She entered the empty room, closing the door behind her. She walked over to the piano that stood in the middle of the room, careful to not knock any of the chairs. She could see the thick layer of dust that covered the floors and the furniture in the forgotten room. Then, she remembered…
“Did you hear that?” I asked my friend. “Did you hear that sound, Mi-cha?”
“What sound?” she asked, confused. Then, I heard the sound of the piano playing again.
“That sound!” I replied. She frowned, listening hard. Then, I could see her eyes widen when she heard the sound.
“Oh that…” she mumbled. “It is probably someone playing the sound over the speakers. People tend to do that sometimes.”
“You are new in this school. This is how things are sometimes. Anyway, I have to go. I will see you during lunch. Alright?” Then, she rushed off.
“But there are no speakers in this hall…” I murmured. Then, I shook my head and went off to find my next class.
After that, I was walking down the same hallway again. It was empty this time and I could hear the sound of my footsteps. Then, I heard the sound of the piano again. I frowned and walked towards the sound. I stopped outside a room and could hear the music coming from inside there.
I twisted the doorknob and peeped into the room. I could see that the room had only chairs and there was a couple of windows. In the middle of the room was a piano. I could see someone playing the piano. It looked like a guy. I have not seen him before but I could tell from his facial expression that he loved playing the piano.
I listened to his playing before he stopped. Then, I silently closed the door and ran off to my next class. Everyday after that, I would find time to stand outside the room to listen to the music. And I told no one about it.
She stood before the piano, running her hands on its black, smooth sides. She closed her eyes and thought of him, thinking that she could smell his unique scent fill the room. As it often had four years ago. Then, she stood beside the place where the pianist sat, the place she often stood when she came to hear him play when she became his friend…
I woke up that day feeling tired and slightly dizzy. My mother had asked me to stay at home. But I refused. I had to go to school to hear him play. He was like my drug. During weekends, I missed his playing. And now was the end of the week. I had to hear him play so that I could endure the suffering I had to go through for the next couple of days.
I barely made it through the first class. The teachers and my friends asked me to go home. But I would not. I had to hear him play. I walked down the deserted hallway, my hand on the wall since I could feel the pounding of my blood in my head.
I sighed when I heard the music of the piano and walked over to the door. I opened it and peeped inside, closing my eyes as I heard the music play. The pounding in my head seemed to stop for awhile. Suddenly, it came back again. This time more ferocious. The next thing I knew was that I was falling into a roaring blackness.
I moaned and placed a hand on my head. I opened my eyes before closing them again. Then, I opened them again when I realised that I was not in my room. I sat up and looked about, wondering where I was. Then, I heard the door to the room open and saw the guy that played the piano walk into the room. He carried a small pail of water in his hands and the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up. I could see that he had long fingers, like those of a pianist.
“Oh, you are awake,” he said, sitting down in the chair beside the bed. I could see that his eyes were almond shaped and his lips were curled into a smile that I knew could make any girl go weak.
“Yes…” I murmured, watching him.
“Are you feeling much better?”
“Yes… Where am I?”
“In my house. You have been sleeping for some time now.”
“How long have I been sleeping?”
“About seven hours…”
“What?? I have to get home.”
“You have not fully recovered yet. Why don’t you go back to sleep? I will send you in the morning.”
“Just go to sleep.”
“Your welcome. Now, go to sleep.”
I did as he told me. The next morning, after breakfast, he sent me home. On the way home, we talked about each other. When I told him that I liked to hear him play, he laughed and told me that I need not do that. He was happy to have someone hear him play and would prefer if I stood in the room and listen to him play rather than stand outside the room.
When we reached my house, he helped me explain to my mother about what happened to me the previous day.After that, I always stood beside him to hear him play. There were times when he would wait until I arrived before he started playing.
It was only a few days later when I found more about him. He was the son of the chairman of the school and was two years older than me. But I thought that it was alright to be friends with him and continued the friendship. A few days after I found out, I found him waiting for me outside my classroom. As he grabbed my hand and dragged me to the room, I could feel and see the eyes of the other girls on my back. People along the corridoor gave me the stares as we passed them.
