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October 31, 2003            

Dear John,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good health; I have missed you greatly and thought of you often, my dear son. I regret to inform you that his letter does not bring with it good tidings, but rather is a notice of my death, and with it a request that can only be fulfilled by you.

Remember when you were young and we would travel to the great halls to listen to your father play his piano? His hands would caress the keys the way a mother caresses her newborn child. He was a maestro, an absolute master of the keys and we would sit intensely admiring his talent. We were surrounded by talent in those days, Uncle John, Your name sake who played for every holiday party; Tom, who made sure we received the best seats at each of his symphonies; and Mack, Perhaps the most talented of all, aside from your dear old father. We all loved and respected these three men as if they were family. Oh, my soul aches to relive those days, and I know that you hold them dear as well, which is why I am certain that you will understand what I am about to tell you next.

You were home the night that your uncle died in the car crash and you must remember your father’s condition following the funeral. That night he left home at eleven and did not return again until sunrise, covered in mud and soot and absolutely exhausted. He spent the next several days and nights alone in the basement grinding and sanding his new piano keys. Do you remember this, my dear boy? How worried we were that he would never return to us, sane. But when he did return he replaced five old keys with five new keys and played his heart back to health. How relieved we were, then.

It was only two years later that Mack was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Tom died of his heart attack shortly following the diagnosis. Your father played at Tom’s funeral and carried recordings to the hospital everyday as the morphine dripped. Still, your father’s sedative could not ease the pain or stop the grim reaper from procuring his victims. After each passing your father followed the same procedure he had with your Uncle John, wandering the night without explanation, returning dirty, concealing himself in the basement, replacing his keys and playing away his sorrow.

Before your father passed away, he revealed to me the mystery of his activities those nights. He also bestowed on to me his dying wish, which I, because of my love for him, carried out. This is what you, my son, must now do for me and also for your father. The night following your father’s death, I too quietly left the house in the middle of the night and wandered to the cemetery. I dug for endless hours, severed your father’s hands, concealed them in a sack, re-covered his grave and returned to the dark depths of the basement. There, I removed the flesh, ground the bone and molded keys from your father’s dust, just as he had done for those he loved. You see, the piano was part of your father’s soul and now your father lives through his instrument.

For the past three days, the piano has played ceaselessly and I know now that your father is calling me to join him. There are three unfinished keys remaining, you will recognize them. Please respect my request dear son, as I have loved you with all of my heart. Good bye my dear boy and be sure to listen for the music when I call for you.

Your Dearest Mother


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