It started when I was young, on a snowy Christmas morning when my mother had taken me to see the Christmas musical. I had become so entranced with the melody flowing from those shiny keys on that piano, the boy sitting there on the bench couldn't have been any older than myself.. maybe three or four years older. I was amazed at how well he played, he was gifted. I later came to find out that he was different than me..much different. He played by ear, never needing to have sheet music. It had amazed me so much that I started to want to be like him, though I knew I never could be.. But I still tried. It took my mother a lot of convincing to have her sign me up for piano lessons, and after three months... I laid my dainty fingers on my first baby grand.
My teacher was a nice woman, never too pushy and just the right amount of patience. She taught me all the chords and single notes.. then she would listen to me play, giving instructions on when I made a mistake or if my wrists where not in the proper position. I grew to like her over the first few weeks that I had begun taking lessons, and she had grown to like me as well.
She had a son. Only a few years older than myself, he was young... but talented none the less, and he was the reason I wanted to play that sweet melody. It may have been because we where only in our first years of elementary school but his mother seemed to like that he had confided in me. Even with his difference from others I kept him stable. The way he had said hello was peculiar, his hand wasn't waved, and he didn't smile. He simply studied.. but with him fingers. It had scared me to begin with but with a simple of his thumb and the dazed look in his eyes told me every thing I needed to know.
That boy was blind.
At such a young age, someone with so much talent was unable to see the very object he possessed so much talent to play.. yet he played so beautifully. I still had yet to come to terms with the fact that this was the very same pianist that I had seen play at the Christmas musical in the months prior. How could he be? He couldn't see! Even as the days passed I stayed at his side, guiding him when his mother couldn't. I read to him the nights he had asked his mother if I could stay the night. We played the games that he had taught me, only by touch.. never by sight. To make things fair I had always had his mother tie a blindfold over my eyes and have him feel that it was covering my eyes so he knew I wouldn't cheat.
I continued my piano lessons that way as well, him by my side, guiding my hands over the keys and me with my eyes covered. He would always say that if you play blind... your fingers remember. He would laugh as if it was a joke between us two.. his being blind. He used to tell his mother that when he was with me.. he could finally see.
But his light went away one day. That day on the first snowfall of that year.. He fell ill. His mother stopped my lessons in fear that I would fall ill as well.. but I never did. My mother and his had kept in touch over the months following, I would over hear them talking daily about my blind friend.. He had been sent away on Christmas eve to America.. Since our medicine didn't have the power to heal him..
They would always whisper after I was caught listening, but I always managed to hear most of their conversations anyway.. That blind boy was dying, and I never knew. My reason for wanting to learn that beautiful melody had been fading away right before my eyes and I never had a clue. He had always seemed so happy and carefree when I was around.
I too liked being around him.. Even if I only knew his face and he only knew my name, we were still friends. I still practiced in secret day after day, I asked the music teacher at the school if I could use the music room after school. Of course she had said yes after I told her it was a surprise for a friend. My mother would always worry once I got home late that night, in fear that I too would fall ill.. But I never did.
When I was 12 my mother and I started to argue, she had found out about my staying after school to play the piano. I hadn't a clue why she was angry, all I wanted to do was remember.. Remember that little blind boy from those years ago.. Im sure our mothers still talked, I could catch them ever once in a while.. they were getting better at hiding it. I knew he had passed.. Or so I was told, I never really heard much about him from my mother or his. They excluded me from topics such as him.
For three months I was taken out of school to prepare for a private academy in Seoul.. Our small town didn't have the right education for me. Well, thats what I had been told as I was being pulled out of the school yard.
It was a difficult new start for a young girl like me.. In a new.. bigger place. I had been sent to stay with a friend of the family, and they were nice. I had told them about my love for those beautiful ivory keys and they showed to the biggest room in the house right away.. Which was soon converted into my personal room. This piano was different, bigger.. It was grand. And they keys played the most beautiful sound I had ever hear.
This time my mother kept me in the loop.. She said that I was old enough to know. The boy I had once knew.. and grew fond of, had gone into a coma two years ago.. and on Christmas of my thirteenth year of life I cried for the first time. Over a boy I barely knew anymore, but still missed dearly. Thoughts of him crossed my mind every moment that I danced my fingers over the keys of that grand piano.. But it wasn't the same... He wasn't by my side, I felt lost.. I felt.. Blind.