I did not know what was going on until the next day when someone poured ink all over my table and even left a roach in the desk. After school, I was dragged by a group of popular girls towards the field. There, they started beating me up, pulling my hair, telling me to leave him alone. I cried out in pain and tried to escape. But I could not. Then, they started pushing me around until I felt too dizzy that I fell, twisting my ankle.
As I sat on the ground, crying. From the corner of my eye, I could see one of them lift a long piece of wood in the air, bringing it down onto my head. I covered myself with my arms, anticipating the blow. But it did not come. I could hear gasps and I looked up. I could see him standing there, twisting the wood out of the girl’s hand and throwing it away. Then, he carried me, bridal style, in his arms towards the nurses’ office.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Do I look like I am?” I demanded. I covered my mouth, shocked at the tone I had used. I murmured, “I am sorry.”
“It is alright,” he said, smiling. “I have seen any people stop being friends with me because of this…” He looked sad all of a sudden.
“I won’t stop being your friend,” I said, covering my hand with his. He looked up at me and smiled. I could see his joy. Now, I understood why he never talked of his friends when we together. And I wanted to be his friend. To be there for him when he needed me. For some reason, my heart started beating slightly faster as I thought of that.
She sat on the piano seat and lifted up the lid, hre fingers brushing against the dusty keys. She could feel his hands on hers as he taught her how to play the piano before he left her. Her heart ached as she taught of that rainy afternoon many years ago…
“Sorry!” I said walking into the room. “I had to help a teacher out today.”
“Its alright,” he said, smiling as I walked towards him. I placed my bag beside his and then stood beside him, waiting for him to play.
“Why don’t you sit here?” he asked, moving a little to give me space to sit.
“Are you sure?” I asked him, slightly unsure. He laughed and stood up, grabbing my hand and then making me sit beside him.
“I want to teach you how to play,” he murmured in my ear. I could feel his breath on my neck. I felt my cheeks become hot and I heard him laugh. “You look like a tomato!”
“How mean!” I shouted at him, hitting him with my hand.
“Haha!” he continued laughing. Soon, I was laughing with him as well. After awhile, we stopped and then I turned my attention to the piano.
I had never played an instrument before and had never touched one. Not to say I wasn’t interested. It was just that my mother could not afford one. She raised me single-handedly after my father passed away. And I the money she earned was barely enough to get us through the month. So, I never pressured her into getting me a piano.
“Do you want to learn?” he asked me.
“Yes…” I murmured. Then, I hugged him, touched by what he was doing. “Thank you so much!”
“Your welcome,” he said, hugging me back.
Then, he started playing a tune on the piano. I recognised it as the one that he had been playing for the past few days. He seemed to be working on it for sometime. I watched as his fingers danced lightly over the keys. Then, he stopped and looked at me.
“Try to copy what I did,” he said. I tried but somehow I could not. After a few times of trying, he placed his hands on mine and then showed me how to play but guiding my hands. Soon, I knew how to play it as well. Then, we played the tune together, the sound of the piano and the pattering of the rain blending in with one another.
She looked at the keys and then pressed one of them. She listened as the sound died away. Then, she reached into her bag and pulled out the music sheet and placed it on the piano. She looked at the notes that had been scrawled on the page in his hand-writing for her. She placed it on the piano and the started playing the tune. It had been sometime since she played this song. Her eyes tear up as she remembered that day…
“Hey!” I said, entering the room. Today was the third year of me being in school. The people that had first objected to me being friends with him now did not mind. We were often seen walking together, talking with each other like old friends. But in my heart, I knew I wanted to be more than that. But I was too shy to tell him my feelings and kept quiet about it.
“Hey…” he replied. I could hear the sadness in his voice and wondered what was wrong.
“Are you alright?” I asked, concerned. I never liked to see him sad. So, when I saw him looking like this, I felt sad as well and there was this ache in my heart.
“I am fine…” he said, smiling.
