Returning ~ By Susan

It had brought such joy to Oliver’s life. This old, battered instrument was the piano that had inspired him to learn, practice and then write his own pieces. Many evenings had been spent sat in front of its keys. Summer evenings, the room still warm from the heat of the day inspired him to write melodies drawn from the bright colours of the flowers and the lazily buzzing bees. In the winter he would wear finger-less gloves and keep his fingers from growing stiff in the cold by playing Chopin.

And now, here it was again. Or rather it had always been here in this place. It was Oliver who had left and now returned. He hadn’t really considered leaving very much at all. Oliver had simply finished school and arrived at the time in his life when he was to leave home. That’s want everyone expected of him – teachers, parents, friends. It had never occurred to him to do anything else. So he packed up a suitcase of things he thought he needed at university and moved to a new town, leaving behind the piano along with everything else that had been familiar to him up to that point.

That first term of university had been all consuming. There was so much to get used to. Oliver had managed at school and had expected to handle studying his degree to be within his capacity too. But he often left his lectures confused and was surprised to find he would need to actually exert himself to pass his essays. Fortunately he fell in with a group of friends who were also that brilliant combination of averagely gifted, hardworking and great fun. Together they would support each other in their studies while also making the most of everything else that living in halls had to offer. Juggling his studies and socialising along with learning how to cook and clean had filled his days so much there was no room for thoughts of home. Hobbies that he indulged in before leaving home were discarded too, replaced with pub crawls and table top board games.

At the start of the Christmas holidays all that suddenly ended and Oliver, along with all his friends, boarded trains to their hometowns and returned to their family homes. For Oliver it felt like going back in time. During those months at university he had changed without even noticing it happen. It was only when he walked through the door of his parents’ house and looked at the familiar piano stuffed in the corner that he felt a reminder of what it was like to be a child living at home. And at the same time a clash with the reality of how he felt now, as an adult living in a shared flat many miles away. These thoughts and feelings all happened in a moment that was pushed aside by the embraces of his parents but Oliver found time late in the evening to come and sit with this old friend, rustily playing through tunes that his fingers had played smoothly in the past. Remembering who he had been and reconciling that with who he was becoming.

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