Pianoforte – Part 9
Read earlier installments here
The somber tone of the repeating triplet pattern filled Greta’s home. Every time she heard Moonlight Sonata, a swell of emotions overwhelmed her. It was one of the first songs she mastered as a young piano player. She remembered how her small hands were sore as she worked on the flexibility and stretch needed to keep the familiar arpeggios and chord progressions moving. The melody line was subtle, but the buildup always gave her goosebumps as the dynamics moved from piano to forte and back again.
As she played, Greta heard Philip pacing her living room. His steps were slow and carefully placed, as if he were trying not to make too much noise but he couldn’t stop himself from fidgeting. Greta had the sheet music in front of her but she didn’t need it. She’d played the piece so many times in her decades of music study that it was ingrained in her mind. Her hands knew what to do, but she set up the papers and pretended to look at the notes so it seemed she wasn’t watching Philip’s every move.
She heard him humming along and, when she snuck a glance, his eyes were closed. It was if her playing transported him somewhere else, and Greta thought she noticed tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
Greta heard the sirens in the distance. She looked at Philip to see if he’d heard them too, but he was so absorbed in the melody, she was sure he hadn’t. The sirens grew louder the closer they got, and Greta’s stomach churned.
Philip’s eyes snapped open.
“Stop,” he whispered, but Greta didn’t hear him and continued to play.
In one swift action, he moved to her side at the piano bench, gripping her hair and yanking her head back. The force stopped her hands.
“I said stop!” He yelled in her face. Greta caught his eyes as tears filled her own. He looked scared and crazed. He’d heard the sirens.
He yanked harder and pushed his face closer to hers as he asked, “What did you do, Miss Greta?”
There was a pounding on her front door, followed by an officer announcing that it was the police. Still gripping her hair, Philip forced Greta to her feet and dragged her toward the front windows. He carefully moved the curtain to get a better look at the cops on the porch. There were three poised to enter whether Greta opened the door or not. Other officers were on the street by the squad cars. Greta followed Philip’s gaze. He was watching a detective in a suit pacing the sidewalk and talking on a cell phone.
“Ms. Cranston, we are coming in,” one of the officer’s announced.
The next few minutes were a blur. Her home, her haven where she shared her love of music, was suddenly a swirl of police officers. Two grabbed Philip, peeling him off her. She felt clumps of her hair rip from her scalp as he tried to hold onto her. Another officer moved her to the side and asked her if she was okay. Greta didn’t remember answering.
The most vivid memory she had was Philip looking at her as the cops took him away in handcuffs. He looked scared and sad, but also relieved.
Greta swore he whispered, “thank you” as they took him away.