I could see how forced it was and felt my heart ache more. I wanted to ask him what was troubling him but I could see that he did not want to talk about it so I just let it be. We were silent for awhile. Then, I asked him, “Aren’t you going to play today?”
“I was thinking of going out,” he said. “Do you want to go with me?”
“Sure!” I replied. “Where do you want to go?”
“Somewhere… You will see once we get there.” Then, he took my hand and lead me to his car. He opened the door for me and then shut it behind me before getting in.
I looked out of the window beside me, watching the passing scenery. I could hear the radio playing some sort of piano music. It sounded soothing enough and I was enjoying myself. Then, I thought about the tone of his voice back in the room. I wondered why he was behaving that way.
“We are here,” he said, his voice breaking through my thoughts. I looked up and laughed when I saw where we were.
“You wanted to come here?” I laughed, watching families that were walking around the carnival.
“Why not?” he asked, innocently. “I wanna have fun, you know. It is not a crime to come here. Come on! Let’s go play!”
“A little while more,” he answered, aiming a hoop at a bottle. I nodded and looked up at the sky. I could see that the sun was almost gone and knew that my mother would be worried sick about me. But my heart kept telling me that I should not go yet.
“Yes!” I turned and looked at him. I could see him jump with joy and saw the hoops. The old woman that was in charge of the stall asked him what gift he wanted to which he turned to me and asked what I wanted.
“Don’t you want anything?” I asked him.
“No…” he replied. “I just wanted to see whether I could win in this game!”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Of course I am!” he answered. I looked at the soft toys that were in the stall and then pointed at a cute dog soft toy. The woman smiled and took it down, handing it to me.
“Are we going to go home yet?” I asked, walking beside him towards the car.
“Not yet,” he laughed. “I want to treat you to dinner.”
“But, my mom-”
“I told her that I will be with you the whole day. She was alright with it. Otherwise, do you think that I would even think of taking you out?”
“Well… Maybe I would…” he mumbled. Then, he quickly added, “If I liked you of course!”
“Which you don’t?”
“Of course I do! You are my friend…” Then, there was silence in the car. I felt like I wanted to tell him that I liked him more than that! That I wanted to be more than just a friend. But I knew that that would only jeopardize our friendship.
“Are you alright?” he asked. I looked at him and nodded, not trusting myself to speak. We continued the rest of the journey in silence.
“We are here,” he said, pulling to a stop in front of the restaurant. I stared, not believing my eyes. This place was expensive. I grabbed his arm, stopping him.
“This place is expensive,” I told him.
“So?” he asked, an eyebrow raised at what I told him. “Don’t worry. I have enough money to pay for this.”
“Don’t worry too much. I have this covered. Besides, we won’t be doing this every night. It is just for tonight.”
“Its just today.”
After dinner, we decided to take a short walk in the park. I looked up and could see the Cassiopeia constellation. They were shining brighter than ever tonight. I sat on the grassy slope, staring at them. He sat down beside me.
“You like the stars?” he asked.
“Yes,” I murmured. “My favourite constellation is Cassiopeia. Look! It shines brighter than ever tonight.”
“That is my favourite constellationas well,” he said, placing an arm around my shoulders. Instinctively, I placed my head on his shoulder. sighing with contentment. We watched the stars silently. Then, I saw a shooting star.
“Look!” I exclaimed. “A shooting star! Let’s make a wish.” I closed my eyes and made my wish. Then, I heard him laugh.
“You believe in such things?” he asked, looking amused.
“Duh!” I said. “Aren’t you going to make one?”
“I don’t believe in such things…”
“I just don’t.”
“Oh! Come on! Just make a wish! It won’t hurt!”
“Fine…” He closed his eyes. After some time, he opened them.
“What did you wish for?”
“Tell me yours. Then, I will tell you mine.”
“I wished that the both of us could be friends forever.”
“Why that? Are you scared that I will not talk to you in the future?”
“No… I am scared if you leave me. You won’t leave me, right? You will always be beside me, right?”
