I was walking on the sidewalk when my beanie was blown off by the wind. There were several thunder-clouds, just outside of town, dark and heavy, that were riding the breeze in quickly. They crackled and growled, warning us that yes, they would soon be lit by strikes overhead, lighting the sky up – a smoky blue. Anybody and everybody who was outside was huddled underneath their coats, running to wherever they may be going post-haste, their hair blowing in all directions. It was then that a light sprinkle began, and remained, for the next thirty minutes, before I saw something glowing out of my right peripheral. It came from a large window pane. I saw it behind the words that had been painted on this glass pane: Gifts of the Mystic. The object’s brightness wasn’t even subdued by the gray weather; its red aura leered at me. I stopped at once and turned my head. I didn’t yet turn my body toward it, due to an innate distrust of the object. It was too enticing, too enchanting, too . . . strange. It was somehow shiny and matte at the same time; and it was speaking to me without words, with a telepathic invitation. It was a small red children’s piano, modeled after a grand piano. I was finally turned toward it, glaring into the store. It was complete chaos, unorganized, littered with all kinds of clutter. From wooden antiques to book and vintage tools; there were things everywhere: on the walls and in the corners, hung up against the glass and even on the ceiling. But out of everything in that store, the red children’s piano was the object that invited me in. So through the doors I went. One thing that made an impression: an antique typewriter glued upside down to the ceiling of the store. I went for the piano. I picked it up and analyzed it before playing any kind of note. It felt right in the hands, like it would allow someone deaf, dumb, and blind who’d never played the piano before to learn it in instantaneous speed. I made my hands into a c-sharp and gently caressed the keys of the keyboard—and out it sang. A high-pitched ring that was neither elegant nor dull. I thought of Lila, her mentioning to me once of her little sister who was little, and that little sister. Then I thought damn, I need to become a man again and have some other thoughts. She was like a fly in my spider-web of a brain. Caught and stuck there. With nowhere to go. I was succumbed to love; I was a fool for love; I was in love. And when in love there are not many things that force you to not think of your love, or loved one. You see them everywhere, in everything. I looked for a price tag and there wasn’t one. I looked for a clerk and there wasn’t one. I left with it in my hands, and an inclination in my head that I would return someday soon to pay.
On my walk home through the light drizzle, I welcomed the dark clouds; they began to turn black with rage. How unbecoming, to behave that way to someone who is welcoming you. It was on this walk home that I thought about how it might go with Lila. I would have to tell her I got her little sister a gift, for I didn’t see her a lot, and I didn’t want the damn thing for myself. I looked at it. Well, maybe I did. No. No, it was for the sister. Come on in, I told the clouds. Get wetter, I told the rain. I want to tell you how I think, or hope it may go, this little giving of a gift to Lila’s little sister. Don’t be shy. Would you like a drink, clouds? No? How about you then, rain? Perhaps some tea? Shall I get you a towel, rain? And some tall prong or antenna for you to playfully strike, thunder-clouds? Well fuck it. Just have a seat and listen to my tale of how I think and hope it may go with Lila’s little sister’s gift that I give to her:
She responds to my messages gleefully and with adoration, for I’ve gotten her little sister a gift. This, in turn, makes my heart content. So content it is, growing within me like a fire. An evenly stoked and well-prepared fire on a winter’s night. I drive over and on my way I hit every green light. Walkers on the sidewalk smile and wave, “Go get her boy.” They tell me. “I love your love.” They say. Construction crews in detour lanes hold up the ‘stop’ sign but as they see me coming they turn the sign to “Slow” and wave me through, smiling. “She’s gonna love it, buddy boy.” They tell me. I walk up to the door with the piano behind my back and I knock, growing anxious and excited at the same time. I look at the little potted plant beside her parent’s door— she lives with her parents— and I wonder if the pot which resides the potted plant has been there all along. Has it bore witness to Lila’s upbringing? Her running outside and playing in the grass, picking up the flowers and pulling at their little petals? He loves me, he loves me not. The petals floating away in the breeze never to be seen again. Has it seen her smile grow as her soul expands? Has it witnessed her fashionable style and