bittersweet symphony
[inspired by her, her, her and what growing up taught him.]

he is not mozart
and he does not write or play compositions or sonatas
because his fingers always fumble
on the narrow piano keys and he can't
tell which note each key is anyway
and that's something mozart excelled in.

when he was younger,
his mother took him and his brother
to a music shop to buy his brother a guitar
because he'd begged her for weeks and weeks and weeks
and then his brother had found one and she
turned to him and asked if he wanted anything
and he chose that blasted keyboard.

at first, they didn't tell him
how bad his fingers bashing onto the keys sounded
but then his mother suggested a tutor
and he saw through it and swore never to touch it again.

but then the tutor came
and she was this beautiful teenager trying
to get some quick cash to put in her uni fund
and none of that mattered because she sat
next to him on the bench and spoke to him
like he was a grown up and not a little kid
stealing her Saturday morning.

a few weeks later
and he was still awful, despite his tutor
so she pulled the cover over the keyboard
and pulled out her mp3 and gave him a headphone
so they both could listen to mozart's piano concerto 23
in A major and when it was done she told him
that piano wasn't about technicalities,
it was about emotion and she couldn't teach him anything
until he understood that.

she didn't come the next week
and his mother was fuming and called his
tutor's mother who got angry at his tutor and she
turned up the week after looking sad before
asking if he understood now and when he nodded,
her smile lit up the room.

that lesson she tried to teach him chopsticks
but he didn't get why someone would name
a composition that so she spent more time
explaining that the composer can name their piece
whatever they want even if other don't agree with it
than actually teaching him how to play.

eventually when his questioning happened every lesson
she scribbled out the titles and they pretended that
there was nothing but them and the clumsy notes
he'd started to produce even though he should be
be better than that by now.

then summer came and ended and his brother
told everyone at school that he played keyboard and
they made fun of him and he locked himself
in his room to cry because why did playing
his beloved keyboard make him queer or gay?
but then they found out who was teaching him
and they clapped him on the back and said
well done mate, I get what you're doing
even though he had no idea what they thought he was doing.

and this confused him for some time
until one day he saw one of the boys that
teased him then didn't kissing his tutor at school
and then when the guy saw him watching,
he came over and punched him and said that
he'd better quit his lessons because she was his now.

he began to understand that maybe
none of them understood that he just wanted to
learn keyboard but then she came for their lesson like usual
and the words that would end their lessons fell flat
on his tongue because he wondered if the boys
at school were right after all and he did
want her more than he did the lessons or keyboard,
so he kept quiet and took the beating
her boyfriend gave him silently.

it was kind of ironic that he had all this
time to figure out and tell her that maybe
she was more than a tutor/friend to him and
that it had taken another guy stealing her to make him
realise how much she meant to him.

that Saturday when she came over
he played the best he'd ever played and
she smiled and it was beautiful and he didn't
realise that he'd said that aloud until
she blinked and left wordlessly.

sometime that week he heard
his brother and his tutor's boyfriend talking
about his tutor and how she'd given him head
last night in the back of his mum's car
while she was in tescos fetching milk
and then that night at home he asked his brother
what giving head was and his brother explained all
about sex and he never looked at
anyone the same way again.

he asked his tutor why she did it
and she didn't understand until he told her
about the overhearing and asking his brother
and she had tears in her eyes but didn't tell him
anything other than 'you'll understand when you're older'
before going back to explain about some chord
and he never got over the first and last time she
treated him like a little kid.

it wasn't the same after that
because he didn't understand why she
allowed herself to be used by this arse who
told everyone about their exploits the next day,
especially when they had sex for the first time
and he found she was a virgin because being
a girl's first is supposed to mean something
and all the guy's around them made an agreeing
noise, including his brother and he wondered
what his brother did to girls in the back of his car.

it was a year since their first lesson
and he knew now that he was in love with her
but that she didn't love him back because
she was still having sex with her boyfriend
in the back of cars and his unmade bed
and deluding herself into thinking that it was love
even though she could see his drifting eyes.

he knew when the boyfriend cheated on her
because she came to their lesson with red eyes
and hugged him and said she was sorry
but he didn't know for what and he didn't say
anything and just played what she put
on the reading stand and actually played it well.

his brother had a birthday party
and told him to stay in his room
but he didn't
and she came in this violet dress that
danced across her thighs and clung to her hips
and they all got drunk and someone
handed him a drink and then another and more
until he was too out of it to hear
the people in his room so he walked into it
and there was his brother and her
writhing on his bed naked and
neither noticed him so he walked
back downstairs and drank until he passed out.

when he woke up, he brother punched him
and called him a twat and for a moment he
thought it was for walking in on them but
it turned out he was just mad because he got
drunk when he promised to stay in his room
even though he couldn't stand to go in there
at the moment because all he saw was them
on his bed and he hated them both then.

she didn't understand his sudden coldness
towards her because he was always so friendly
but it was just his way of protecting his
shattered heart because he didn't think it would
quite survive her anymore.
so he told her that he was quitting keyboard
and when she asked why he said it was
because he wasn't good at it and it was boring
and he hoped the words hurt her as much
as they hurt him.

since he didn't have lessons anymore
he went out on Saturdays with his friends
and they smoked and drank and went to parties
and he wondered if anyone else found it
as tedious as he did until he decided to use
it as a way to get over the girl who'd never wanted him
and when everyone else began drinking
he found a girl that looked like her and sat
by her and told her she was beautiful
even though she smelt like booze and puke
and apparently this was enough for her to
spread her legs like a whore and for
him to fuck her virginity away because
it wasn't sex and it wasn't making love
and when he realised she was a virgin
he felt bad for involving her in his petty revenge
so after that he made sure they weren't
and fucked the lot of them.

two years since he began his lessons
and a few months since he'd quit them
he threw his own birthday party and
he told his brother to piss off but
he came anyway and she came too
in a little tiny black dress
and her hair was different and beautiful
and she looked tired and beautiful
and he missed her and she was beautiful always.
she was invited by his brother
who ended up passed out in the back garden
and it took him four shots to gather
enough courage to go start a conversation
but it was all worth it when he saw her
and her eyes flashed with regret
and he knew that his words
all those months ago had hurt her too
and this warmed his half-repaired heart.
they talked about nothing and everything
which was nice because he missed that
and he thought that maybe he had
grown up and gotten over her
but then she kissed him
and he wasn't sure of anything anymore.

he woke up in his bed
with her in his arms and
it was the best birthday present ever.

the day after
when he'd gotten rid of all the people
laying in various states around his house
he ended up walking past a mirror in the hallway
and he stopped and really looked
and he wasn't quite sure what he saw.
he was bigger than when he had first met her,
his hair was longer and his eyes jaded
and he couldn't look into them for more
than a few seconds and he
wasn't sure what he felt about that.

she liked his eyes, though.
she said they were sky and sapphires and sea
and then she'd kiss his nose
and he'd love her forever.

he taught her how to blow rings
when smoking
and she taught him how to understand
body language
and in their first argument,
her body language told him a story
of anger and pain and hate
as they screamed and insulted
and imploded.

and they were explosive -
volatile, even.
sparks flew and it was either
arguments or make up sex
in a cycle
until he decided that he couldn't do
this anymore.
he wrote a letter and thanked her
for the heartbreak, for the life lessons
and for the keyboard tuition, too -
because that's how it begun.

he composed her a melody
on his dusty keyboard
and it was awful but
he still gave it to her
and even though it hurt
to see her cry,
he realised that that was what
life was about:
letting go and moving on.
and he called the melody
bittersweet
because that's the only way
he could describe their relationship
and the way he felt when
he let her go forever.