Planter #FridayFictioneers

Once children had loved playing on the miniature piano but then it had been abandoned and the stories all lost.

I didn’t have the heart to throw the piano in the skip and send it to landfill with the rest of the rebuilding waste. I set it to one side whilst I thought what to do with it.

The months passed and from the soil on top of the piano plants began growing and that sparked the long awaited idea of how to save the instrument.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/03/13/15-march-2019/ with thanks).

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The Train Station (Part 6)

Train Station

Bridget returned to the train station the next day. Nothing had changed, expect for the people. As she walked along to the coffee shop, someone was playing the piano. Slipping her headphones off, she heard the end notes of a song that sounded like it came from a Disney movie. Trying to figure what it had been, she went into the shop and joined the queue.

It was busy today. The smell of coffee drawing everyone in and the sight of snacks tempting even the strong willed. Bridget fiddled with her headphones, wanting to put them back on but knowing if she did that it would be her turn to order. So, she fell into people watching without really meaning too.

The old man in front of her was holding his glasses to his eyes and looking at the menu. He was leaning slightly on the handle of a suitcase, though trying to act like he was not needing any support. His skin was tanned and wrinkly and there was golden wedding band on his finger. he was wearing cool, loosing fitting cotton clothes and comfy shoes that sort of looked like slippers, but could not have been. He was also muttering the menu under his breath.

Leaving him and looking further down, Bridget saw four other people, one of whom person  seemed to be holding up the line as they could not make up their mind. Bridget started with him, noticing the blue suit he was wearing and the neat hair cut. She thought for a second, she reconsidered him, but then he turned and he was a stranger.

After him were three people waiting for their drinks. They were all woman and two of them seemed to know each other. Bridget could not get a clear view, but she thought they sounded like they were from London. The third woman was wearing a bright summer dress and looking unhappy. Or maybe she just really needed some coffee.

‘Hi, can I take your order, please?’

Bridget snapped around to the man behind the counter and said the first think to come into her head, ‘a caramel latte please.’

‘Size?’

‘Medium with cream,’ she added.

The man nodded and told her the cost. Bridget handed the money over and went to join the small group of people waiting. Once she had her drink, she hurried outside and grabbed any empty chair she could. Sitting down opposite the teenage girl who had let her have the chair, Bridget relaxed.

She looked around the station, hoping to spot Drew or Sas or someone else she had recorded in her notebook. The people before her seemed alien. They were hurrying about in that way she had  become use to, heading to the trains or out of the station. The hum of voices mixed with the sound of trains and also the background sounds of the city that the strong wind was blowing in. The smell of coffee, mingled with engine oil, people and fast food.

Bridget wrapped her hands around her coffee cup and wondered why she had thought she’d ever see them all again. The train station was just a gateway for these people. They came from their homes or places of work, went to wherever they were going in the city then headed back again. Or the other way around. She sighed and without thinking of it dipped a finger into the whipped cream on top of her coffee and licked it off.

The teenage girl soon left, not saying anything else to her, even if she had seen Bridget licking the cream and sipping burning latte nosily. Bridget drew out her notebook and pen. She glanced around, sadly and tried to pick out someone from the crowd.

She just could not do it though. Her head was filled with a vision of those two men meeting and hurrying off. Their story had to be told and somehow she was the one who had to do it.

The Train Station (Part 2)

Train Station

Bridget watched the hurrying people with interest and was reminded of the sea. People come in and out of the barriers alongside the trains coming in and out of the station. The noise of footsteps, voices, suitcase and pram wheels become one solid background sound that competed with the rattle of train wheels and rumbling of engines. Above it all, came the PA lady’s voice, shouting the arriving, departing and delays on the trains.

Sipping her latte, Bridget dug her other hand into her bag and pulled out a small notebook. Setting that on the now dry table, she reached back in for a pen and spent a few moments locating one. Pulling out a heavy sliver fountain pen, Bridget slid her eyes over to the table beside her.

The middle-age couple had fallen back into silence with the man looking at his phone and the woman now stealing glances at Bridget. Their eyes met once more and this time the woman turned away and drew out her own phone.

Bridget turned her back to them and flipped open the notebook. She turned to the next blank page, her fancy handwriting on the previous pages not catching her eyes enough to make her stop. Picking up her pen and taking the lid off, Bridget wrote the date at the right top corner of the page just like high school had drilled into her for five years. Then in the middle of that line she wrote; Observations At Victoria Train Station, Manchester, 2: 21pm.

