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She latched the door behind him. He began what would be his final trudge down these particular stairs. Three flights in total, two sets per flight, ten steps per set. She sat, pressed against the door, and listened to each note of his descending scale.


The musician, once nearing the fifty-eighth wooden piano key, inserted a well-timed musical rest. This held both audience and performer (who may or may not be included in the company of audience), in suspense. 


The altered cadence provided much character to the final three notes, not that a work of this magnitude lacked character. Quite the opposite.


Mozart used to talk about how each note of a composition should seek to lift the floor from the foundations of the building and gently hold the audience in sway with this deconstruction. Allowing fasteners to come loose from their beams showed a level of mastery. As the piece comes to a close, the arrangement is set back, audience unaware they were ever so slightly altered.


Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine. Sixty. Fine.


When he reached the final note, ending the piece on a tile flat, the building grew half an inch. This was not, of course, what Mozart had described-but perhaps its relative minor.


When he pressed through the entrance, late autumn grabbed him by the throat and led him backstage into the night. As the curtain closed behind him, pressure returned to the funnel of the instrument. Each door lining the staircase, including the one on the third floor, let out a single soft clap. Neither in approval nor disapproval, but recognition.


The original score, at least on paper, did not intend on this pause. It was inserted on account of the musician being momentarily unable to locate the final phrase. When later asked about the note that changed his career, he admitted, “There was something in my eye.”


For musicians, like lovers, do not believe in accidents. 


R. Thomas

S: Her, I, and: Text
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