On my 14th birthday I put that blindfold he had given me on once more and I played, I played to my hearts content.. Into the late of the night, and the early day. It was spring break so I could do as I pleased, with my mothers calls and the memories of that beautiful melody that I had started to learn.. I began to compose his melody.. the melody of his life.
And one day when I was 15 the calls stopped completely. I knew what it meant, There was only one thing it could mean. That boy that was merely a memory now.. was gone. He was no longer part of this world. It pained me to say that I hadn't gotten the chance to say goodbye.. or even see him before he had to go.. But I still had to finish the song, it had taken me a year to get only half the melody right.. it was missing so much and I couldn't think of what it was.
So as I played that same melody over and over again, sometimes with the blindfold and sometimes without, it started to dawn on me.. What was missing.. was him. It had been him all along, his eyes.. the color of charcoal, his hair the same but his smile held a rainbow of emotions. Black was the color that reminded me of him the most. So thats what I used.
The black keys.
I began to re arrange the melody, using the black keys that I had normally tried my best to avoid to create a symphony of emotions into just one song. And as I was playing I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, the aching in my heart beginning to return. And after a few years, on December 24th of my nearly 19th year of life.. I wrote in the very last word of the lyrics to his melody that I had created..
and on the next day.. I returned to my hometown for the annual Christmas festival with a few of my friends from the music program at the academy, they had signed up with me to perform after hearing my reason behind the song I had played them.. and they joined.. they played it on their violins and cellos every night on the months leading up to December..
The night of the concert everything had been set up for my friends and I to play.. But I couldn't do it, It just wasn't right.. Not without him there. His mom was here.. and so was mine, but it didn't have the same feeling. The man they had sitting with them looked like he didn't belong... yet he fit.. oh so perfectly..
That man was looking at everything as if he had never seen these things before, as if he had been blind his entire life.. Blind.. Yeah.. Maybe that was it.. I took that tattered olf black blindfold out of my bag and sighed as I peered out at the audience once more as my friends all settled down in their places.
As I sat down on the bench I had first seen as a throne as a young girl but now was only a grave of memories, I took one last glance at my mother and his and my eyes widened. His mother was treating that man as if he was hers.. as if it were him.. and as I pulled the blindfold over my eyes the crowd fell silent.
As our melody began one of our friends from the choir stood in the center of the stage with two of his friends and began to sing once the time was right, With my fingers dancing over the ivory and black keys of that piano I began to sing along as the others began to play, the mic only picking up my voice as background noise along with the instruments.
I could hear coughs and sniffles from the towns people that I had grown up with and it pained me to know that they had to see me at my weakest, with him by my side it would have been easier.. if only I could turn back time.. I'd go back to the days where it was just us.. Just us two and our little baby grand piano as kids.
I started to cry durring the second round of the chorus and I new that it showed in my melody, I closed my eyes and let the melody that I had memorized flow out as the song reached its and the tears flowed freely from my eyes, I had finally came to terms with it.. My own eyes had lied to me on this day.. That man out there couldn't be that blind boy I once knew.
That man out there had a sparkle in his charcoal black eyes that that boy had never shown me.. But his smile, it held the same light to it.. the same airy feeling I used to feel when He had smiled.. How I missed that smile..
Once our song had come to an end we all stayed silent until the curtain were drawn in our little amphitheater, and only then did I take of that tattered blindfold and let it rest on the keys of that baby grand. I had finally given him the last gift I had for him.. The gift of the black keys.
On the first of January I had been strolling around my little almost forgotten hometown with a small smile on my face as I listened to the sounds of a piano in the distance, it was beautiful and it lured me in.. just like that day many years ago.
My heart was telling me to follow and so I did, I let the music guide me until it lead me to that small enclosed part of our gathering area where we held out festivals and as I stood there watching the man at the piano I smiled. It was a melody I had never heard before and it sounded.. self composed. Just as mine was. It was refined.. perfected.
And as I stood there in the doorway watching him I realized that there was no sheet music in front of him.. he was playing from his heart.. Just like that boy I once knew.
I continued to listen to him play until his fingers grew tired.. it was as if he hadn't touched a single key for years.. but yet.. it was as if he played that melody every day of his life. The second melody was familiar.. It was the same one I had heard the first time I had met that boy.. It was the song that had given me hope.. It was even more whimsical than the first day it had been played..
I moved closer to the piano and I watched as the man shifted over to give me room, as If he knew I had been there the whole time. He nodded and I settled down on the bench, my fingers joining his on the ivory keys, our melodies combining into a single perfect symphony.
