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The First Finale MAG
THE FIRST FINALE by Lauren C., Ashland, VA A cold rain fell upon the busy streets. Black trench coats carrying umbrellas were seen hurrying along the sidewalks, maneuvering around what puddles they could. Through the clicks of heels on the concrete and the blast of impatient car horns, one could faintly hear a piano singing, almost harmonizing with his tears.
"Marge, I have done it! I really have done it!"
"Done what, dear?"
"Done what?! What do you mean, done what? I've accomplished my dream, fulfilled my one reason for living! Besides being with you," he added. "I can't believe I have actually done it," the man yelled as he picked up his wife and began spinning her around.
"That's wonderful Henry, but I'm not quite -"
"I'm going to make copies of my music tomorrow and send one to Nate Winston. Hopefully, he will approve my composition, make millions of copies, and put it on shelves across the world! Marge, in no time I'm sure I'll hear famous musicians performing my music," he said, interrupting his wife. Luckily, he clarified what he was talking about. She knew he wouldn't have been happy if she couldn't recall what his one reason for living was. She smiled at her silliness. How could she have forgotten his one dream - his aspiration to hear his very own music performed by well-admired musicians? She thought of the endless nights she lay awake listening to him play the same passage of music repeatedly, hoping that more would appear under his fingertips.
"Come to bed," she would tell him each night.
Every time he would reply, "Tonight's the night, Marge, tonight's the night." Then he would turn back to the battered keyboard and stained piece of paper with evidence of his night's work. This was how it had been since they first married. Of course, she minded it a little. Each time she felt a wave of loneliness, she would remember the vow she had made to herself when the couple married. She promised to support her husband in his fledgling music career, even if it meant living in poverty until his dream came true. So eventually the couple had to spend their days in an old boarding house across from a run-down Boston baked bean factory. On a windy day the aroma of baked beans still emanated from the factory to their second-story room. The couple's only valuable possession was the old baby-grand piano that stood in a dark corner of their one-room apartment.
In the room below lived a very old man named Sydney. Sydney dreamed of performing beautiful music, not for money but for pleasure. He would often visit the couple and remain there for hours listening to Henry play, imagining what it would be like to be on stage in front of millions of eyes. His fingers would lightly touch the keys.
But then Henry would stop playing and tell Sydney to go home and get some rest. It was then that Sydney would wake up and realize he would never acheive his dream; his fingers were cursed with arthritis in his old age.
Fall turned into winter and the cold rain turned into snow. Henry found himself feeling worthless and depressed. Henry waited a month after he sent his music to Nate Winston to check. Only one. One copy out of the millions of music stores around the United States, and for all he knew that one copy had been bought by his mother, who was always the sentimental type.
Henry tried picking up his pencil to write more music, but the notes were only blobs, ugly and meaningless. The only comfort came from Sydney. "Henry," Sydney said, "you still have a long life ahead of you and many chances to live your dream. Don't give up after one try. I never went after my dream and now my arthritis ensures that I never will." Sydney's wise words were thoughtful but didn't ease the suicidal feelings.
One night Henry grabbed his coat and told his wife that he was going out for a walk. Before leaving, he took one last glance at his darling wife. She had given up her life for him and he certainly loved her for it, but he didn't want her to go through life married to a failure. "Good-bye, my sweet," he whispered as he closed the door. He would dearly miss her.
He started down the sidewalk, not sure where to go or what to do. An unusual winter rain poured from the heavens. It was as if God was crying for him and his misery. Up a ways he noticed the town auditorium was lit and filling up with people. Henry hadn't seen the auditorium open since the piano recital he had had when he was only eight. He decided to take a look. The auditorium smelled of rotting wood, and cobwebs decorated the ceiling. As he took a seat, the lights started to dim and a man walked slowly to the piano on the stage. The man seemed almost familiar to Henry, but a shadow had fallen across the man's face, keeping his identify unknown. The man took a seat and then lightly touched the white and black keys with fingers that quivered. With a deep breath he began the first chord. The notes rang out through the auditorium, filling the dark room with a bright light. Henry listened intently. He imagined himself playing the beautiful melody; each note seemed to come from his own heart. Henry watched the man cringe as he pushed down the keys as if they were fighting against him. A sudden familiarity swept over Henry as he began to recognize the piece as his own. The man was playing his music!
And then there was silence. What? What happened? Henry thought. He isn't done. Why did he stop? Henry looked toward the stage to see the old man's head resting on the piano, his fingers still in place. He was still. Henry ran up to the stage with others to see if the man was all right. Someone had moved him onto the floor and solemnly pronounced that his heart had stopped. The man was dead. Henry peered over the shoulders that were gathered around him. On the floor lay a man, limp and fragile. A look of contentment covered his face.
"Thank you, Sydney," Henry whispered. He walked away thinking how to begin his next piece.
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