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  • Writer's picturesamuel butchart

The Discovery

The boy was bored. He drifted down the long white corridor and came across a small room; the door was wide open and inside was empty. The first thing he noticed was the black piano sitting against the wall. He knew he’d seen these before, these very solemn-looking machines, but he’d never really noticed them. Until now, like all solemn-looking things, the piano had been merely ornamental to his young mind, part of the furniture of the grown-up world.

But now, for some reason, this one seemed to call out to him and beckon him closer. He quietly entered the room, sat at the piano stool and looked around to make sure the room was still empty. He lifted a finger and pressed a key. Nothing happened. He pressed it harder: the sound it made startled him it was so loud, it seemed to rush into his ears like white-water.

How did it do that?

The boy glanced around again, then carefully stood up on the stool and cracked open the lid of the piano. If he had been a few years older just then he would have cried aloud: “What the fuck is going on in here?” and it would have thrilled him to say it, but he was only seven years old and didn’t know how to say that yet.

He slipped his head inside to get a better look. What are these long metal fingers? He pulled his head out and glanced over at the door — he knew intuitively that it wasn’t right to step on the piano … but there was no one around. He slipped his head back in, then softly pressed his shoe over the keys: the long metal fingers inside moved reluctantly, arthritically, reached out and caressed the opposite wall. But again, no sound. He pressed his foot harder. The long metal fingers lunged forward and the chamber roared with sound. The boy jumped back and nearly fell off the stool. He quickly shut the lid and climbed down. Then he hurried over to the door, poked his head out and looked up and down the long white corridor. No one. The corridor seemed to stretch away infinitely and silently in both directions. Where does sound go? he wondered. Was it still inside of him?

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