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words or whispers by asterisksceptor

Misc- Literature by Etherland

Poetry and Prose by alien-cookies


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April 5, 2008
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I remember when we got our first piano. It was a black upright. Not exactly gorgeous, but definitely a nice instrument. I was really excited to get my hands on the thing, but dad wasn’t too, um, keen on the idea -- "Keen"? Really? I say things like that sometimes even though I know they sound lame. What can you do, though? I didn’t have my first piano lesson until a few days later. Sounds of tinkling piano keys filled the room. Bassy notes caused the whole foundation to shake. It was a thing of beauty. It really was. Best part: It was me. I was playing it. My hands couldn’t throw a ball with any sort of accuracy at all, and I was picked on for it bad, but damn could they play a piano! I mean really! Just… damn!

That was, what -- like, five years ago? Yeah, I was about eight at the time, so, like, five years ago. So here I am, five years after I started playing the thing, and I’m still going. In fact, I’ve got a recital tonight. That’s why I’m all dressed up, see. My instructor tells me I have to be presentable, you know? Seriously, though, like, when am I not presentable? I don’t make it a point to dirty myself up or anything. I think she means I should be more than presentable, you know what I mean? Like, gussied up or something. Damn, I’m lame to even say that. “Gussied up” of all things. I dunno, I just think when someone tells you something, they should say what they mean. I mean, if she tells me to look presentable, I’ll look presentable. Then again, my idea of “presentable” is undoubtedly different than hers. However, if she were to say to me, “My boy, you’ve a recital this evening. Dress for the occasion: coat and tie and all that, you know -- tuxedo, if you have it. You must look distinguished!” Conversations in my mind sound like that, by the way. Sometimes the speakers even have British accents. Not sure what that’s about. Anyway, I’d ask her, “Perhaps you mean ‘distinguishable’? In that case, I’ve a few ideas of my own!” You know, just to get a laugh or something… or just to be a jerk. You know, whatever I was feeling at the time. My instructor’s one of those old-timers, though -- “Old-timers,” wow… -- and isn’t afraid to hit a kid. I’ve never been too thrilled about getting smacked in the teeth, though, so in the end I’d probably just end up enacting the event in my mind. Face it, it’s funnier that way. You know, what with avoiding child abuse and all.

Despite having to look, um, “presentable,” I am allowed to wear my favorite hat. One of those knit little numbers -- “Little numbers”? Who am I? -- a beany, a skullcap, a toque. I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway, that’s the one less-than-classy thing I’m allowed to wear. You know what? That really is fine with me. I have this nice blazer to wear to these sort of things. It’s black, and I hear that it’s quite indistinguishable from something fancier -- you know, if you have bad eyes or squint a little bit. You know, speaking of my hat, I’m on in less than twenty minutes and I have no idea where the damn thing is.

I guess what I didn’t mention is that I was wearing that hat when I first learned to play piano. Yeah, it was big on me, and yeah, it’s absolutely filthy now. Seriously, I’ve never washed the thing. The fact of the matter is, I need it to play. It must be covered in gnome dust or leprechaun dust or fairy dust or something. You know, whatever it is that has magic dust. My point being, the thing’s lucky. What really gets me is whenever I lose  the thing -- hell, I’ve never lost it, it just gets misplaced -- whenever I misplace the thing, mom gets on my case right away. “If it’s so lucky, then how’d you lose it in the first place?” Ha-ha, mom, you’re hilarious. Really. She gets a big kick out of it, too. Anyway, my point: I’ve got -- damn -- like, fifteen minutes to find the thing. Hell.

After about, like, fifteen hours, I finally run into my mom. She’s talking with the parents of some of the other kids that’re playing tonight. I think some of those piano moms really are just the worst sort of people. I mean, really. I’ve talked to a lot of the other kids, and most of them really don’t want to be here. Still, you know, their parents are really just trying to get their kids to do the things they never did themselves when they were young. It’s pretty awful, if you ask me. Then, to top it off, they’re always bragging about what pieces their kids are working on. I don’t know about everyone else, but it really doesn’t impress me that your little Johnny is learning a piece by Mozart. I mean, they really are the same pieces everyone else learns. It’s not as big a deal as they make it out to be. Besides, it’s not a contest. Sure, I guess that’s the kind of thing a loser would say, but I actually am pretty good. Not a loser at least.

