flash fiction by C. N. Nevets
It’s all about the black keys. Guitar players like sharps. Piano players like flats. Me, I play piano, but I don’t care if they’re sharps or flats. It’s just all about the black keys. Small, dark, dynamic, immersed in a suffocating field of sameness. They sing to my soul. They resonate with my soul. They call to and command my soul. If Jesus speaks in the red letters, I’m not sure speaks in the black keys, but I listen to them very closely.
After the bar closes and the piano man goes home, and I’m done mopping the floors, I sit at the piano, and I listen.
It’s pretty dark in the bar after closing, just the safety lights on. Even in low light, the black keys stand out. The more alone I am, the louder their voice.
I never drink, but my spirit becomes intoxicated.
Sometimes, as I play the piano and listen to the back keys, I see people. People like my ex-girlfriends, or girls from school who never talked to me, or my cousins who used to tease me about wearing glasses, or my mom, how she looked when I’d been bad. In the dark bar, they look pretty bright and clear.
Too bright and clear.
And sometimes the black keys start yelling at me then.
And it doesn’t matter what I play, I can’t stop listening to them.
When they yell at me, they lie. They tell me how my ex-girlfriends still love me. They tell me how the girls who never talked to me were just shy because they thought I was so cool. They tell me that my cousins teased me because we were family and that’s what family does. They tell me that my mom loved me and was just looking out for me.
As long as I can hear the black keys, I can’t help listening to them.
So I have to drown them out.
So I grab a box-cutter and write the words, “Shut up!” on my arm or my thigh or my belly.
Jesus speaks in the red letters.