They were just finishing their patrol. The search radius had nearly been covered, and it was almost dawn. Jorgi’s sergeant was determined that their squad would be the one to apprehend the criminal, so when they came upon the abandoned house, there was nothing to do but scour every corner.
“The criminal could be anywhere!” the sergeant thundered. “Move every piece of furniture, leave no area unsearched!”
The obedient troops moved sofas and tables, chairs and lamps, but there was no sign of habitation. The sergeant, however, wasn’t about to give up. He became convinced that there was a secret hiding nook somewhere in the house, and that he and his men were going to find it. They looked in the kitchen cupboards. They looked in the dank cellar. They looked in the parlor and the bedrooms.
Finally, there was only one stone left unturned. Jorgi and his fellows crowded around the piano. “Take it out! Move it outside!” the sergeant barked.
“Careful,” Jorgi cautioned as he and another private hefted the handsome upright into their arms and slowly made their way outside. Before his military service, Jorgi’s life was pianos. Moving them, tuning them, making them shine again. He and his brothers had been the best men in the province for a job like that.
So when Jorgi’s colleague plopped his end down on the unforgiving half-frozen ground, Jorgi did not immediately return to the house. He allowed his fingers to linger on the keys.
|Writing Prompt #171|
For a neglected instrument, the piano had not decayed much. Sure, it could have used a tune-up, but Jorgi did not think that his sergeant would grant him the time it would take for such a task. With a cringe, he realized that the piano would most likely stay where it was once they finished their search.
Without knowing it, Jorgi had begun to coax a tune out of the black and whites, an old duet that he used to play with his sister. His part was on the left side of the keyboard, the lower keys, and she had played on the right side, a tinkling melody that he could hear in his memory. He could almost see her there, her eyes dancing as she laughed, urging Jorgi to play faster, to see if he could keep up with her playing.
Jorgi knew he was far away from home, alone in a forest clearing in a dreary March dawn, toting a deadly weapon and following the orders of a glory-seeking sergeant, but for one moment, he felt as though he were in his mother’s comfortable parlor, being warmed by the nearby fire, surrounded by the people he loved best.
A shout from one of his fellow soldiers brought him back to the present. He closed the lid on the keys regretfully, turning back to the rest of his squad and the task at hand.
And that was when he saw her.
A girl younger than his sister, barely dressed warmly enough for the weather, leaning on a tree near the side of the house. As he watched, she pulled a thin shawl over her head. She glanced at the house and then back at Jorgi.
“It has been a long time since I have heard any music,” he heard her whisper. “Thank you.”
And then she disappeared into the trees.
“Oi, you!” came the sergeant’s shout from the porch. “Find anything out there?”
Jorgi did not know what to do. Surely that girl could not be a dangerous criminal… could she?
“I… no, sir,” he replied, throwing in a salute for good measure, as he saw that the sergeant’s patience was running low. “I haven’t found anything.”