The dream felt real. The type of dream that could reach and touch a soul, where reality fades away, and there is nothing left but the subject of the dream. A woman, a beautiful young woman with long silky black hair, sitting upright at the piano chair and playing a song that could make angels cry. Jacob stared through the foggy window of the old yellow house. He looked at this beautiful woman playing the song, and she looked back at him, the beautiful melody stopping. He realized that the girl had been crying onto the keys of the piano. Looking into his eyes, she opened her mouth to speak.
“Listen” She whispered.
Jacob awoke on the couch in the living room. He reached back and turned on the lamp rubbing his forehead. His phone read that it was one in the morning. Groaning, Jacob got up and made his way into the kitchen for a glass of water. Dreams like that had come every night since he had moved to fix up the house for his friend. Jacob was a full-time construction worker, working on making it as a composer. Recently he had found himself out of work, his friend offered the house rent-free as long as he fixed it up in preparation to sell it. The best part was there was a piano upstairs where he could write his music.
The dream always took place in the old house with the woman playing the piano that was upstairs on the landing overlooking the living room. She would always look at him before he would wake up, the sadness haunting Jacob well into the late morning hours.
The light flickered to life slowly then filled the room. The kitchen was a good size but had not had a makeover since the 1970s. The appliances were all avocado green with an orange flower backsplash to tie it all together. Jacob smiled, it always reminded him of his kitchen growing up. The kitchen led out to the dining room. Through the glow of the light from the kitchen, he could make out an odd shape on the glass door, a perfect handprint.
“Huh.” He said out loud to himself.
He started to walk over to the handprint, but before he got there, he stubbed his toe on a loose floorboard. Swearing under his breath, Jacob lifted up the rug and looked at the floor underneath. The nails holding the floor down in that section had come up making the floor slightly elevated. Sticking out from the hollow underneath was a piece of paper with handwritten music notes on it. Jacob pulled the board the rest of the way up revealing multiple pages of the music. Jacob looked it over; it looked old, the paper was yellow from years of being under the floor. Between the sheets of music, Jacob found a picture, a family standing in front of the same house from what looked to be about the 1960s. He stared at the photo and realized who he was looking at, the black haired girl from his dreams. As he looked up, he saw a message written above the handprint.
‘Listen’ it read.
“Listen to what?” He asked himself.
As if in response to his question Jacob started to hear a thumping noise from the second floor where the piano was. The footsteps made their way over to the center of the room, then stopped.
Music began to play.
“Hello?” Jacob shouted “You are trespassing here!”
The playing stopped, and the house stood still. Putting the photo and handwritten sheet music in his pocket, Jacob made his way up to the stairs to see what was causing all the commotion. Coming to the top of the landing, he turned the light on.The jet-black grand piano was illuminated. Scattered over the surface was Jacobs music and a dragon symbol that he assumed was the piano’s brand. Jacob pulled out the handwritten music and looked at it. There was nothing up there. Shrugging, he cracked his knuckles and began to play.
The music flowed from his fingers, he could hear the melody from the dream. As he reached the next line, he hit a note that fell flat. Testing the key a few times he realized that the note on the piano was out of tune.
“Damn.” He said to himself. “I’ll have to fix that tomorrow morning.”
He got up turned out the light and went back downstairs to the living room couch; he was currently in the process of renovating the bedrooms upstairs, so he had to sleep on the sofa. He clicked off the lamp and fell back to sleep.
Jacob awoke with a start again, glancing at his phone he realized he had only fallen back asleep for an hour. Sighing, he got up and made his way to the bathroom. As he rounded the corner into the bathroom just off the kitchen, he turned on the light. Pressed into the mirror was another hand print.
Moving closer to the mirror he paused, something about the print compelled him to place his own hand on top of it.
The floor upstairs began to creak again.
Jacob closed his eyes. “This is another dream.” He said. “This is another dream. Wake up dammit wake up.”
“Listen!” The voice shouted right next to his ear Jacob jumped and opened the bathroom door sprinting back to the couch.
“Who’s in here?!” He shouted “You need to leave!”
The piano began to play.
Jacob paused for a second not quite sure what he was hearing. Then he realized, it was the song from his dream, but not exactly the song, another part of it, one he hadn’t yet written.
“Who’s there?” Jacob shouted.
The music stopped. He heard footsteps moving across the upper part of the landing and books from the bookshelf being shuffled around. From his tool box, Jacob pulled out a crowbar and began to make his way slowly up the stairs.
“Listen.” He said. “I do not want to hurt you.”
As he reached the top he dropped the crowbar; it clattered on the floor. Sitting at the piano was the girl with black hair from his dream. She looked at him, with her sad eyes.
“W—who are you?” He asked
“Ann.” She said.
“Why are you here?”
“I live here,” Ann said then she looked away from him. “I am here forever.”
“I don’t understand.”
“All I ever wanted to do was finish the song,” Ann said from the chair. “Then you came and completed it.”
“You wrote that?” Jacob asked pointing to the music.
Ann nodded, she seemed to be getting fainter. From his pocket, Jacob pulled out a picture.
“What is this?” He asked it looked like a picture of Ann and her family.
“My mom, my brother and that, that’s my stepdad, he’s why I never got to finish it. I was here playing this song. He came up behind me, and the cord wrapped around.” She clutched her neck. “He was not a good man.”
“I’m sorry” Jacob said shivering, imagining what might have happened. “Why stay here, though? Why not move on?”
“I needed to complete it, the music, I was writing it for my mom, she was sick, I thought this would make her better.”
Jacob walked over and sat in the part of the chair where Ann wasn’t, he cracked his knuckles and began to play. This time it wasn’t a struggle to write the next part of the song. He knew exactly how the song should go. Ann stayed with him until the sun rose helping him write the song with her notes that he had found underneath the floor. Then the last part came, and he hit the key, the key that was out of tune. Jacob closed his eyes; he felt a kiss on his forehead.
“I promise I will always listen” He said.
Jacob opened his eyes again, Ann was gone. He had completed her song for her.
Outside through the living room it began to snow, lightly sticking to the ground. Jacob wrote in the last note, the flat note, Ann’s note. The snow fell outside, and Jacob began to play the song from the beginning. The windows began to fog up from the heat of the house to the snow outside. From the piano bench, Jacob could see down into the living room window, written across it where two words:
Story by: Caleb Schadeck
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