From her mind’s eye, she then wrote a detailed description of the couple sitting next to her. After, she recorded that snatch of conversation she had heard. Looking down at what she had written, she tried not to read it back, but to let it go from her mind. Rising her head and tucking a strand of her long med-brown coloured fringe back, Bridget stared at the barriers and watched the flow of people come to a slow stop.

Two men wearing yellow high visibility vests patrolled the area. They were checking tickets that gates would not let through and opening the wide gate for those with prams, suitcases and wheelchairs. Further to the left side and now more visible, another group of people wearing the same yellow vests stood behind a desk. They seemed to be in charge of getting passengers just off trains to pay for their tickets if they had not been able to before. Bridget had missed them in the crowd of the lunch-time rush. The station crew did not held her gaze for long though.

The tinkling of piano brought her head around and to the train time board. Just underneath the forever changing place names and times was a large black upright piano. It had been painted with that special blackboard paint, allowing chalk writing and images to cover the surface.

Bridget had clocked it before when she had been heading to the coffee shop. Even though she could not see it now, she remembered that purple letters had shouted out play on me! Then they had been something about the piano being given free by the Manchester School of Music for public use.

Taking a few big drinks of her now cooling latte, Bridget listened to the sad musical notes ringing out. She did not recognize the song. Though if it was classic, she would have no idea anyway, beside from the few famous ones that get played all the time. On the other hand if it was a pop song or a love ballad, she would not have known that either.

Placing her half empty cup down, she picked up her pen and decided to note down the idea of a pianist who could only play sad music. Maybe his lover has died and he can no longer face the world.  The door of his Paris flat has been locked for many years and he’s now slowly dying as he creates the most saddest music man had ever known.

Bridget trailed off the idea. That was not her normally story writing subject. The song on the piano ended and though it had been good, nobody clapped. Normal sounds filled the train station once more. The female announcer broken in with, ‘the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train which was previously delayed, is now arriving at platform three. This service will be stopping at; Liverpool Lime Street only. Please keep your luggage with you at all times.’

The couple hurriedly finished their drinks and got up. Bridget watched them from underneath her hair as they gathered their belongings.

‘Finally!’ the man spoke out, ‘stupid trains, never on time.’

The woman shook her head and looked like she was going to say something back. Thinking better of it, she followed the man out of the coffee shop seating area and towards the barriers. Bridget saw her give a quick glance over her shoulder.

Was she checking if I was following her or if she’d left something behind? Bridget wondered.

Frowning, Bridget watched them feeding their tickets into the gate and going though. Dropping her shoulders and wishing she could have learnt more from that snatch of conversation the couple had had, she let her eyes drift across the station. There was still a large number of people standing about or walking. A few had gathered under the train time table board and were looking up at it. Other people standing still were clearly waiting for people. Bridget spotted someone coming towards her.

He was a tall guy, six foot two at lest and he had long black hair tied back off his face. He had a bushy beard too and a very round fat face. He was a huge young man with a belly hardly held in by the belt of his jeans. He was wearing a black heavy metal band t-shirt and was looking down at his phone as if the thing was alive.

Bridget picked up her pen and began writing again. Another part of her mind drifted off into thinking about who he was waiting for. A family member? An old friend? Maybe he might be going on a first date with someone he met online?

Bridget raised her head and looked at him. She could see the handsomeness in him, the almost American biker style look or perhaps Viking warrior. His arm muscles looked strong under his t-shirt despite his overweight body. Suddenly the man looked up, but not at her at the gates were a woman was coming through. She had ginger hair, fair skin with a splattering of brown freckles and small features. She was wearing a blue vest top, leather jacket and long blue skirt. She was also just carrying a handbag on one shoulder.

She came over, looking happy if a little tried and hugged the huge man. She had to stand on tiptoes and her arms barely went around his bulging neck. She seemed to become lost against him as they embraced tightly. Then, they kissed and hand in hand walked away.

Bridget watched them go, her mind reeling then took to her notebook once more. Just as she started writing someone began playing the piano. It was a different person this time. Bridget rose her head as the first notes become caught up in a man singing- badly. She tried to see who was seated at the piano, but it was not possible from the angle she was at. Getting back to writing, she tried block out the off key and slightly squeaky rendition of a current love song.

