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The last of the light trickles away but the aluminum siding of the house remains warm. The heat penetrates our jackets keeping at bay the fall chill while we wait. Finally my mother touches her fingers to the keys and slowly let’s loose the light footsteps of fairies and unrequited love. In these few moments a day I hear the love that is in my mother’s soul, even if she can’t share that love with me.

Quietly, underneath the music, my friend Carrie asks, “So, what does divorce mean then?”

“It means they will be happier.”

Or so I’ve been told. The repeat is coming to an end my mother is about to send fairies in black satin spinning, tulle skirts flaring and iridescent wings flashing.

“Yea, but what does that mean?” asks Carrie.

As they whirl in the air buoyed on currents of daydreams, I consider the question. I’m too young for this conversation and wish that my parents would stop insisting on being the first at things. The first to put their daughter in a nontraditional school, have unconventional jobs, want only one child, and now to divorce.

As the music slows I respond, “I’m staying with dad and the house.”

“Because of her eyes?” Carrie asks.

My mother has been diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease that is slowly darkening her vision. One tomorrow, years away, her world will exist completely in the dark. Though this is a source of her sorrow, it is not the only one and somehow an understanding is born on the wings of Beethoven. She sees herself as not leaving me behind but gifting me to the better parent. The parent that wants me, fights for me.

We are getting to the part where ogres come and chase the fairies with fang and claw, “No, because she’s starting from scratch.”

“Do they even let dads have kids without moms?” Carrie asks.

The fairies celebrate their unexpected victory by taunting the ogres, sprinkling them with dream dust. As my mother lifts her finger from the last note letting the padded hammer rest gently against the piano’s wire, a terrible fear fills my heart, and the fragile stolen love of a daughter for a distant mother goes as dark and chilly as the evening.

It is foreshadowing, warning and truth. None of us could have known the chaos my father would bring into his life and by extension my own, eventually rendering me an orphan of parents both living. And now a lifetime later I too spin fates,  transform lives and worlds with the powerful magic of pressing and lifting my fingers from keys of a different sort, but walking in her footsteps all the same.


Inspired by Write at the Merge’s prompt of the word orphan and the picture below.

This is actually a reworking of a piece that I wrote for RemembeRED over two years ago. The original piece was:  Treble and Bass.