Once upon a time, not so long ago, two sisters journeyed with their mother to visit their great-aunt. The two girls entered the house, prepared to be as polite as their mother had trained them. Yet, one’s eyes widened, and the other one’s mouth gaped.
Only later did they dare exclaim, “Mama, we didn’t believe you!”
For everything was just as their mother had described. Gray dust tufts cluttered the corners. Their shoes felted more as they walked from the entryway into the parlor. There, they met their aging relative, a replica of her shabby home. One side of her collar stood higher than the other, which meant one tail of her blouse hung lower under her dingy skirt. The oldest girl wondered if a skilled spider could walk the rungs of the run in the right silk stocking. The youngest attempted to estimate the height of the dust layer on the mantle and decided on three inches. Their great-aunt indicated they should sit on the divan. They did, as lightly as possible. Even so, a cloud enveloped them and settled on their shoulders and laps like fluffy down.
The great-aunt waddled to the grand piano in the center of the room. She lifted the lid, sending an sooty avalanche drifting onto the floor, and lowered herself onto the bench. The oldest girl noticed first and poked her sister before pointing. The little one stifled a gasp with her hand.
Every key gleamed in the afternoon sun. They could almost see their reflections staring back at them.
Then, their great-aunt, their own mother’s piano teacher, began to play Chopin as only a famous concert pianist could.