So anyway, mom’s talking to one of those awful piano moms and she doesn’t pay any attention to me when I call her name. Basically what I do in situations like this is I kick at her feet a little bit. I imagine it’s annoying as hell, and that’s probably why it works. Eventually she excuses herself from the conversation to pay attention to me. She’s not happy about it and kinda yells at me, but you can only yell so loud at one of these functions without coming off as crazy -- you know, or abusive. “I can’t find my hat,” I tell her. She opens her mouth like she’s about to make her dumb joke, and I put my hand up and say, “No. Ten minutes until show time and I’m seriously hatless.” She gives me one of those looks, like “so what.” I don’t think she ever really grasped the concept of a magic hat. It’s simple, really. She didn’t get it, though. “C’mon, mom!” She just shrugs a little bit. “We must have left it at home. You’ll have to go without it because there’s no time to go home.”

So that’s it, then. I’m on in less than ten and my hat’s MIA. I wonder if it’s too late to call my performance off for the night -- or, like, go to Walla Walla. That sounds like a pleasant enough place. Also sounds like a place where they don’t make you play piano without your hat. “Is something wrong? Stand up straight,” my instructor says from behind me as she puts her hand on my shoulder. She’s this gangly old lady with creepy long fingers. They’re the kind of fingers that are good for playing piano but really get in the way of everything else. “I left my hat at home.” I’m pretty sure she never even realized that I wore the thing to every lesson and every recital prior to this one. She gives me the same damn “so what” look that my mom gave me. “I can’t play without it. Seriously.” Her head nods and she smiles, like she really knows what I mean. “Listen,” she says, “did Dumbo need that feather to fly? No. He was able to fly all on his own.” It’s a seriously lame thing to relate my situation to, but she doesn‘t let up so quickly once she gets going. “You don’t need your hat to play piano. You’ve got all the skills you need within yourself.” God, what a dumb thing to say. Still, she might be right. Maybe I really don’t need the hat. I mean, I took all the lessons. I’ve gotta know a thing or two. “Break a leg.”

So I get out on stage, sit on the bench, and open up my music. Suddenly, I feel like I really can do this! Confidence just flows through my body and I feel awesome! I position my hands, take a quick look over the music, and take a deep breath.

They say that when you get older you’ll look back on certain things and laugh. It’s been fifty years since that performance, and I’m still playing piano. I’m pretty sure I always will be. Still, I’ve never been able to look back on that night and have a laugh about it. Every time I think about it, I just shake my head a little bit. God, that night, I was damn awful.
I was in the car and thought, "Piano hat." I immediately asked myself, "What's a piano hat?"

It seems I've answered my question.


On a technical note, I may hop around tense-wise. It needs some editing, I'm sure.


EDIT: Huh. A daily thinger. Cool. I rather like the influx of messages in my inbox.

Um, so, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for favoriting. Read some of my other stuff, if you feel like it. Most of it's better, I swear.

Thanks to :iconplatinus: for the feature. Also, thank you, April 1st, I'm pretty sure your arrival is what made this possible.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2009-04-01
Ask yourself, "What is a Piano Hat?"Piano Hat by ~Panzyo Explains what it is in a Catcher in the Rye type of way. A great narrative about how a security blanket isn't always a blanket. ( Featured by Platinus )
:iconshyvampiress1997:
shyvampiress1997 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this. I've lost a hat recently, my favorite sock hat, and we moved beforeI found it. I need a new one before winter. Anyway, love the story. :heart:
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:iconcolorfulharmony:
coLoRFuLhARmoNy Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011   Digital Artist
this is great!
this story actually made remember many things from past when i didn't like playing the piano.(although i love it now)
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:iconscarlet-pikachu:
scarlet-pikachu Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010
This is a piano hat! :XD: Great idea though, so moving.
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:iconlepatriinu123:
Lepatriinu123 Featured By Owner May 18, 2010
I'm not usually very interested in the literature part of dA, but this really touched me. It is a very heartwarming story, especially because I know how it is when you are just about to get on the stage, but are worrying about something, but then it actually turns out well.
Also, I featured this here: [link]
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:iconlucascaps:
LucasCAPS Featured By Owner May 28, 2009   Writer
That was actually pretty good!

