The Black Keys of a Piano


I sat quietly in my history class, finding myself, once again, greatful to live in Oakland. Like Billie had said in the car, there's a lot of punks that moved here from Rodeo, so not a lot of those judgemental shrews that you hear about in chick flicks. Y'know, the girls in the tiny pink tops with the short skirts? White heals and a teacup puppy in their purse? I sighed in relief that Oakland Middle School had none of those. Just a handful of girls who thought they were the greatest creations to walk planet earth, but that was it.

The other teens in the classroom weren't the ones out of the 90's, with spiked, colored hair, piercings and tattoos covering their skin. They were relaxed people, some had lightly colored streaks in their hair, maybe a piercing here and there, and they wore loose fitting clothing and converse. The style of punk had evolved, but it's message was the same.

Our teacher walked in, a middle aged balding man, who even though looked like he'd been to Hell and back over the weekend, he exhibited the greatest level of enthusiasm for teaching about history. And that was a lot more than I could say for my other teachers.

Classes blurred into one another, and I bounced all about the school. From History to Biology, then to Math after lunch, then gym, and finally - Art class. I enjoyed art class the most out of everything. Mostly because it encouraged individuality. You blend in with everyone else in every other class.

I no longer had to attend music class anymore, and as far as my piano teacher was concerned, I had quit. I smirked to myself, considering coming back when I'd learned something, and entering in the piano recidal. The mystery girl that everyone knew had no talent, would show up, play some horrifically beatiful ballad, and then disappear without a trace, like the phantom of the opera.

No one took it upon themselves to talk to me today, so that made it a normal day. Although we were all fish swimming in the same bowl, they all looked at one another differently, like they were all breathing different water. Like they were special.

With the hour exclusion of music class, I was free of school at two. My mom or my dad would be waiting in the parking lot to take me home early before returning to work.

Today it was my dad. He sat in the rusted, slightly beat up Stationwagon that he'd proudly fixed up. He had the radio on, at a quiet volume, with the windows, rolled down, reading the newpaper. I climbed into the passengers' seat and looked over at him.

"Sup." I greeted him while I pulled my seatbelt over my head. He folded up his newspaper and set it on the dash.

"How was school?"

"Same old." I replied, looking out the windows - windows I could actually see out of. "Nothing really changes in that school," I added on, fishing through my backpack for my sunglasses while I pried off my hoodie. "Same old cliques, I am grateful, however, that there aren't a mass ammount of popular girls. Otherwise, that place would be the spitting image of some cliche teen flick." I laughed, dropping the shades onto the bridge of my nose when I'd retrieved them.

"How so?" He asked, keeping his eyes on the road.

"A mass amount of punk kids? The 'outcasts'. Them against a bunch of preppy teens, it'd be priceless. The pitting image of a cliche teen flick." I smile, the sun's rays reflecting off the lense of my sunglasses.

My dad turned up the radio then, and like this morning, I recognized the tune, but it wasn't Nirvana this time. It was What About Love? by Heart. My mom had really liked them when she was in collage, and I had gotten her old vinyls, CD's, shirts and posters.

Me and my dad shared a silent moment, and a familiar smirk, because we were both thinking the same thing: If mom were in the car right now, she'd be singing the lyrics loudly, and out of tune on purpose just to annoy us. We both start laughing.

"You'll be done with your lessons around the same time tonight, right?"

I nod as I get out of the car, pulled along the curb of Dracula's house so my dad could take off immediately afterwards.

"Yeah, around five sometime. See ya later, dad. Love you!"

"Love you too, kiddo!" He called out his window as he pulled away. I turned and looked up at the intimidating white house, and in the shadows cast over the long windows of the second floor, I saw him standing there, with a big goofy smile on his face. He disappeared from the window, and answered the door a few moments later.

"Hey Harley." He greeted me casually as I stepped past him into the foyer. I dropped my backpack on the tile and turned to face him.

"Drac." I responded with a smirk, crossing my arms across my chest.

He rolled his eyes. "Hungry? I was busy working on some new material, that I kinda forgot to eat..." he told me guiltily. I laughed and followed him to the kitchen.

"Where's Adrienne?" I wondered, realizing the house was vacant of her constant kindness and sunshine.

"Shopping." He responded with a nod, while he rifled through the fridge for sandwich ingredients. "She always does her shopping on Tuesdays. Dunno why, that woman has her patterns, and no one is going to get in her way to break them now." He chuckled while he dug through a utinsel drawer.

I watched him work, and silently judged his actions. He didn't act like some five star rock star. He looked part hippy, part punk reject. I questioned if he'd ever actually been in a band at all.

"My mom said Adrienne told her you were in a band." I inquired, watching his reaction slow down as he paused.

"Uh... Yeah. I mean, it was a long time ago." He shrugged, clearing his throat. "Me and my friend Mike started it back in high school. You saw him last night."


He turned around with a big grin on his face. "If you're going to spy, do it subtly. I could see you oogling from your bedroom window. Might as well have had out binoculars, y'know, make it a bit more obvious?" He joked, and my cheeks flared pink in a combination of embarrassment and annoyance.

"Anyways," He began again, "Yeah, I was. We were called Sweet Children for a while. After high school, though, I mean, it just didn't work out."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "So what do you do?"

"Huh? What do I do?" He echoed in confusion.

"Do you sit around here? Pounding on the piano, dreaming of what could have been?"

A look I couldn't fathom shined in his eyes, and instead of getting mad, he smiled. "No. I got everything I needed from life."

"That doesn't answer my question. What-"

"Come on," He walked past me, holding two plates and heading for the grand staircase. "We're burning practice time."

His smile was timid and sly. I couldn't pick it... I follwed him anyways, but watched him. For some reason, I thought he was lying. He had no reason to... Unless he was secretly in Foo Fighters, then yeah, he should be running, because I'd be chasing him with adoption papers.

We sat before that grand piano again, and I felt slightly more acquainted with it. Billie chowed down on his sandwich while I recited everything I'd learned yesterday.

"That's a D." He corrected with his mouth full. I moved my finger over a few more keys and he nodded in satisfaction. I continued playing the three notes I'd learned yesterday, until like yesterday, their names, sound and meaning was burned into my head.

"Alright, let's try something else. We'll start with something simple - like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
"Are you kidding me?!" I gasped, "Why that?! Surely there's some epic rock thing I can play."

He looked at me impatiently, "We all start somewhere. Even I started with Mary had a Little Lamb when I first learned, and I was far younger than you. Now look at me."

As an example, he stretched out his hands before him, and placed them on the keys, and preformed a sickeningly precise scale between notes and chords that had an annoyed glare forming on my face as the seconds passed.

"Asshole." I muttered, and he laughed.

"If you want to get somewhere, you have to start with the basics." He lectured, "And Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is as basic as they come."

I grumbled, watching him stretch his fingers again before beginning to play the sickeningly simple lullaby. I leaned back and watched him, but as his playing progressed, he started to add chords, like a sneaky, cheating bastard. And soon, the small music room was filled with the most advanced version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star I'd ever heard.

"You said this song was for beginners!" I protested in annoyance. He snickered and scaled to an end note before smiling at me knowingly.

"It is for beginners," He began, "That's what you are now, and that..." He pointed at the keys, "Is what you aspire to be."
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I really like the ending. :) Any suggestions on filler type things to add to the story?