KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Memoir: 580 words

Into the Night

by Gavin Larsen

By the time I get home tonight after the show, it will be late, my legs will be tired, and I will need protein and sleep as quickly as possible.

Waiting for dinner to cook will only make me grumpy, so at 4:00 in the afternoon, I preheat the oven to 400 and pop in a frozen ricotta-spinach-stuffed chicken breast from Trader Joe’s. I’ll cook it now and reheat it later, or just eat it cold. It smells good...savory and cheesy. I’m pre-chopping some vegetables, too, since who wants to come down from a performance-high by slicing carrots? My dinner-making ritual is comforting, familiar, and automatic. I duck in and out of the fridge for ingredients, and my hand reaches for the bottle of wine before I realize what time and day it is. That glass will be much more welcome six hours from now, when I get home and see the performance from the other side.

I lock the apartment door and hover on the landing for a second, doing a mental check-list: I’ve got pointe shoes in my bag, makeup’s at the theater already, a clean leotard to warm up in, sewing kit, trail mix and Clif bar, water bottle, tea mug, an umbrella for the walk from parking garage to stage door.

I live on the second floor of a duplex, an old Victorian house divided into two apartments. Walking down the wide staircase with its ornate, dark wood bannister, and dated but fancy-looking chandelier, I feel like a 1920s movie star. I just need a ball gown and fur stole. The ground-floor vestibule is dim, since the afternoon sun has gotten low, but it’s too early for the lights to come on. The walls are the same dark wood as the staircase. There’s a giant framed mirror over an elegant but tired side table, and a frayed Oriental rug. The porch looks squiggly through the front door’s bevelled glass windows. When this house was a single-family residence, the paneled pocket doors led into a formal dining room, which is now the ground-floor apartment. I like to picture a white-gloved butler parting those doors to welcome dinner guests.

My downstairs neighbor has a piano, but she rarely plays. She confessed to me once that she’s ashamed of not having practiced enough over the years, of having let her technique slip, and didn’t want to become sad at her lost ability if she were to try playing again. But she was a musician once, and a singer, and toured with a band.

As I get to the bottom of the stairs, the faint tinkle of music I heard from the second floor landing becomes stronger, and although I’m nervous about the time, I stop—is it a recording, or is someone playing the piano on the other side of that door? I can’t tell, quite. Sounds old-fashioned, almost like a Victrola record player, but not scratchy. Am I imagining the hesitancy between notes? The melody has life and breath, but isn’t polished, either. It sounds frail, delicate, a little tentative, but doesn’t pause as someone practicing might. I think of a sweet old lady, and lace doilies, and a parlor on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Standing there, listening, I expect the music to stop, but it goes on. I have to leave—I’m already late—but this moment seems timeless.

The music is Chopin, the very same etude to which I will dance tonight.


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