Sitting on a blanket, on the floor of that long abandoned home, in the middle of nowhere, had to mean I was Fruit Loops. After all, no one packs a blanket, a sleeping bag, and a backpack full of munchies, to go spend the night in a house full of spiders, and god only knew what else. Yet, there I was.
It was a bit of a hike to get to. I’d been wandering around in the woods I’d inherited from my parents. They’d inherited them from my mother’s parents. 200 acres of nothing. Just one small house, made of cinder blocks, with all the electric wiring and plumbing running through the overhead. No carpets. No air conditioning. It did have a stove, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a kitchen sink, one toilet, and one bathtub. I didn’t know how anyone could live there.
But, I loved the woods. Mom and Dad knew that, so they left that useless chunk of land to me. Hell, they didn’t even know what all was on it. I figured, “I’ll go camping there a few times, explore the woods, then sell the place.”
Except, I never did sell it. I kept it. Because of the house no one knew was there. An old fashioned, one room shack, really, with a wood fired stove, and a pump for water behind the house. And one ancient piano. I suspected no one had lived there. Rather, they’d visited there, perhaps to enjoy the solitude.
I’d found it on my fifth trip to the woods. Takes a while to explore 200 acres of woods, you know. The first couple of trips I’d spent at the cinder block house. Set up a cot, and threw a sleeping bag on that. Used it as a base to explore a bit, and decide how I wanted to do things.
Decided to pack my one man tent, and sleep among the trees. Hadn’t found any dangerous animals, figured anything out there was as scared of me as I was of it. So why not? By sleeping in the woods, I could explore more of them, faster.
I’d spent the fourth night among the trees, listening to the crickets, and the frogs. Might have been a few small rodents out there, I heard some scratching, and some twigs breaking, and leaves rustling. But, nothing scary. I’d slept well. I always did when I was camping out.
The fifth day, after wandering around for hours, taking pictures, writing notes, I stumbled upon the shack. I figured, “Why not camp around here?”. I’d called it a day, and set up my tent. A banana, a couple handfuls of grapes, a can of soda, some peanut butter and honey, and some potato chips, and I was ready to call it a day.
I’d racked out in my little tent, shortly after the sun set, and closed my eyes, and fell asleep listening to the breeze rustle tree leaves, to the crickets chirp, and the frogs croak. It was a perfect night. I couldn’t remember when I was so happy, so relaxed.
The sound of a piano playing woke me up at just past 2 AM. It wasn’t animals. It wasn’t the breeze through the trees. It was, clear as could be, a piano. And for some silly reason, I had to find where it was.
I didn’t have to look far. It was the piano in the shack. That ancient piano, with the keys falling apart. On top of it, there was a candelabra, with candles glowing brightly, to fill the shack with light. And an old woman sat at the piano, playing.
She didn’t notice me when I first entered the room. She kept playing. A lovely piece of music I’d never heard. She played it until it ended, then smiled, as she rested her hands on the keys. Every note had been flawless. Something I knew that piano couldn’t do. She’d closed her eyes, “Ah, Liszt. You wrote some marvelous tunes. Hard to play, but well worth learning.”
She’d turned to look out the window, and wound up looking square at me. “Oh, my.”
“Please. Play something more. That was beautiful.”
Now, I spend a weekend every month in this hidden shack, in the woods, that no one knows exists. And the soul of my great-great grandmother plays on the piano. And heals the wounds this world puts in my soul.
I don’t think I’ll ever sell the place. Who knows. Maybe, someday, I’ll live in these woods, and visit her every night, to listen to her play. Perhaps, even after I’m long gone, and someone else inherits this place.