It really feels like a diary written by a thirteen-year-old, except for the correct grammar, hahaha.

And the end is, um... interesting. :D

You're gonna modify this? I mean, it's published. Oh, well, dA does give that opportunity of eternal editing. I only modify my deviations for corrections. It happened only once so far.
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:iconravenxwriter:
ravenxwriter Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
I want to eat this story, I kid you not. It would be a really wholesome, hardy thing to eat. Good job.
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:iconzefiraelrain:
zefiraelRain Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmm, that's pretty good. maybe the paragraphs could be a bit shorter though, those long ones... but nice work.
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:iconchocoboracer:
ChocoboRacer Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, a truly amazing story. I loved every minute of it. :+fav:
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:iconxpalewingsx:
xpalewingsx Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
I know that everybody's comparing this to Catcher in the Rye, but it really does relate. Although, your main character isn't as cynical as Holden...

I love this. Partially because I love my piano. Mostly because I like Dumbo.
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:iconaridax:
Aridax Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student Digital Artist
I just have to admit, I love this. xD

Not only can I relate to this as a piano student, but as a person, the train of thought really connects with the reader. Thanks for the awesome read!
Reply
:iconkindfullove12:
kindfullove12 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student General Artist
This was very good O_O Well another Urban Word added to the Urban Dictionary: Piano hat haha
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:iconskruffie:
Skruffie Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student Digital Artist
That was a lovely and amusing read. :D I've felt that way about a hat - my fedora - but it wasn't just for piano playing.. the hat had been mine for four years and I wore it almost all the time when I left the house and now the stupid thing is lost. Lots of memories with that hat..

Anyway, it sounds like this piano player would be a fun guy to hang around and just listen to him play and tell stories.
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:iconneshomeh:
Neshomeh Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It isn't that you hop tenses, really, but that you lose track of how old your narrator is. Until the very last paragraph, it sounds like the narrator is talking about something that happened last weekend. Then you introduce the "it's been fifty years," and the odd little turns of phrase the narrator uses make sense, which I like, but it makes the rest of the narrative sound sort of like a mid-life crisis--like the narrator is trying to be a teenager again, but we all know he's really balding and will never, ever fit into those tight jeans.

If you want to edit the piece, I'd recommend keeping the narrator young. The age doesn't matter; it's the fact that the performance sucked that provides the kick at the end. You can keep the line about looking back on things and laughing, but lose the fifty years.

On the other hand, if you really want to keep the fifty years, I think the story would work better in past tense, and you should keep the narrative consistent with an older person's voice. Let the dialogue in quotation marks sound like a young person's voice, but not the narrative. Like I said, there's no way those jeans are ever going to fit again, and neither will the teen-speak. You'd have to lose some of the little asides about the word-choice, too. To me, they make the narrator sound unreliable. That's okay for a young narrator, who wouldn't necessarily be comfortable with his identity yet, but not so much for an older narrator.

That said, this was a nice break from academic writing. Congratulations on the DD. {= )
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:iconpanzyo:
Panzyo Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
The final paragraph is supposed to be more of a time lapse, really. It's not so much "That was then, this is now," as it is "This is now, and this is now but some time has passed." The numbers are really pretty arbitrary, too.

I was shooting for the unreliable thing. He tells a story pretty similarly to how I tell stories, and I'm pretty much the most unreliable person I know.

It's not exactly structured incredibly well, I realize. I mean, if I were choosing something of mine to be featured, it probably wouldn't be this.

But wow, no, wow, I can definitely appreciate a proper comment like this. Like, I'm not sure if that explanation really changes your thoughts on it or if it even explained anything, but thank you for the critique.
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:iconneshomeh:
Neshomeh Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, I see what you're getting at with the time lapse. That's a cool idea. Maybe you could find a way to make it clearer if you do something similar in the future, like a divider or double line-break or something.

