there’s a piano on my foot

I found myself holding my breath for no particular reason. I had it between my two cold hands where it could wriggle and squirm. I calmly looked at it and then let it drop back down into my stomach.

I had been catching myself doing that a lot lately. I tried to count my breathing but it seemed to become even more shy. Well, at least I was standing outside a doctor’s clinic. I think it might just be the most perfect place for your lungs to take a small breather.

I smelled of bad news; you could see their noses wrinkle as they swung through the doors. And what would someone who’s received bad news smell like?

A bit sour, I think.

Are you not meant to sweat a bit more when bad things happen? Can I not be soggy in peace?

Maybe describing how I looked might give us a better idea of what’s going on. Well, a zonked-out thousand-yard stare painted my face. Was that because the parking lot ahead of me was around 914 meters (and 400 centimeters) long or was it because I was sad? Who can say?

My clothes also screamed tragedy. I was wearing the exact clothes that someone of my build and complexion would wear to a funeral. Odd, right?

I guess the passersby might have assumed that I had received shattering news about some pale-faced relative inside the clinic and had arranged our affairs within the time it had taken to skip out of the clinic. And, of course, I had been specially prepared for this news because I just happened to have a duffle bag brimming with mourning clothes as well.

None of these assumptions were right. Assumptions, unfortunately, make an ass out of you and umption. I really just smelt sour because I sweat a lot. There was no pale-faced relative knocking on death’s door. On the contrary, my red-faced sister was nursing her thumb in that waiting room. I was outside the emergency room because my sister had in fact been bitten by a mosquito. It hadn’t even been a nasty mosquito either. The problem had really come from my sister thinking that her thumb was just too pale. What can I tell you? The tan made quick work of the bite turning it into a very swollen hand.

Oh. I explained away the smell but why was I in the suit? Well, I had been mourning!

I am mourning still I guess. I don’t think a quick stop to the emergency room warrants a break from mourning so to be quite particular I guess I have been mourning, am mourning and will mourn. This was actually the first time I had a chance to escape that too-small house.

We had closed the casket that morning and I had stood very much like I’m standing now except I was beside my dead Grandad. Luckily, my dead Grandad was not in the parking lot with me.

I wish I could have joined in with the wailing. A loud heart at least means that you can’t hold any doubts. At least only strangers were giving me funny looks out here and there was no dead body lying around (that I knew of). I could have waited in the car but my sister’s boyfriend was waiting there. He had thought that my sister had contracted that bible disease. I think he might’ve meant leprosy but I really didn’t want to ask. I wondered how he would handle sitting next to her for the entire car ride back. Maybe I could ask her to tuck her arm into her shirt when she walked out of the clinic.

My cousin would be waiting for me when I got back. I should really be with him right now. I had been leaving for long walks to keep my fraying edges together and whenever I came back he had tampered with the body in some way. It wasn’t anything malicious but I would know that it was not the dead man who had gone picking posies. We would find Werther’s originals hidden deep in his grey suit. My cousin even removed his glow-in-the-dark watch because what if it were to wake him up deep within the cool soil. What if?

Nobody else would miss me. I would glide into that house and I would explain that I was Patrick’s son! I would say “yes, I am quite tall!”. I would talk about being a vegetarian. The one thing I wasn’t able to talk about was him because I just couldn’t think of any stories about him that would make people feel even slightly better.

There was only one thing about him that kept on turning over in my head. Over and over and over. He always told this one joke no matter if you’d heard it or not:

A father and a son are moving a piano down a flight of stairs. It’s heavy work and the son is struggling at the front of the piano. They huff and they puff but finally they reach the bottom and, with a CUNK, they drop the piano to the floor. The son yelps, “Dad, the piano’s on my foot”. The Dad sits down at the piano and says “You hum it son and I’ll play it”.

 

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