As I placed my paws on the keyboard, I slowly closed my eyes and played one of my favorite pieces. The music flowed from my fingertips into the piano as I played. Being a Zafara, I was one of the few neopets that had opposable thumbs, and I was glad I was born like this. If I wasn’t, I couldn’t have played piano. I hit each key precisely as my foot tapped in rhythm.
Yes, piano was my favorite instrument. It’s the only instrument that expresses so much feeling by a touch of a key. Pressing deeply, but slowly gives a sad, longing sound, and pressing light taps gives a sly, tip-toe like sound. You could play piano in any type of music, jazz, rock, country, you name it. That’s why I adored the piano; playing piano was my life. I didn’t know what I’d do without piano or what I’d be if there was no piano, but I didn’t care and tried not to think about it. I was just happy piano was here, right now.
I finished the song with a diminuendo, where I started to play more softly until the sounds disappeared. I opened my eyes to a clapping audience consisting of my little brother, Theo. He clapped wildly as if he was in a real concert. I sighed. I wish I had other people to share my talent with, but I wasn't popular amongst my neighborhood. I gave a small bow. My brother saw the frown on my face and stopped clapping.
“Sam, what’s wrong?” he asked. I looked into his big eyes. His fur was blue, but his eyes were a deep shade of green.
I smiled weakly and replied, “Oh, nothing. It’s just that I want more people to listen to my music.”
Then he started hopping up and down. My little brother was the hyper type of guy who burned off all of his energy quickly. Every move he made was full of energy and power. Maybe he should be an electric Zafara, I thought.
“I know what would cheer you up! A walk around the block! It won’t take long and it’ll make you feel better! Come on, sis!” He looked excited to go out, so I pretty much had to follow. He was not the type to argue with, and he usually won. As we walked outside, my white fur shone in the sunlight. I held my brother’s little paw in mine and we walked for a while. My neighborhood was so peaceful... The sun was warm, the grass was rolling, the trees were whispering. I passed by a roster that had a picture with a piano on it. I took a glance. It said:
On the 7th of the month of Relaxing
Use any Piece!
Sign up on this sheet!
Prizes are awarded!
I checked the address. I smiled widely at Theo. He smiled back. I quickly signed my name at the bottom of the sheet and ran off, dragging my brother behind. “Theo! Other people are going to listen to me! Just wait until they hear me, I’ll win the prize!” Then I went into an abrupt halt. Today was the 30th Day on the month of Hunting. There was only eight days to get ready for the competition. My brother had a confused face. I shook my head. I could still do this; I could, and it wouldn’t be that hard... My brother and I walked home slowly, the clouds following us as we kept on going.
I picked my favorite piece by a Zafara himself. It was called Silent Rain with a beautiful but sad tone to it. I thought of it as a great song, but not too hard. As I went to show my brother, he wasn’t as jumpy as usual. I showed him the piece excitedly; he held a big smile and tried to cheer, but he started to cough. His blue fur was a little paler...
“Are you okay?” I asked. He nodded his head quickly.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired,” he replied.
I looked at him strangely. “Okay, if you say so. Just don’t push yourself too much.”
He slowly nodded and walked into his room. I then started to practice the music. I could get only some of it. I guessed that I’d have to practice more. I practiced until the light outside was dark and Theo was sleeping. I had already done two pages. A few more to go. I didn’t get the rhythm right, but I could hit each note correctly. I sighed. I closed the piano and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to coughing. I ran over to Theo, finding him coughing hard. I quickly gave him some warm water and he drank it in large gulps.
“Are you okay?” I asked. Theo slowly nodded his head.
“I think so,” he replied. I noticed that his voice was scratchy, not the usual high hyper voice.
“You should stay in bed. I’ll call the doctor,” I said. I mailed Dr. Tyler; he lived around our neighborhood. After I sent the neomail, I told Theo, “If you are sick, I’ll help take care of you.”
He shook his head no, but so slowly that it was like he was half asleep. Where did my brother’s energy go?
“You have to practice your piece,” he replied. Then he started coughing again.
I almost forgot about the competition. I sadly glanced at the piano. I guessed practice had to wait. The doctor knocked on the door. I opened the door and let him in, his office smell fresh.
“So where is lil’ Theo?” he asked. I showed him the room, and Theo was in the bed, not looking any better. Dr. Tyler then examined Theo. He checked his tongue. He checked his throat for any swelling. After a few minutes of checking Theo, he finally said, “Your little brother seems to have a case of Kikoughela. You would need to cure him with Kikoughela Syrup. Sadly the pharmacy ran out a while ago, and the shipping won’t come until about ten days.” He packed up his things. “I hope you could take care of him for that long. He just might as well help fight the disease himself. It’s not that serious. It might take about two weeks, though, but by then the Kikoughela Syrup would have appeared in the pharmacy.” He patted my head and then walked out. I glanced at Theo, I had to take care of him, but I also wanted to show everyone that I could play piano.
“It's okay, sis,” Theo managed to say. “You could still play piano. I could take care of myself.” He coughed then drifted into sleep.
I walked over to the piano and tried to practice, but my fingers kept on stiffening. I kept thinking of Theo.
The days passed as Theo tried hard to fight the Kikoughela. Every time he coughed, he cringed in pain. It tore my heart to pieces every time I saw him like this. I kept practicing piano and got fairly good at Silent Rain. I didn’t miss notes much at all and I got the rhythm perfected. The dynamics were placed precisely where they were supposed to be. But Theo wasn’t looking so good.
The day of the competition came suddenly, and I felt unprepared. Sometimes I missed a key and sometimes I forgot to slow down or something. Theo was still sick, and I wondered if I should stay home.
“Sam, just go. I’m alright,” Theo moaned in bed. I kissed Theo’s forehead and went to the door, Theo’s coughing ripping another piece of my heart. All of a sudden I didn’t want to leave. My longing to take care of Theo took over. I couldn’t leave him behind in this state.
“I’m not leaving you. Not when you’re like this. I’m staying,” I said, walking back into his room. Theo shook his head violently, his green eyes shining.
“No! You should go! You were practicing all this time! Are you going to practice all that for nothing?” he asked. I glanced over to my piano.
“But I didn’t do it for nothing,” I replied. The clock ticked.
“Sis. You’re going to be late!” Theo argued.
“I don’t care anymore,” I replied. “I’m staying and that’s final!”
Theo was about to speak, but then he coughed. His eyes squeezed shut and his body trembled.
“Now rest. There’s no point arguing when I’m not going anywhere,” I whispered, tucking in Theo’s blankets. He gave up, falling asleep. I watched him breathe, his chest rising up and down. I sighed. What made me want to stay? I always wanted others to know of my talent, why?
I walked over to my piano, the black cover lifted by my paw. The keys gleaming in the light. I sat down on the chair, my feet tapping in rhythm. I started to play the song. How it was sad in the beginning, like a longing sad sound, like how I used to want others to hear my talent. Then it got even sadder like something had happened. Like how my brother got sick. My fingers danced like ballerinas. They pressed deeply into the keys, and then released so slowly.
The ending became a little happier, like something good happened, but not enough to quench the thirst of the desire. I then realized why I didn’t want to leave. My brother was there by my side the whole time. He was there for me, unlike other people. Why in the world would I care for their thoughts? My brother was and would always be the one who would listen to my music, and that was okay since he was the whole world to me. I turned around to find my brother holding his blanket, looking with those big green eyes of his. I ran over to hug him. He seemed startled, but hugged back.
“That was the best one yet,” he whispered near my ear. That was all the words I needed to hear, and only from my little brother.