A Piano Fell Down the Stairs

Donald Hiscock

It was four years ago, in a restaurant in Rome, that you said that you had made up your mind and that the matter was closed. We ate veal that night and then said nothing more about your decision. I can’t remember eating veal since.

There was another time though when you hinted that things might be different. It’s funny how it’s always when we’re abroad. It was Spain. I think the sunshine must do something to you, or at least the change of scene. It was only a hint, and maybe you hadn’t even realised that you had said it. It might have been the wine. We ate fish we didn’t know the name of and were careful with the bones. It gave me hope, but then it faded when we got home.

Other people that we know have asked us about it and I’ve always waited for your expression. You never give much away to them, so I look for subtle signs. You have the kind of poker face that has served you well in your profession. Everyone but me finds you hard to read.

“How rude!” you exclaimed once when recalling what Melody had asked over dinner. You told me in the middle of the night when I was lost in a dream again about discovering the piano on the stairs of your parents’ house. “What a nosey cow.”

It’s too obvious to say that four years is a long time. I wonder if I could bear to eat veal again.

I never knew your parents. That’s the funny thing. But I know them in those dreams I have, but am too afraid to tell you about. They seem nice people, so I’m sure I would have liked them. Your mother is very good looking which, I must admit, I enjoy as it’s only a dream. We never get beyond the top of the stairs where I notice that she is wearing nothing beneath her dress. The piano is the part that concerns me, though, as I’m the only one who's seems to worry that it might fall. I wonder if they were here today they would be asking you to change your mind.

Perhaps they would have been the ones to make you reconsider. Without them, In recent years you haven’t come close to mentioning the subject, even though the subject has been closing in on you. Melody is your oldest friend but is now a cow. Secretly, I like it when you get cornered like that and have to react. I know it’s playing on your mind. I’m hoping you will just snap out of it, but then you have always warned me that you would kill me if you ever heard me use that phrase.

Perhaps your mother said it to you once. Yes, maybe that was it. That lovely woman I see from time to time with a perfumed voice and a seductive smile. I follow her up the stairs and we squeeze past the precariously balanced piano.


Donald has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Southampton. He has worked as a journalist and as a teacher of English and is currently involved in several short fiction projects that he hopes to publish this year.

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