Sunlight flooded through a bay window, bathing the living room in a warm orange glow. The grungy brown carpet was worn thin under his knees, the long shaggy knap betraying the neglect and lack of vacuuming that gave birth to a musty odor that brought with it a deluge of memory. The room was familiar in every way, down to his very core. Without so much as lifting his eyes from the floor, he stretched out his right hand and felt the familiar threadbare fabric. Slowly he got up and eased himself onto the uncomfortable orange sofa that held him in its awkward embrace so many afternoons as a child.
He ran his hands over the wooden arm of the sofa, with its numerous dings and bite marks. Somehow he still remembered the exact taste of that wood, though it had been ages since he was little enough to partake of it. His eyes ran over a room that was more precious to him than any place in the world. Each object was a jab of emotion that was silently overwhelming him, bringing him to the verge of a cathartic but voiceless wail.
He got up and walked a couple steps to the other side of the room, to the varnished oak bookshelves that once held an aquarium with snails and translucent minnows and a black fish with eyes that seemed too big to be possible. He remembered the hum of the filter, the eerie bluish-green glow that the tank gave off in the night when all other lights had gone out. He looked over the pictures of kids in Halloween costumes, or visiting a forgotten landmark on a vacation long ago. He was compelled to brush his fingers over the spines of a nearly complete set of encyclopedias, the gold foil of the writing glimmering against the ageless maroon faux-leather material. The K volume was missing, lost in a school project. He had torn his room apart looking for it, stayed up nights fretting about how he was going to explain its absence when the project was completed.
He turned to his right and saw his most valued memory: his piano. It was just as he remembered it, an island of austerity in a sea of whimsical nostalgia. He longed desperately to play it once more, and he felt as though he were hovering above the floor as he slowly moved toward it and reached out his hands to press the keys.
It was silent.
At first he pressed softly, expecting with every fiber of his being the sweetly dull timbre of mallets and strings that had laid dormant in his memory for who knows how long. But nothing came. He pressed harder yet and harder still, but no sound would come from this magical box. He felt frustration boiling up inside him, the frustration of one who finds himself in someone else’s sadistic house of horrors. He had come so close to being at peace and it was cruelly being denied him.
His fists came down thunderous against the black and white fingers, and all at once the sky outside turned an ominous shade of green. Panic arose like a flash flood from the pit of his stomach, a deep fear of something he couldn’t name or remember but of which he knew he would not be able to escape. He dropped once more to his knees and shrunk into a ball as he waited for it.