He hesitated before answering. “I won’t. I will always be beside you. I promise.” I sighed and then closed my eyes, feeling tired all of a sudden. Soon, I was asleep.
I woke up the next day, still feeling slightly sleepy. I sat up and took a drink from the cup of water on the table beside my bed. Then, I noticed a rolled, ribbon-tied paper and a letter on the table. I took them and then unrolled the paper. I could see music notes and the title of the song, ‘Song Of My Heart’, written at the top of the paper in his hand-writing. I smiled and then placed it aside.
I opened the envelope and took out the letter. I could see his hand-writing there as well. I could also smell his scent on the paper. Then, I read the contents of the letter. My eyes widened and I jumped up from the bed, changing clothes. I ran down the stairs and saw my mother there preparing breakfast.
“Honey, do you want something to eat?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “I need to get to the airport.”
“Why, dear?” my mother asked, worried. She grabbed hold of my arm. “You are not thinking of going anywhere are you?”
“Mother, I need to go to the airport,” I said, trying to pull away. Then, I noticed the look in her eyes as she looked at the letter in my hands and then at me. “You knew?? You knew about this, didn’t you???”
“Honey, he asked me to keep quiet about this.”
“You should have told me!” I shouted at her. “How long have you known??”
“For sometime already…”
“Why didn’t you tell me???” She kept quiet. I sighed and then pulled my hand out of her grip. “I am going to see him. And no one can stop me! I have to find out the truth! I can’t let him go like this!” I ran out of the house without another word.
I got out of the cab and ran into the airport. I looked for him. I ran about the place, pushing people out of my way. I had to find him. I could not lose him. Not yet. After awhile, I fell down and started crying. No! Why?? I thought. I could feel my heart ache. I knew that I had lost him.
I slowly got to my feet, ignoring the people that stared and then walked out of the airport. I took the public bus to the park. Once I was there, I sat down on the grassy slope where we both had sat the previous night. I opened the letter and read it again:
Hey! How was your sleep? I am sorry for doing this. And if I could, I would not have wanted to. But I have no choice. Before I tell you why, let me tell you about something that I’ve hidden in my heart for so long.
I love you. I loved you since the day I first met you. I had known that you stood at the door to hear me play on your first day at the school. But I did not have the courage to ask you to to stand beside me and watch me play until that day that you fainted.
You looked like an angel as you slept. There have been so many times when I felt like kissing you and telling you about my feelings. But I could not bring myself to put our friendship in danger in case you did not feel the same way about me. So, I kept quiet about my feelings. I only had the courage to write this as I watched you sleep last night.
The song that I left for you is the same one that I taught you three years ago. Only now, it is complete. This song is about you. Your gentleness. Your kindness. I have written it down in the form of this song.
I have something else to tell you. I have a life threatening cancer within me and I have to go overseas to see a doctor. I only discovered this a year ago. The doctors here can do no more to help me. My condition grows worst each day. I had not wanted to go. But when I thought of you, I knew I had to suffer a little if I am to see you again in this lifetime.
I am sorry that I can’t fulfill the promise I made to you as we sat under the stars. I am sorry. I will come back and see you when I get back. That is if you want to see me. I will wait in room for you on this day in four years. I promise you that I will come home.
Her fingers stopped playing the piano as the tears that she had been holding back fell down her face. She never received any news from him. She never knew whether he was cured. Or whether he was already gone. She missed him so much. One of her tears fell onto the keys. She covered her mouth as she started sobbing.
Then, she got up from her seat and was about to leave when she felt someone’s arms embrace her from behind. She did not need to look to tell who it was. She could smell his scent in the room again and the feeling of being at peace washed over her.
“I am sorry, Eun-ae,” he whispered into her ear. She could feel his breath on her neck. “I am so sorry.” She turned in his arms and faced him. He still looked the same. She stood on tip toes and kissed him gently, closing her eyes. he kissed her back, holding her closer to him.
“I love you, Yoochun,” she said, looking at him. “I still do.” Then, they hugged each other.