She hurriedly wrote down what she could remember about the young man and his girlfriend. Setting her pen down, she finished her coffee and thought about leaving. The man on the piano was making a terrible sound with his voice and yet his playing was not so bad. It also seemed like he had attracted a small group of people, but Bridget knew they were actually looking at the train time table.

She packed her stuff away, zipped up her bag and stood up. Tugging it on as she walked away, Bridget avoided a small running toddler whose mother was yelling in Polish for him to come back. She side stepped and carried on walking as the pianist finished his song and launched into another one.

She saw him for the first time, a short Asian man with close cut black hair, wearing jeans and a green polo shirt. There was a large gold watch on his wrist, which didn’t seem to be slowing him from playing. Bridget almost stopped, the notes sounding very familiar. Then the man opened his mouth and began singing the theme song from Titanic.

Bridget cringed, unable to hide it from her face and picked up her pace. She headed out of the train station the piano and terrible singing chasing after her. Stepping through the doorway, she took a few breaths of polluted city air and though she did not really want to, Bridget went home.

 

To Be Continued…

Musical Notes

Piano, Musician, Music, Instrument

Alfred stopped on his normal morning walk to get his newspaper when he heard the piano notes. He looked about, wondering where the music was coming from. The house windows all around him either had curtains or blinds blocking his view and through the rest he could see flowers and ornaments on the window sills. He lent on his walking stick, catching his breath and wondering if he had imagined it.

Lately, smells, sounds and ghosts from his past had been appearing without reason. His dreams too had been inflicted by memories he either had forgotten or really wished he had forgotten. So, far nothing had worked to lay his past back where it belonged.

Listening longer, Alfred decided that the music was real and someone, somewhere close by was playing a piano. The notes made up a merry tune, though it wasn’t one he knew. Studying the houses again, he realised he was close to the new building estate at the end of the next street from his home. Lots of new people had recently moved in and he betted that it was one of them the music was coming from. He saw no windows open or doors, so the sound must be drifting.

Getting back to walking, he recalled the piano lessons he had at school as a boy. He had not taken to it or any other instrument; instead he had enjoyed sport and other physical activities. Thinking those thoughts led to sadder thoughts. Bring himself back, he followed the path that would led him to a short cut across the fields to the shops. The music followed him as if trying to pull him back, but a few steps later it faded and he could no longer hear it.

Dancing

Character inspiration:

Ross couldn’t help the smile that came to his face, after all this time he was finally back in the dance studio again. He wheeled into the centre of the springboard floored room and caught himself in the mirror wall. He looked different, another new man. He stroked his flat black hair then his long beard, before deciding that he really did like this new style.

‘Hi. Are you ready?’

He glanced over at the sound of the soft female voice. Monika was standing by the low table in the far corner, her finger on the CD player’s button. The display flashed track one in red letters in an urgent like motion.

Ross nodded, ‘I believe so. I’ve been waiting all week for this.’

Monika pressed the button. The CD’s display stopped flashing, settling on the same words as soft instrumental music flowed out of the speakers. Monika slide over to him, reaching for his hands with her own.

Ross swallowed, nerves and fear bundling inside him. The voice in the back of his head shot up, but he quickly locked it down again. Nothing was going to stop him from dancing today. He took Monika’s hands, her skin felt cool and dry against his hot and starting to sweat palms.

‘Just like we talked about,’ Monika said calmly and quietly.

‘Yes,’ he responded, recalling their phone convention yesterday.

Monika took a deep breath and shut her eyes. Ross did the same and let the sound of the music fill him. He let his thoughts drift away on each changing piano note and opened himself up. No longer was he tied to the wheelchair or the war, no longer just another casualty or unsung war hero, he was a dancer.

He opened his eyes, grinned up at Monika and they danced passionately around the room.

The Soldier’s Piano

 

russian

Boris was walking through deep woods with his troop when something strange caught his eye. He paused and aimed his rifle automatically. As his eyes adjusted to the distance, he thought it was a piece of furniture. He lowered the weapon and cast a look at the back of the soldier ahead of him. Private Coss was disappearing behind a tree, a stripe of cigarette smoke drifting behind him.

Lowering his gun even more, Boris slowly moved a few paces. He knew he should really be following Coss or else he should have pointed out the object. It was probably nothing, but back up was always useful. The enemy hadn’t seen or heard from in days. The rumour was that they had retreated back to the boarder. However, patrols like Boris’ still went out daily.