As we sat there and played that perfect harmony I let my mind wander, and once we were finished he turned to me and did something that broke my heart completely. He reached up and tucked the loose strand of hair behind my ear and brushed his thumb over my bottom lip as he moved his hand away.
“You still have the scar..”
His voice was deeper than I would have expected..but that single statement brought me to tears, y eyes hadn't lied to me.. No.. My heart hadn't lied to me that day.. But both mine and his mothers had. I looked away from him and took a deep breath.
“I don't know what you are talking about.” I told him sternly and he laughed, it was obnoxious but it made my heart flutter none the less. The tears kept coming and I didn't even know why.. I hadn't cried like this since that say just a few years ago.
“You can't lie to me... Seohyun... I know you remember me.” He whispered and turned my head to face his. “I don't know what they told you.. But.. “ he paused ad took a deep breath. “I had to go away.. I didn't just get sick.. My eyes, they were..” Another shaky breath. “Rotting away..”
My eyes widened in horror and I turned to him. “They.. what?” I whispered and reached up to cup his face. “I had no idea... All these years, I thought you were..” I paused and shook my head, it didn't matter now.. He was here.. and.. “Can.. You see me?” I asked softly and he nodded slowly.
“I can see you..” He whispered and leaned over to pull me into his arms. “You grew up just how I imagined you would..” He said softly. “Chanyeol.” he whispered and then buried his face in my neck. “My name is Chanyeol.” He said again.
I nod and sniffle as I start to cry into his sweater. He had gotten so tall.. so skinny and so handsome. “Don't leave me again..” I sobbed and wrapped my arms around him, turning my body and moving into his lap, my backside pressing down on some of the keys. His arms slipped around my waist and his fingers slid along my back in a soothing pattern.
“Don't cry anymore.. I don't want my first sight of you to be you crying.. You're too beautiful to cry Seohyun.” He said to me quietly and I shook my head, I needed to let it all out.. but I still needed him. I took a shaky breath and pulled back as he wiped my tears away.
“All this time.. You were alive.. I was lied to..” I told him and bit my lip. “Why?” I asked him and ran my hand through his now short black hair. “Why did they want to keep you from me?” I asked as I searched his face for the answer and all I got was a little flush of his cheek.
“Because.. I love you.” He whispered and looked away. “But I'm not allowed. I wasn't supposed to fall in love with anyone when I was younger.. My mom wanted me to focus on healing and not on girls. She had always told me that my heart was healthy bt a woman wouldn't love me fully if I coudn't see them..”
I stared at him with wide eyes and leaned down, pressing a gently kiss to his lips. “You don't need to see to be able to love... I liked you just the way you were back then..” I told him and he sighed. “Chanyeol.. You were the only thing on my mind since that christmas day.” He bit his lip and smiled softly.
“That song you played at the festival.. You wrote it didn't you?” He asked and I nodded. “The beginning.. It was the song we were learning how to play as kids.. I remember it. But you changed it. You created your own song and.. it was beautiful.” He said softly and studied my face carefully, as if at any moment.. he could go blind again. “Seohyun.. I really do love you..”
My breath catches in my throat and tears started to well up in my eyes once more.. “Chan...That was your song.. I had composed it for you.” I told him and he stared into my eyes, his hands on my hips and mine cupping his face. “I.. I love you too.. I guess I always have and thats why I didn't forget you..” I said softly and he kissed me this time, his lips pressed firmly against mine, his body raising and pressing me back against the baby grand piano. The keys making a sound of complaint that fell on deaf ears.
The only thing that mattered to either of us.. was each other, in that moment I was his and he were mine. There was only us two and the ivory and ebony keys of that baby grand. In that moment I couldn't have asked for more.. But he gave more in return anyway. On that icy day two became one in the most intimate of ways and neither person nor time could tear us apart.
And that night we spent it under the stars, cuddled up together until our mothers had to come search for us. Once found we had gotten screamed at for dissapearing and not checking in.. but we didn't listen, our mothers meant nothing since we were old enough to live our own lives. And so on the next morning we left on the first bus out of that small town headed towards Seoul where I lived with that family friend.
Will the money I had accumulated ever since my first job, and the money Chanyeol had made from all his piano competitions we bought a house. It was a small town house on the outskirts of Seoul but it was home to us.. and thats where we started our life together.. Just him, and I.. And the black keys.