I. Andante
II. Lento ma non troppo
III. Allegretto
IV. Con moto
V. Intermezzo: Adagio
VI. Notturno
VII. Finale: Alla breve

- - -


Call it a looseness around the neck, like the lack of certain muscle tissue at the back. The eyes keep level, but her head remains in a bow. As if she's front-heavy.

It's easy, at first, to mistake her as submissive.

She is, in fact, taller than me. A good few inches. With her head heavy the way it is, and my posture proper, our heights almost even out.

- - -


She likes music that drones. Lazy, wooden, ageless paces. Songs for early morning or late at night. When we lie together, spooning on her rug, listening to her records, I feel like an old soul. Almost on the Delta. Minding my acreage on the family soil. Catfish in the murk.

I love catfish, but don't feel blue.

- - -


We sit at the piano, sides of the bench to our own. Four hands for two parts.

Treble clef is yours, she says.

She's unaware that she reads far better than I can. I'm quick to learn, but she leaves me behind.

Her hands are swift. Graceful. Controlled. I am impressed. Her head is still hunched.

She looks pretty, and I think about sex.

- - -


I get it.

- - -


What I realize is that years at the piano is what has given her head the permanent tilt. The posture is a crouch, the discomfort of the seat. Her tallness is a problem, but not without remedy.

I know a man, I say.

He can make me shorter?

He can make a bench. Just for you.

- - -


Third night in a row that she gets out of bed to play the piano. Six-eight time. Major key. Nothing I've heard before. Twice through with no mistakes, as far as I can tell.

The third time, she falls apart. Halftone here, wholetone there. She drops the beat, as though her fingers have gone numb. The sound is something terrible, but she continues to play, and she's laughing.

I listen in bed. I smile.

When she finishes playing, she rustles back in next to me, and I pretend to be asleep. She doesn't seem to know, and she tells me a secret, then closes her eyes. Her hand is on my chest, heavy like a magnet, and hot.

- - -


Late Sunday morning and a glass of water. She likes to have hers warm; something about the speed of hydration. The glasses we drink from are equally tall. I tend to slurp.

Quiet, she says. Can you hear that?

A piano.

A good one.



The bedroom is empty, and that is where I go. I sit on the bed, back against the rest, and watch her from a distance. She stands so still, eyes closed, a calm in the water in the glass she holds.

About the author:

Calvin Liu is editor of The Glut and managing editor of Bullfight: A Literary Review. His writing has appeared at Eyeshot, Lamination Colony, Surgery of Modern Warfare, and Monkeybicycle. He took piano lessons in the third grade, but was dropped by his instructor for being "too restless" to teach.