October 12, 2012


The cinema lobby was mostly empty; it was too early for the first batch of movies of the night to start, so the few people that straggled through the lobby were there either to pass the time as they waited for their dates, or perusing their options for evening entertainment.

I sat, sipping my americano, early to the special screening. Early to everything, my mom would sometimes jest; just don’t be early to your deathbed. Morbid, but funny: my problem with punctuality was that I was always too early to be considered on time.

A man in a t-shirt — striking because of the cold outside — came in, looked around the lobby, seemingly searching for a friend. Seeing the cinema mostly empty, he grabbed a seat on a bench before realizing that it was, in fact, a piano bench.

He turned around, lifted the piano cover, and began to play.

The staff at the theater were obviously not accustomed to people playing the piano, left there as a showpiece, but they did not intervene — the man in the t-shirt was an excellent player, and the empty air of the cinema was now full of beautiful tones.

I watched his fingers dance against the keys and smiled. I recognized all the songs he played, and appreciated the diversion.

Then, out of nowhere, I had the urge to sing.

The man in the t-shirt was playing Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You” and I joined in, with my voice, for the second verse. He looked at me as he played, surprised. And then, with a nod, he kept playing, letting my voice catch up to his keys as his solo show became a duet.

We made music together for the next twenty minutes, as theater patrons started crowding the lobby, awaiting their next show. He played songs I knew and I sang loudly and clearly from my heart.

And then, we stopped. His friend had arrived, and my show was about to begin. With a nod to each other, we acknowledged the music we had made, and then disappeared from each others’ lives, with only the echo of the piano chords whispering goodbye as we went our separate ways.