**This story is a reprint. First electronic rights belong to Defenestration Literary Magazine and was originally published on January 24, 2018
Piano Hoarding Christians
by Kristy Gherlone
The people across the street will not teach me piano. They told me ‘no’, even after I had put on a clean shirt, combed my hair, and walked all the way over there. I thought it would be like asking for a cup of sugar, like neighbors sometimes do. “Will you teach me piano?” I asked nicely.
The woman who answered the door smiled and then frowned. “Oh, do you hear us playing? I hope we’re not too loud.” She glanced over at my house as if she were trying to gauge the distance of sound waves.
“No, it’s not too loud,” I said. “So will you?”
“Have you ever played before?”
“No,” I said.
“Do you own a piano?”
“Hmm,” she said, batting at my cigarette smoke, “I don’t think so.”
“Shit,” I said.
“Well, thanks for stopping by. Bye,” she sang. She started to close the door, but I shoved my foot in just in time. “Wait! How about one of your kids? Maybe one of them can teach me.”
“Hmm,” she said again, fiddling with the cross around her neck. “I don’t think so, but if you ever need sugar, we have plenty of that.” She kicked my foot out of the way and closed the door.
I flicked my cigarette butt into their driveway, walked back across the street, and sat on my front steps.
“Well?” my husband asked.
“Hold on,” I said. I picked up my gun, aimed, and finally shot the bastard squirrel that had been chewing up the walls in our house. I put the gun down. “They won’t do it,” I told him.
“I think they’re religious,” he said, as if that was an explanation. “Do you know they have seven children?” he added.
“I know. I’ve seen the little brats. I think they all play the piano. It’s not very Christian to hoard all the piano music knowledge.”
“I don’t think they hoard all the piano music knowledge. Besides, you have your own music,” he said; and he was right. I did have my music. I had The Medic Droid. I liked to listen to “Fer Sure,” when I mowed the lawn in my bathrobe. And I had Metallica. I liked to listen to them when I drank beer and took selfies on the front porch in my underwear.
I scowled at their house. Someone closed the curtains.
Not one of them came over to tell me they’d changed their mind, and now I hear them all hours of the day, tapping out their soothing, melodic rhythms, like they’re trying to taunt me. Like they’re rubbing it in.
When I’m never a concert pianist, I will blame them.
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