Beethoven’s 10 variations on Salieri’s La Stessa, La Stessissima.
His fingers pranced and danced through the difficult phrases and measures. He quietly mouthed “Bah bah buh bah bah.” through some of the trickier parts, which made her smile. She remembered doing that herself when she had learned that piece.
She had learned it, but never managed to reach his level of mastery. Her fingers always bumped and tripped into each other. She never could get them to move quite fast enough.
He played it with all of the important expression and all of the joy the piece required. It was not meant to be played like a perfect wind up toy. It was meant to be played like a little girl twirling in a brand new dress. It was meant to be like a goldfinch’s uplifting song. It was meant to be all of the best parts of springtime. Flowers and new grass. Lilac leaf buds growing bigger by the day.
That was what that piece meant to her.
And she could tell that it meant the same thing to him as well.
As he played, she remembered the girl she once was. She twirled in her soft cotton housedress. She almost caught a whiff of lilac blossoms and fresh strawberries and new grass.
The front screen door opened and banged shut.
Alice stopped just as his fingers went still.
His mother entered the room and kissed his head. “Sounds like you’re getting better.”
He smiled up at her. “Do you really think so? The ending keeps tripping me up.”
Alice smiled at him. Even though she knew he could not see or hear her voice, she said, “You sound wonderful, my dear grandson. I’m so proud of you both.”
Alice’s daughter sat on the piano bench to help him through the ending.
Alice watched them for a few minutes more before quietly fading away.