It glared at him with a hot hatred of ivory and ebony. Beck shuddered.
“It’s doing it again,” he whispered. His sister closed her book with an angry snap.
“For God’s sake!” Lucille trilled. “Beck, this has to stop. It’s a piano, not some kind of monster.” She pinched the bridge of her nose and allowed her book to fall haplessly on her stomach; she was too frustrated, now, to lose herself in the words. “Stop acting like a child.”
“I am not!” Beck argued; his attempt to square his shoulders in a charade of bravery was undercut by the immaturity of his response. “Just look at it,” he pleaded. “You cannot honestly say that it’s a normal piano.”
She humoured him, raising her eyes to the dusty veneer of the ivories across the room. It sat harmlessly, inoffensively where it always had. Forgotten, but utterly normal. “Beck…” she started, releasing his name in a breathless sigh.
“Don’t,” he snapped. “Don’t tell me I’m crazy, or that I should get over it, because I know when someone hates me. And that thing”—he thrust his finger towards the piano in a malevolent accusation—“despises me.”
“There are so many things wrong with that sentence,” Lucille muttered.
“Pathetic fallacy!” Beck exclaimed.
“That’s what it’s called, isn’t it? When an inanimate object is more human than it seems? Pathetic fallacy.”
Lucille rose from her chair to stand nose-to-nose with him. “Yes, Beck,” she drawled, flourishing the book in his face until he leant back slightly. “In books. Here, in the real world, inanimate objects are just that—inanimate! Toys do not come to life. The television does not have feelings. And the piano does not hate you!” She shouldered him, hard, and took gleeful pleasure in seeing him stumble as she left the room. “Get over it, Beck,” she called, throwing his words back in his face. “Seriously, just get over it.”
Beck glowered resentfully in her absence; a moment later, he realised that he had his back turned towards the piano and so he spun wildly to face it. It smirked at him, a wicked grin that caused the man’s hands to shake.
“Stay away from me,” he moaned. “Stay away!”
Lucille woke suddenly from her nap. Her heart fluttered unpleasantly, and yet she could not recall what it was that had awoken her so suddenly. Perhaps it was guilt, she mused. Her brother had always been a little eccentric; it was unfair for her to have yelled at him for it.
She stretched luxuriously on the bed until her shoulders offered a satisfying pop. “Beck,” she summoned pleasantly. Silence answered her; she rolled her eyes. Clearly, he was still mad.
She rose from her bed and went in search, calling again, “Beck, where are you?” Her voice was gentle and slightly pleading, trying to convey her apologies before she met him in the halls.
But he was nowhere. Gone out, maybe?
She reclaimed her chair, drumming her fingers along the arm of it as she pondered her brother’s whereabouts.
She could not say why she noticed the change in the piano, but something drew her eyes towards it. Lucille then noticed that the gleam of the ivories was missing; the dark, heavy fall had been drawn down to hide them.
And this was strange.
Since their mother had passed, no one used the piano; no one knew how. And Beck certainly wouldn’t have bothered to touch the thing, would he?
Lucille smiled a little. Maybe he was trying to overcome his irrationalities. Maybe he had gone near the piano, even played it a little.
She hummed quietly, a hushed, pleased sound in the back of her throat, which quickly spiralled into a relentless and shattering scream, as she lifted the piano’s fall and found the keys painted red.
Lucille stumbled backward, still screaming and wiping fearfully at her blood-covered hands, hot and sticky. “Beck!” she screamed once more, wanting and needing him to emerge from his room, to laugh at her reaction or to gleefully see the understanding in her eyes.
But he was nowhere, and never would be anywhere, but in that scarlet smirk that the piano offered to the screaming girl.
This short story was in response to one of this week’s Inspiration Monday prompts: death by piano. Hope you enjoyed.
- Love The Bad Guy