Image courtesy of Tess at Magpie Tales
Angelie claimed to be a city girl, but I knew better. She loved that patinaed cabin just as much I did. I loved it even more when she was there, gauzy and softly scented of lavender mixed with sun-baked salt. Salt that my hungry mouth had the privilege of tasting when she would waltz across the porch to honor me with a kiss. It was good, it was summer and the cabin breathed us in.
Maw-Maw's piano rested on the front porch, a mossy king keeping an eye on the emerald mountainside that constituted its domain. It held sway over the gravel drive up to the cabin, taking in the river below. The river, a steely blue rush that cut the landscape from west to east, whispered to us up there on the slope. Every year there was a conversation between the piano and the river gods. I heard it from when I was a stripling and into my erstwhile adulthood. The dark mutterings, the burbling trills that could have been prayers. I never understood them, not for years.
Angelie was a nova in the deep space of my life. Bursting forth with light and heat enough to melt glaciers and cause an early spring. I knew nothing of it until that afternoon when she climbed up on the piano. The shade of my Maw-Maw must have groaned in disbelief, watching from somewhere. I felt the exhalation sweep through my heart in a small cold rush.
Late summer day, with the scent of warm earth eliding into the metal tang of ozone emanating from the darkening sky rolling in from the south. The trees were bowing and scraping before the wind. Little drops of rain pitter-pattered into the soft dust in the yard. The Queen Anne's lace and coreopsis that snuggled the porch shivered at the promise of a soaking. Maybe I did too.
I sat on an old oak stool at the end of the piano, watching Angelie as she watched the coming storm. She sipped at her iced tea, swan-like, as the tinkle of ice cubes merged with the burble of the river. I sat mesmerized. The glass in my hand sweated gently, cool runnels flowing over my fingers in counterpoint to the muted heat of the day. She told me she felt like a song.
She walked over to the edge of the porch, just under the overhang. She set down her glass. Back to me, looking down over a sun-brown shoulder, she reached to take off her sandals. I tried to ask her what she was doing but somewhere between the mind and the mouth the words evaporated.
Shoes on the bench. Rain like little glass beads adorning the metallic leather straps. Angelie hoisted herself up onto the piano before I could object. In the back of my mind, Maw-Maw raised a hand to her mouth, aghast at the sheer boldness on display. I was hoping the old thing would hold together, but it, like the cabin, had been built to last.
Tawny toes graced the yellowed ivory, slow liquid notes shimmering in the air. Angelie smiled at me. I smiled back. My heart rang like a bell, to be reborn on a summer day, a witness to the Creation.