A single note on the piano was all Jennifer produced. There was no one home to hear her practice much less play. Jennifer was half an orphan. She was a senior in high school but it was strange just checking in with dad instead of mom hovering to see that she did everything right.
Gazing out the window, she watched children walking home from school. Two little girls around eight were running up to a much larger boy who was probably the same age. They looked like little angels in their school uniform.
The angels knocked the boy down in the flowerbed; crushing and uprooting Sam Glover’s Impatiens. The little boy stands up and tears the chain off the posts that Glover says he uses for decoration but is a coy reminder of the property line.
Jennifer focuses on the sheet music. She turns her head in time to see the boy swinging the chain like a truncheon. The girls are leaning forward taunting him. Oh, this is ridiculous; I will just open the door and look out. They will run off.
Jennifer coolly looks from left to right at the children. The little boy begins to wail loudly. “They goin’ ta beat me up.” Genuine tears are flowing. The girls turn in a snit and walk away. They look back, and then stop at the end of the road, pretend to be talking but face the poor bedeviled boy.
Jennifer reaches in to the foyer and takes her cell phone off a table.
“Would you like to call your mom?”
He nods his head yes. She winces as he wipes his nose with his hand and grasps her cell phone with the same hand. Sniffling, he calls his mother.
He is talking on the phone. Jennifer hears a woman calling down the road. The girls are gone. His tears dry as he hands her the phone back.
“Mom.” He runs to meet the woman. Jennifer stands and watches them walk down the road hand in hand. She pauses, reattaches the chain and replants the uprooted flowers.
Walking back into the house, Jennifer thinks about not practicing. She knows the music. She plays scales before playing her mom’s favorite, the Westphalia Waltz.
The phone rings. She plans to ignore it but the number is the one the boy dialed. There is no hello, how do you do, just a woman telling her to mind her own business.
Jennifer starts to talk and the woman hangs up. Fuming, she decides to call back. What does this woman mean she is going to speak to her father?
It’s the boy. “Do you remember me?”
“You remember me kid. I saved you from those two girls.”
“You did not. You lying. You lying on me. I weren’t fighting again. Madison and Taylor are my friends.”
His mother is in the background yelling, “Whose on the phone?”
“It’s that crazy old lady who plays the piana.”