The Persistence Of Memory
by William Meikle
Betty woke with a start, heart pounding so loud in her ears that it took several seconds to realize a different sound had brought her so rudely awake; someone was playing the piano in the dining room beneath her.
She sat up in bed, gasping for breath, adrenaline jolting through her like fire.
It couldn’t be her husband, for he had been dead these three years now. But whoever was downstairs knew exactly what to play to get her heart racing; the old songs from when the sun shone and life was good.
‘I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places.’
Her heart refused to slow. The playing reached a crescendo for a final chorus and sent vibrations all through the old house, dust mites bouncing on the floorboards. The last chord rang and echoed in the still night. Then everything was quiet.
Betty stayed sitting upright in bed, straining to hear any sound of movement from below, waiting for the scrape as whoever had been playing stood from the piano stool. But there was nothing, just her heavy breathing that slowly returned to something approaching normal. She would not get any further sleep; that was for sure. She stepped out of bed, wincing at the cold that seeped from the floorboards, and pulled on her old dressing gown. When she got to her bedroom door she stood still for a while, listening, hearing only the slight rush of wind from outside and the far off sound of a car on the main road. She was already starting to dismiss the piano playing as the last remnants of a dream.
‘What else could it be?’