He carried on cautiously. His heavy and mud splattered boots crunching loudly on leaves and sticks. As he got closer, he saw it was a straight back piano. He stopped and shouldered the rifle. He turned and began stepping away. There was no threat from a musical instrument.

I wonder how it got there?

The thought caught him off guard and he twisted around. The piano stood silently with a small bird perched on top of it, which watched Boris curiously. Rearranging his gun, he marched up to the piano. The dark wood looked freshly varnished, but it was already showing signs of being exposed to the elements. As the bird took flight, Boris wandered around the piano and saw that there was no one hiding on the other side.

He strolled around again and slid the cover off the keys. They looked intact, just like the rest of the instrument. He doubt it would work or even been in tune. He chuckled and pulled up the rifle’s strap. He stretched out cold fingers and hovered them over some keys. It felt like a life time since he’d played.

He brought his fingers down and they struck the keys loudly. He jumped back, his heart racing at the sudden blast of sound in the quiet woods. Clutching his rifle, Boris looked around. A flock of birds had taken flight and were circling the sky. They called out to each other and then flapped out of sight. Running footsteps and hushed voices came from behind him and Boris readied the gun. From out of the tree line came Private Coss. His gun was in firing position. As they saw each other, they lowered their weapons.

‘What was that?’ Coss said in a low voice.

‘The piano,’ Boris replied, nodding towards it.

Another two men, who Boris recognised as Privates Ivchenko and Pokrovsky joined them. They scouted the area, moving in out of the trees like alert deer. The vibrations of the notes faded and Boris turned back to the piano. This time he touched the keys more slowly and gently. They played their softer notes and in perfect tune.

‘What’s it doing here?’ Coss asked coming to his side.

‘No idea. Must have been dumped,’ Boris answered.

He looked over the top, trying to see a house or smoke or car tracks in the mud. He saw nothing but trees and undisturbed ground. Somehow, he knew it hadn’t been there very long, but it was a mystery to how and why it had ended up here.

‘What’s that?’ a deep voice spoke from behind them.

‘A piano,’ Coss explained, with a glance over his shoulder at Ivchenko.

Boris’s fingers were still playing across the keys. Notes rippled out of the piano forming a familiar song. He didn’t realise he was doing so until Coss grabbed his hand. Boris shot him an anger look and then followed Coss line of sight. A stag had appeared at the edge of the clearing. Boris’s breath caught in his throat, he’d never seen the animal up close. Beside him, Coss was grabbing his gun and resting it against the piano.

‘Don’t,’ Boris whispered.

‘Why not?’ Ivchenko rumbled.

He forced his way between them and balanced his gun as well.

‘What’s going on?’ Pokrovsky called. ‘Is it the enemy?’

‘No. It’s a mighty stag. Biggest I’ve ever seen!’ Ivchenko hissed.

‘Let’s take it down together,’ Coss cut in.

‘I said no!’ Boris shouted and he pounded the piano.

A blast of notes shot up in the air, backed by gun fire. However, the stag had startled at Boris’ voice and had already jumped off. The bullets sunk harmlessly into the trunks of trees, but the piano’s notes carried on with their warning sound.

Ivchenko swung his gun and threw the butt into Boris’s face.

‘What the fuck did you do that for?’ he yelled.

Boris stumbled backwards, a hand rising to the side of his face. Ivchenko went to hit him again, but Coss grabbed the muzzle of the gun. Pokrovsky stepped between them, facing Ivchenko with his arms spread.

‘Stop, stop!’ he cried.

Pressing a hand to his face, Boris spat blood. He watched it fall on a crumbled leaf and then turned back to the other soldiers. The notes had faded away and the natural sounds of the woods had returned. Boris rubbed his jaw; it felt numb and swollen already. He tongued the cut inside his cheek and spat more blood.

‘Let’s get back,’ Coss said calmly.

He lowered Ivchenko’s gun, letting go. Mumbling and swearing under his breath, Ivchenko went to shoulder his rifle, but suddenly he took aim and fired. The shot deafened them and caused Coss and Pokrovsky to move backwards.

Boris held his ground and looked down. He expected blood to blossom across the khaki uniform and pain to rocket through him. When nothing happened he raised his head and observed the piano. A massive chunk had been ripped out of the side. Bits of wood and string lay across the ground and there was a dull groaning vibration coming from the instrument as if the piano was dying.

Boris glanced at Ivchenko, catching the look of satisfaction across the soldier’s face as he shouldered his rifle and turned away.