wonderful allure burst through the roof, so fucking beautiful and soulful that God himself couldn’t muster up a sentence if she were to walk through the pearly gates and straight into his room? Has the potted plant seen her throughout all these years? I envy the potted plant. I want to kick it to oblivion. Damn you, potted plant. You’ve probably seen all this, haven’t you? And what have you to say about it? What have you done about it? You just sit there, potted plant. You’re disgraceful. If I had seen all what it had seen, I’d have shattered myself out of sheer joy. The door opens just then, and Lila is standing there smiling and my heart shatters in the same way I would have if I were the potted plant. We hug and we smile and we go inside into the living room where her little sister is sitting on the couch. There is a large brown piano in the room. I look at it and wonder if the red piano and the large brown piano have ever met before. Maybe in another lifetime, perhaps. I look at her little sister on the couch smiling and playing with her feet and I smile too because she looks so much like Lila. And I’m so happy just to be in the same room as the two. I pull out the little red piano from behind my back and give it to her. I tell her I’m . . . friends with Lila, and it both pains me and gives me joy to say this because I love Lila more than a friend but would rather be her friend that nothing. I tell her my name and that it’s so nice to meet her. She smiles and runs off into the other room to play with it because she’s a little girl and she’s bashful and intelligent and wants to get to know the new toy. I turn to Lila, who is now seated on the couch too. I am still standing, looking around and smiling at everything, especially the air, because it’s this day: March 16th that this is happening. It’s several days from now. It’s five days from now—March 11th. And it’s happening, and it’s going so well, and there is more to happen:
Lila looks so good in this lighting. The weather is coming in through the window and making her shine. She looks good in all lighting.
“How is work?” I ask. “How are your thoughts, hopes dreams?” I ask. “It’s been a month since I’ve seen you.” I say. “A quiet month. How was Joshua Tree?” I ask. “Are you excited about your upcoming trip to Thailand?” I ask. “Your birthday? Guess what I did for my last birthday, two years ago? Never mind, doesn’t matter.” I say. “Are you still thinking of San Francisco and fashion school? How is work?” I ask again. And she laughs because it’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. She makes me ridiculous. And then she answers all these questions.
She tells me she is doing okay, still hurting from her recent break up but she is getting better. She says that Joshua Tree was just fine, very fun; in fact, she got a few photos— model-type photos while she was out there and she pulls out her phone to show me and I begin melting. I melt as the candle melts underneath the flame on her counter. It’s a lilac smell, a lilac candle smell for Lila. Makes sense, yes it does. I tell her: how could anyone look like that? And she smiles, and she thanks me for getting and bringing the gift to her sister. She tells me I’m nice. I go to kiss her and she pulls away. Not now, she tells me. She tells me she is excited for Thailand and her birthday, and I lick my lips and rub my hands together thinking of gift ideas, surprises and the sort. Yes, I think rubbing my hands, yes. Work is good, she says, boring. She’s still dreaming of dealing with fashion in San Francisco, and I’m sitting there beside her dreaming of her dream of that. I’m also dreaming of the both of us, running up to her room to make love. A long, passionate session of making love. We’d bring the candle. It’d melt beside me melting still. The wet rain from outside would get in through her ceiling and she’d be wet too. She’d be wet and I would be melting. We would be one. And I would have the little red piano to thank for that. I would have to go back to that store, Gifts of the Mystic, and give them all the money in the damn world.
Kyle Perdue is a writer from Carlsbad, CA. He enjoys the outdoors, baths, playing music, and traveling. His favorite day is Sunday and he loves red apples. Kyle believes in fate and laughs at all of the unknown mysteries of the universe. He likes to drink and write about the things that surround him; he enjoys writing about love most of all. He does not know what he wants to do with his life, but he is of the belief that nobody does and as long as he can write, he will be content.
He wants to convey: Tell the people you love that you love them everyday. Even if it hurts. Try and cherish the little things: a smile, a gesture, the way her voice cracked. Cherish these things and never let them go. Love is never worth losing.
Athena Tan edited and shot images of Vanitha and the props they used.