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19 December 2010 @ 12:21 pm
Edited 2: Yours and Mine  
Vocabulary Word: inure

I was five when I discovered my aunt's piano. I sat down in front of it and banged out a melody known only to my ears. Mozart had to have been turning in his grave as I proclaimed it good with a smile full of gaps. Yet Aunt Tiny had hung in the doorway, a patient smile on her face. She never cringed as I hit all the wrong notes and abused the minor, my legs too short to touch the pedals. But I didn't care and she didn't care and the world made sense.

I stopped and smiled at her when I heard her laugh. I think maybe I had the tip of my tongue out, clenched between my lips in concentration. Aunt Tiny had come over and patted my head, playing with the dull strands. Her countenance full of nothing but adoration.

"One day you'll be a fine pianist."

I scrunched my face up at her. "What's that?"

Her patient love never faded, though. "Someone who plays the piano." As I turned the new word over in my mind, her mind slipped away. "One day, when I die, this will be yours."

"But why would you die?" My face had once again scrunched, this time from sadness not confusion. I had no idea as to why she would say such a thing; she was my Aunt Tiny and family never died. They never went away for forever--that was just silly. Though I had thought she was being silly as grown-ups were wont to be, it hurt.

She gave my head one last pat before walking away. "Everyone does."

I wish she had known that my fingers were too short for me to be a pianist. And that I didn't need a piano.

When I was fifteen, I poured my attention into National Geographics and ancient civilizations. I hoarded languages and words, refusing the attention of family. I had figured that artifacts and cold jewelry were much better than people: they could not talk, they could not judge, they could not lie. And so I coveted what could never love me back.

Aunt Tiny never stopped smiling, patient with my seclusion. She was much older, though I never realized it. Aunt Tiny was Aunt Tiny, unmovable even for old age. And instead, she fed my obsession.

Without a second thought as to the value of her treasures, she pulled me aside and cradled an ornate box out of her drawer. Inside was a hoarder's delight--jade and gold, garnet and silver, fair alexandrite... As I eyed her treasure with wondrous eyes, she eyed me with calm affection.

My hands had twitched with a desire to touch, yet she placed her soft, wrinkled hands on mine. With a smile purely hers, she told me. "One day, when I die, this will be yours."

Having heard this for years that it turned to a dull ache, I swallowed past the emotion and pasted on a smile. "Then I'll have a while to wait, aunty!"

She gave my hand one last pat before disappearing to hide it away again. "Maybe, maybe not. Life's a mystery, dear."

I wish she had known that it was nothing more than a phase I was going through. Life's mysteries and ancient civilizations weren't meant to be excavated by me.

At twenty-five, Aunt Tiny died. I was away on a different continent teaching students barely younger than me a second language.

An envelope arrived to tell me the news; there was no phone call, no letter from friends or family. Such was what my life had become. In it detailed the piano, the jewelry, the artifacts of a life not mine that were to be mine as she had told me throughout my life. It was now mine, not hers. The words were cold and familiar, unable to dredge up more than a lump of sadness in my throat that refused to dislodge. She had done well inuring me to her death. She knew me too well, knowing I would cry myself to death and back had she not--my personality and all.

Yet the tears came when I pulled out a book, the very first one I had written that I had given her. In the front cover I had written her, "And this is yours, Aunty."
Current Location: Beside the Ocean
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
wsdantewsdante on August 17th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
You have such a gift for description that my admiration simply swamps my jealousy. *sigh*