h2>Dating : The Last Sonata
The cacophonous roar of the shopping mall grew as Christmas neared. Patrons of all shapes and sizes were pushing and shoving to get their hands on the latest and greatest toys and tech. They’re weren’t shopping for others; they were shopping for a feeling of self-worth. The idea that they were doing what they were supposed to do. They vigorously slid credit cards and threw wads of cash in a desperate search for fleeting happiness.
The arctic cold emanating from the vents above wasn’t enough to fight the growing sweat stains and rising stench of body odor.
In the center of the mall, a mezzanine circled the first-story food court. Arms and cellphones hung over the rails, peering down upon the feasters below — like vultures watching lions devour their flash-fried prey.
In the middle of the food court sat an old man who played a gloss-black grand piano. He wore a tattered, blue velvet blazer, strewn with curled threads and dust bunnies. Beneath was a white dress shirt, no longer the white that it was when he bought it 10 years ago. His faded, black slacks lead to his leather dress shoes, filled with cracks, running across the base of his toes.
The old man’s body was brittle and contorted — worn out from life, but his fingers still danced effortlessly across the ivory keys, youthful in their demeanor.
Jingle Bells, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and Silent Night were just a few of the tunes that filled the long list in his labored concert. He wasn’t performing these songs — he was merely playing them. Rent needed to be paid, ends needed to be met, and his ambition left long ago with the passing of his wife.
While his fingers tranced their way through Deck the Halls, the old man reflected on a time where he felt happiness. He didn’t think about his life as a jazz pianist, selling out seats in bars and clubs, or his glory days as a respected orchestra member — no, the old man only thought of his sweet wife, Delores.
He reminisced of the days they spent, embracing each other’s souls, letting the world around them go dark and mute. Every night, Delores would beg him to play “just one more” of Beethoven’s creations; and even though the old man would be tired of playing, he’d always give her the encore performance she demanded. He could never refuse Delores; love wouldn’t let him. Her eyes would fill with tears of joy and bliss as the air filled with majestic sounds times and time again.
Before keying the final notes of Deck the Halls, the old man’s hands froze. He took a moment to take in his surroundings. He sat center stage in a world that had moved on without him. He had become a relic, as time does to us all. His happiest days were behind him, and unlike Beethoven’s compositions, the songs of his past could never be played again.
“Moonlight Sonata” he mumbled. “Delores always loved it.” The old man had heard Moonlight Sonata tens of thousands of times in his life, to the point where he grew tired of it, but “Delores always loved it.”
The old man moved his fingers against the piano’s keys as if he was softly stroking blades of grass in the calm of Spring. He was hesitant to begin, but his thoughts of Delores set him in motion.
He began to play her song, center stage among the frivolous spenders and food gorgers. The melancholy tune slowly infused itself with the surrounding chaos of the mall. A few shoppers stopped to glance, temporarily spellbound by the emotions the sound created within them. But they only stopped for an instant, taking 5 second videos on their phones before carrying on with their business.
The crowd felt nothing; the old man felt everything.
With his eyes closed, images of his first meeting with Delores played. Then their first date, sharing a sundae at their local diner — Delores putting ice cream on the old man’s nose and smiling like they were the only two people on the planet.
He then saw their first child, Adam, being born, the tears running down Delores’ face as she admired his innocence. The old man had forgotten the tune of this memory. It brought a tear to his eyes.
Approaching the Sonata’s crescendo, unearthed other memories that had been locked away for for years. The image of Delores hysterically crying, the beginning of her losing battle with cancer, her body in bed, grey and lifeless, clinging on to an unwinnable fight.
The Sonata began to soften once more, nearing its end — as Delores did 10 years ago, slipping away into silence, slowly but inevitably.
Barely able to finish, the old man reluctantly moved his hands across the cold keys of the piano. They were no longer dancing; they were dragging themselves to an unavoidable finale.
The old man played the Sonata’s final note, holding his hands in place, unable to lift his fingers. Eventually he released the keys and a dull ring filled the air around him. He opened finally opened his eyes, swollen with tears, glancing at his surroundings.
The old man continued to look around — no one looked back.
He then noticed an elderly woman, sitting a few tables over, her hands clutched her cane, her eyes were filled with deep sorrow.
They exchanged locked eyes, and were simpatico for just a moment. The old man pulled the cover towards him, encasing the keys in a protective layer of scratched wood.
He then stood up and walked towards the exit. Each step felt more painful than the last. His body could barely hold him up, his soul ached with every movement. The elderly woman continued to watch the old man as he dragged his feet to the mall’s exit, her eyes filled with tears.
After stepping outside of the mall, the old man turned his head up and stared at the blue sky above. He searched for an answer, but he didn’t know what he was asking.
After his brief pause, the man carried on, fading into the distance.
The elderly woman had a feeling that she’d never see him again. The old man had played his final sonata, and she was the only one who had heard it.
The mall continued to roar and rage in all directions. People fighting and clawing to get to wherever they needed to be. The elderly woman laughed at the sight.
Jingle Bells began to blare on the speakers above.