Salut d'Amour

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Another couple came to visit today. The man played a piece I’d never heard before, perhaps slow jazz; he wasn’t too much of a pianist, so I helped him out. He just needed to relax his wrists and get his posture right. He reminded me of myself, a little. The woman laughed, she reminded me of you. They embraced, they walked off.

Apparently I’m the talk of the town on certain days. Lots of visitors, lots of songs, lots of smiles and laughs and most of the time I need to rescue someone (don’t worry, I only help them out if they seem sincere) because their hands are shaking and a pianist wouldn’t want to mess up on a song they’re playing for the love of their life.

I don’t remember the first time someone visited me, out in the woods on the outskirts of town. Someone played a charming little love ballad, but their nervousness made the piece too forceful, so I stepped in to aid them. Their partner thought it was beautiful. The next week another couple visited, and somehow whispers of “a true love piano” started spreading.

Not that the piano itself is anything special, though. It’s just the old one that used to live in my basement before you convinced me to haul it out and keep it in the living room so we could play duets.

Do you remember when we met?

Once I was your music tutor. Your mentor was once my mentor. Your mother thought it would benefit both of us to play a few songs together a few times each month.

Do you remember the first concert we shared?

It was sometime in the very end of winter, when the first flowers of spring were starting to unfurl from the snowbanks on the hills. I wore a blue tie you nagged me to wear, you wore an azure (azure, not just blue, you assured me repeatedly) dress to match. You worried about skipping notes, I worried about my heart skipping beats.

Do you remember the first time you told me of your dreams?

We were working on a slow waltz. You sighed and told me you dreamt of leaving your quiet household and living in the cacophony of distant, foreign cities. You tired of the simple song of our hometown, you yearned for the intricate music of the wide world. I encouraged you. I supported you. It was your dream.

Do you remember the last song I played for you, the day you left for a plane that would take you across an ocean and away from me forever?

Edward Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. When you left, I couldn’t bring myself to play any other melodies. Maybe I needed the practice on that piece, maybe I wasn’t satisfied with my technique overall, maybe I wasn’t satisfied with the way I played that day—

Maybe I believed that if I had played beautifully enough, I could have convinced you not to leave. But then one day I woke up with the snow surrounding me, and I realized that I couldn’t leave that spot. I stayed with that piano you loved, because you loved it, and I believed you loved me, even though now I can no longer coax melodies from the keys.

Now, I am no more than an instrument of countless others’ affections, the impetus of a hundred charming romances that I wish I could have had with you.

Whispers in the town continue, couples still visit and both men and women confess their feelings and play songs for each other with my help. A middle-aged man who apparently lives nearby tunes my strings and sets up makeshift shelters for me in the winter. I saw him once with a group of other men in white coats, who looked at me a few moments, talked about moving me somewhere, and ultimately left and never returned. I don’t know why they let me stay here.

I don’t know where you are now. I don’t know if you ever thought of me since we went our separate ways. I don’t remember the sound of your voice. I don’t remember your name. I don’t remember your eyes, your smile.

But I remember you.

I remember why I want to stay here.

I love you.

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