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Death of a New Song: Part Four

Amateur writer: I've been working as a freelance writer for the past few months. These are some of my works of fiction.



A new song

Overly excited, Rob runs past his mother to the door of a modest, isolated house (about 3 blocks from their home) and proceeds to knock as one possessed - Much to the displeasure of his mother

Robbie!? She shouts in a disapproving tone as she approaches

Learning the error in his behavior, Rob instantly stops and waits

The door opens and Mrs. Cotten, an elderly lady; in her early 70s, short in stature with piercing black eyes slowly walks out to meet them - The knocking has come to be expected and even cherished

I'm so sorry Lizzie, this one never learns. She explains while extending her right hand for greetings

Oh! it's nothing. The old lady replies as they shake hands. How's your mother doing? She inquires with a genuine look of concern

Much better, thank God... She should be back on her feet in no time. She replies with a smile

Oh! that's good to hear... She responds. Please, come in. She invites the two - turning to lead them into the house

Thank you, Lizzie, but I must get back. She still needs someone to keep an eye on her; she really shouldn't be alone. She explains

Yes, I understand, dear. She replies with something of a shaky voice (turning back towards them). Then I guess that leaves you and me, sir? - She addresses the boy whose eyes exudes nothing but reverence towards her

Yes, Ma'am. The boy replies

Alright then, she exclaims with a smile as rob heads for the door - Mrs. Cotten makes way for the boy as she and Mrs. Robinson wind up their small talks

Admiring several framed pictures (of a younger Mrs. Cotten and her late husband) and old certificates, hand-made decorations, including dream catcher artworks, and one piano competition award, Rob walks down a small corridor into a relatively large, well-organized living room space

To the left of one of the windows is an old wall piano (illegible writings on one side) and duet bench which have been very well maintained by all accounts.

Aside from the piano, which has been allocated more than enough space for use, a few antiques - including several white and blue porcelain, two vintage cabinets, a beautiful wooden clock, as well as two armchairs and an old leather couch – evenly arranged across the room give it a museum feel.

A few moments later, Mrs. Cotten enters the room with a plate of freshly baked cookies and asks the boy to fetch two glasses of juice on the kitchen counter



Have you been helping your mother at home? She politely inquires of the boy as he makes his way back to the living room – Moving at a snail’s pace to avoid spilling the drinks

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Yes, Ma'am, he replies, I also... His line of thought is momentarily interrupted by police sirens outside. I also help Granma and teach her about the piano. He continues as soon as the sounds fade away

Letting out a chuckle, Oh, really? She retorts - That's very good of you. She'll need some help now that Granny's not feeling well – Thoughts she’s conveyed several times now.

Yes, Ma'am

Alright, did you wash your hands? She asks while gently pushing a small stool with the plate of cookies in his direction

Not yet, he replies and immediately heads to the kitchen

Moments later…

Seemingly lost in his thoughts and staring off into space with a piece of cookie in hand

Are you OK, dear? She asks as soon as this comes to her attention

Mrs. Cotten? Do you think I can be as good as Ray was? He asks the lady as he turns to face her

Somewhat surprised by the question, but equally impressed by his frame of mind, Well, of course, Robbie! As long as you practice and continue learning; there's no reason you can't be as good. She smiles. Even better: She concludes with a wink

Glowing and feeling motivated, but lacking words to return in kind, the boy continues drinking his juice

Taking a serious tone, Listen, Robbie, He puts his glass on the stool and again turns to face her. You are talented and you can be as good as you want to be! You hear?

Yes Ma'am.

I know you can do it; just stay focused and work hard. Ok?!

Yes Ma'am

Good, she continues. Then you can leave this rotten place and make a better life for yourself and your poor mother - She murmurs to herself

Go on, have some more cookies; then we'll start. She gestures at the plate

The piano lesson follows the same routine it has over the past few weeks

With the boy seated on the duet bench (his little notebook and pen on his side), Mrs. Cotten pulls a small, light stool for herself and takes a seat beside the piano near the window, leaning against the wall.

Let's see... She murmurs to herself. Do you remember the musical alphabet?

Sitting upright to assume the right posture, Yes, it's the first seven letters, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G - His left hand hovering over the keys

Very good, can you remember where middle C is? She asks with her eyes on the keyboard

The boy immediately does with ease. Poking at one of the white keys near the middle with his finger

Excellent! She commends the boy, resting her right hand on her left on her lap. Now we can start with the chords... What do you think a chord is?

Notes played together? He responds; nothing if not confident with his answer

Ok!? I can see we're on the right track

The lesson proceeds with Mrs. Cotten using the piano to explain important points, asking the boy some questions, responding to his questions as he takes down some notes, and again going through the parts the boy appears to have difficulties

Two hours or so into the lesson, Mrs. Cotten decides to take a little nap to rest her eyes. Before doing so, she, with the boy’s help push the Piano from its current location to a small space between the front door and kitchen wall - A space that would provide the boy with enough room and some privacy to practice whenever he comes around.

What do you think? She inquires while inspecting the new setting

I like it – In his heart, he’s already settled in. This will be his special place

Pointing to a small window right above the piano, with that window open, it’ll be perfect

He couldn’t agree more

Alright, have some more cookies first, then you can practice, OK? She insists before heading to the couch for her nap

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kimani Maruge

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