In scientific terms only.
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Over a hand lens
I'll give this thing a shot. Avert your eyes, for your own safety.
Playing at Purpose
“R. Dorothy Wayneright!”
“Good morning, Roger.”
“‘Good morning’ indeed…”
The sun breaks through windows and streams over an old black piano, where I sit. My fingers fly over piano keys, pushing this one and that one, and the sounds of resounding strings fill the air. I turn my head to the man in black—and usually in style. Right now, he just wears a dark heavy coat, unkempt hair, and a foul disposition. The last is no doubt because of the piano, but I feign ignorance. Roger Smith’s face grows a little more irritable with each note as I continue to search for and find the right keys. It’s a typical morning-past-noon.
“Norman is already preparing breakfast,” I say, while the piano sings another meter.
“That’s great, Dorothy, but—”
He searches for the right words. I suppress the grin that wants to show itself. It’s better this way, honestly. “We’ve been over this already, right?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“The piano, Dorothy. The piano.”
My mouth stretches just slightly as I turn away. “You’re such a louse, Roger Smith.”
I strike a final key and the sonata slowly fades.
“I won’t be returning until dinner,” Roger says from behind his newspaper while sipping the last of his coffee. “I’m expecting the negotiations to take a while.”
“Of course, Master Roger,” says Norman Burg, impeccable as ever. “Shall I prepare the megadeus?”
“Big O? What would I need Big O for?”
“You have a penchant for getting into trouble, Roger. Your negotiations always end that way,” I say, a little payback for his rude habit. A black eyebrow rises above the edge of a page. “I’m unsure of how you managed to gain your reputation, Mr. Negotiator.”
Norman chuckles for a second, but a pointed glance from Roger stops him. Roger, smiling, folds up the newspaper and leaves it on the table.
“You’d never think that behind that gentle exterior is a tongue like that. I know better, though,” he says, half amused, half annoyed. “I shudder to think that the old man built you to be that way.” Almost immediately, Roger tries to pull the words back into his mouth, but it’s too late. I stare at him, no expression betrayed on my face. “I’m sorry, Dorothy. I— I shouldn’t have said that.” Roger hurriedly stands up and starts for the door. “I’ll be going now, Norman—Dorothy.”
“Oh, dear,” says Norman with a sigh and a shrug.
I return to the piano and sit down, but I don’t play anything. Instead, I think. About my father, Timothy Wayneright, about why I was built. About how I lost both things. I remember that last night at the Nightin’ Gale, that night when a song ended Father and R. Dorothy began. He had built me to replace his daughter, my origin was her fate. I had been content with that. After that night, that was gone. I feel like a piano left silent for years whose strings have long since degraded beyond being able to play music.
“Dorothy?” Norman asks with a severe look as he steps into the room.
“Hello, Norman.” I try to appear unreadable, but it won’t matter. Norman knows.
“What are you doing sitting here? Dorothy, you should enjoy yourself today,” he says, kindly and good natured. “I’ll busy myself with cleaning this dusty old place.”
“Oh, I’ll be having none of that. I will see you return by dinner, yes?” He smiles faintly. “Off you go.”
I find myself walking outside the domes, heading towards the café called Amadeus. I’m not even at the door when I hear the slow, smooth refrain wafting from the perfectly tuned piano inside. The composition isn’t so precise; the sheet music isn’t exactly followed. But I like it. I turn the knob and open the door, letting more of the sound lift outside and away before stepping inside into the café with dim lights and eased patrons. R. Instro plays his instrument with infallible fallibility.
“What a surprise to see you here, Dorothy,” he tells me, after the piece has finished, “and even more so to see you without Roger.”
I feel something like embarrassment, but I don’t let my face say it. “I’m not always with him, Instro.”
“No, of course not,” chuckles he. “Regardless, I’m happy to have you here.”
Instro invites me to play a piano duet. As always, he plays beautifully, but I don’t put myself into the music, and I know he can feel it. I came so I could find common identity with Instro; he had lost his father as well, and he had almost lost his purpose. I don’t want to communicate these things to him, but I feel a shared identity with him.
“Is there something wrong, Dorothy?”
“No, Instro.” Thoughts and thinking drip from me. They make the floor wet with regretful reminisce.
“This is your old piano, isn’t it, Instro?” I ask, trying to shift the conversation away.
He allows it. “Yes, it is. I couldn’t find another one quite like it. There are very few people left with the Memories to properly craft a piano. Those that do remember make each one with a profound sense of intent. Their origins are very deliberate and their purpose very specific. I can’t imagine a piano not meant to be played.”
I remember my own original purpose, now lost. “Like us,” I say, monotone but despondent. I expect Instro to feel the same way, having lost his own pur—.
“Not like us.” Instro stops his hands. “You and I may be built, Dorothy, and perhaps built with a purpose in mind. In that way, we are similar to this piano. But, unlike this piano, I can create without being played by someone else. We’re more than the sum of others intentions for us, bad or good.”
I turn to Instro, surprised. The emotion in his voice is something I haven’t seen since that day when he broke from his father’s legacy.
“What I was built for doesn’t matter, Dorothy. You and Roger taught me that. Have you forgotten? It is the me now and the legacy I create that determines my impact in the world.” Instro deftly plays a quick, lively tune. “And I am a pianist.”
“Instro.” His words fall on me like feathers. I’m speechless. I had forgotten. Though what I was made for may be gone now, I have something more. I have more. I have Ro—I won’t finish that sentence, I think. I struggle to keep my voice level. “I…thank you, Instro.” I mean it, terribly. He looks at me, and I catch some knowing in the pianist’s eyes.
“And you feel things that your creator may not have meant you to feel, don’t you, R. Dorothy?”
“Yes,” I say, and this time awkwardness finds its way into my voice. Instro nods.
“I have a new piece to teach you. An elderly man with a fragment of memory came in and asked to borrow my piano. He said that it had been written for a woman. But I'm sure it has long outgrown that purpose.” He flexes his metal fingers and, with a flourish, begins to play the notes of what I feel is a very old song.
I return home that evening, before dinner. Norman greets me on the way in and gives me a kind smile before returning to his preparations. I think he senses that everything is well. Stepping over to the piano, I think about what Instro has said. I sit and play the new meters on the old piano, letting the notes flow this way, that way, every way. I don’t think about the sheet music or the symphonies or the solo piano concertos that came before. What comes out, I think, is beautiful.
“Well, well, I haven’t heard this one before,” says the Negotiator. He alights with a smile.
“You’ve returned, Roger. Did you not need Big O this time?”
“That’s right. It seems my reputation is deserved after all.” He approaches me nervously. “Dorothy, about before, I—”
“It’s fine. There is nothing that should be said.”
“Oh?” There is a questioning pause. I nod my head.
“Yes. There’s nothing to worry about.”
He chuckles and sits down next to the piano. “Thank you, Dorothy.” Relief lifts him, and I’m happy to see it that way. I see his fingers moving to the melody. “So, where does this wonderful sound come from?”
“The origin doesn’t matter, Roger.” I say it with pride welling in my chest. “Do you need to know to appreciate what I am playing now?”
“No, Dorothy, I suppose I don’t,” he says, chuckling lightly. “It’s not often a man can appreciate a beautiful girl playing a masterpiece just for him.”
I turn away and smile a little more fully. “You’re a louse, Roger Smith.”
Last edited by WordShaker; 2011-02-13 at 04:26.
Reason: A final draft, I think.