Good work on the characterization, since I got what you intended for the guy.

You're welcome. {= )
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:iconbymorgoth:
bymorgoth Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student General Artist
This really speaks to me. :) I've played piano for ten years and I still hate dressing up for performances.

I like the style you used, too. Very easy, very conversational. Like you're really talking to the kid. It's perfect for the kind of piece this is.
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:iconorangemonkey42:
OrangeMonkey42 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Haha that was really good man, well worth the Daily Deviation, I liked how you kept commenting on your own diction.
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:iconthecrowchild:
thecrowchild Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
i spotted a random french apostrophe (it points the other way) :)
i like your styyylee
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:iconariadnearca:
AriadneArca Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
"God, that night, I was damn awful."

Haha! What an awesome way to end. I love the way you've handled the narrative - just the right amount of off-topic rambling without boring the reader. I can really hear the voice of the pianist. Congratulations, this is very deserving of the DD! :clap:
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:iconharlequin-x-romance:
harlequin-x-romance Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student Writer
i love it, i've actuallly been in a situation like that before :P
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:iconcaptainquirk:
CaptainQuirk Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
:D Really nice job writing in the voice of a young person.
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:iconmoogleybacon:
MoogleyBacon Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
Walla Walla? Washington shout-out FTW! :D (Unless there's a Walla Walla somewhere else I don't know about. >.> )

Anyways... good piece, really! I love the concept of a "piano hat". Safety blankets really do come in all shapes and sizes. XD
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:iconweet-weet:
Weet-weet Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I found this because it was a DD and wanted to see what it was about. Left me smiling.. I was really wondering how could a 13 years old kid write this and felt jealous for a bit.. Still am, because you have a nice way of writing.
And I will read your other writings, just to check if they're better.
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:icon22417004906905:
22417004906905 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
Wow, definately interesting. =D
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:iconmisakithegorelover:
MisakiTheGoreLover Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
Simply amazing an involving!
I personally think that is very well wrote.
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:iconpetulantreflection:
PetulantReflection Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This just made my day incredibly brighter. Love the interjections of thought within thought. Sounds a whole lot like my own head.
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:iconoh-my-goat:
oh-my-goat Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
That is amazing. You are amazing. :worship:
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:iconphotographybychilb:
PhotographyByChilb Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
Loved it. Gave me a laugh, very enjoyable read. Worth the DD
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:iconsungreen777:
SunGreen777 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student Digital Artist
I love the way the story flows :D It's actually my favorite thing I've read in a while^^
Very nicely done!
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:iconshade909:
Shade909 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009   Writer
congrats on the DD, i loved reading it =]

and i doubt the tense mistakes will be that noticable if you dont bring peoples attenjtion to them, i honestly didnt notice any till you said so in your author comment and i re-read it.

anyway, good stuff =]
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:icondarcknyt:
DarcKnyt Featured By Owner May 9, 2008
This is really good. I don't think it needs editing at all, frankly. It reads so much in the vein of Catcher in the Rye.

This was very well done. Bravo, author!
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:iconpanzyo:
Panzyo Featured By Owner May 9, 2008
Yeah, I had just re-read Catcher in the Rye a week or so prior to writing this. I really like the idea of having the narration written the way your average person normally speaks.

Thanks for the comment.
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:icondarcknyt:
DarcKnyt Featured By Owner May 10, 2008
It's something I shoot for too. That book really is an inspiration from that perspective.
Reply
:iconorimis:
Orimis Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2008  Student Writer
Bonjour, Monsieur. It's been a while. :]

I just loved this. The character really shows through in the narrative. I love the diction you used--loved the conversational vibe that came off the whole thing.

I saw few tense-change errors, and, if anything, I felt that they added to that conversational vibe. I felt like this man was in front of me, telling me a story. We all make small mistakes when we recite our little anecdotes.

And the conclusion...hehe.

Keep writing, please.
Your prose is like candy to me.
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:iconpanzyo:
Panzyo Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2008
Hahah. Thank you very much.

I've never really written in the present tense, so I'm still getting used to it. Glad it turned out alright, though.

Again, thank you very much. : P
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