Author: Michael Anthony Dioguardi

The pianist pounded on the ivory keys and produced such sound that dust trickled from the ceiling. The shadows of his hands collided with the flicker of candle light, orchestrating a waltz of chiaroscuro. The trills and follies manipulated each other into exotic patterns. The pianist’s pupils reflected the rattle of seasoned appendages in their abode. Sweat crept down his face and dried on his neck.

He ran up the pentatonic, skipping the eights and fifths. His right hand pressed full octave chords as his left hurdled over it; stepping on the black keys as if they were hot coals. His hands and mind raged in a vicious tug-of-war for control over the concerto. His chair bellowed as his arms swung and whipped around the pages of his manuscript. Papers wallowed from the stand and floated to the floor but the pianist was uninterrupted. Notes hung in the air like mist. He lifted his eyes to the ceiling and gazed into the void of his own creation.

And then he felt it — the vibrations in his ears. His lobes pulsed with blood flow. Saliva avalanched over his bottom teeth.

This vibration — this sound, it was alien.

There was a competing force, not of his creation. The pianist confronted the sound of another. He recognized the melodies and the unmatchable style. The unknown force propelled the pianist’s hands back towards him. His vision blurred and the chair beneath him disappeared. The details of his workplace dullened into azure hues striated by fleeting measures, now incarnate. The pianist found himself in the most obscure chamber. The rival force filled the deteriorating space with haunting sonatas. The piano’s notes lingered fresh in his view. Their figures elongated and revealed their innards. Lines pirouetted into complex shapes and exploded before his eyes. The rival conductor engaged the pianist, chiding him into terror. The rival’s face, obfuscated by the arrangement, contoured a familiar image. The pianist extended his hands towards the face, but the ceiling’s imperfections returned to view. The music faded and his hands returned to him.

The pianist observed his corner in silence. He collected the papers from the floor and placed them atop the stand. The pianist shivered past his lips, “Thank you, Amadeus.”

He caressed the keys once more, their surfaces still burning, “Your Requiem is complete.”