The Best Song I Never Heard


Her fingers paraded atop the keys, but everything felt a miniscule offering. She paused looking at the large, empty music hall and laughed. Time had been a great tutor. So familiar were the ivories in front of her, they had become like a curious family, beloved in their harmonies and discord. Their lengthy conversation began when she was five, and had continued through multitudes of recitals, music halls, and world tours. And here she sat, before her cherished instrument, hands wrinkled with time. There was a pursuit in her heart the world knew not of: a secret desire and devoted ambition to discover a song fit for a king.

Maybe the greatest song depended upon the speed of her fingers, she mused, or the complexity of a melody, or the innovation of the techniques she could weave together – perhaps somewhere in this mixture of skill and risk lived the great song of which she dreamed. If she could just find the perfect combination. But her fingers were tired and aches of age bid her to bed.

 She closed the fallboard, tucking the keys in for the night.

“Did you find it?” He startled her in the silence.

She turned slowly to find Papa standing calmly behind her, “Did you find it – the song you are looking for?” His voice filled the empty hall.

She shook her head, “No, Papa.”

He smiled approaching the shiny, black bench, “May I?”

She nodded thoughtfully and slid over, joy sparkling inside at the sight of Him. As He sat she felt time wash away. She might as well have been five again with her feet dangling above the floor.

“The greatest song, this is your desire?” Papa winked.

Biting her lip, she shook her head. How foolish to think one song could be greater than all others. “I imagined,” She finally whispered, silver curls hiding her face as she stared at the keys, “I imagined it was a foolish pursuit.”

“Because you have seen beauty in so many melodies?” He offered.

Her watery eyes turned to His, “they are all great, aren’t they, Papa?”

He nodded, “there is nothing apart from greatness, I suppose.”

Rubbing her arms to shake off her disappointment, “I think I just wanted to do something special, something I’d never done before. Something no one had ever done before.”

His arm reached around her as she rested her head gently on His shoulder, “You like creating new things,” He patted her on the arm, “You come by it naturally, it’s a family trait.”

She nodded as she nestled into Him, and let out a deep sigh.

“I have something to show you,” He grinned, “a great song.”

She pulled away and looked up at him wryly, “Of course you do.”

“It’s the world’s longest-running song,” he looked around the room as if the notes were visible around him, ”it’s playing even now – do you hear it?”

She strained as she turned her head around, trying to detect any small sounds.

Papa had closed his eyes, “it’s so beautiful.”

He could clearly hear it, but she was at a loss, the hall was crisply silent.

“The anthem of abundant life,” he said softly not wanting to interrupt the song.

She looked around again and leaned towards the piano; anything to draw near to a sound she could not detect in the slightest.

“You don’t hear it?”

“No, Papa, I don’t hear anything.”

“Hmm.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a weathered paper folded carefully, “Perhaps you’d like to read the score?”

Age could not prevent her from moving like a nimble child, and turning to receive the wonder of this page.

As he handed it to her, his face shone with a simple delight.

She glanced His way again as if to officially ask for permission to unfold the paper.

He nodded, seeming more excited than her.

And in a moment she sat staring at a simple paper that would change everything.

She smiled. Then laughed. Then laughed louder. “This is the best song I’ve never heard, Papa.”

“I never tire of it,” he laughed.

The beauty of its simplicity slowed her until she traced the lines on the page with her finger and slid her head back onto Papa’s shoulder.

She could feel him nodding above her head as He whispered, “Rest-2-3-4. Rest-2-3-4. Rest-2-3-4. Rest-2-3-4. Repeat. The anthem of abundant life.”

The room was still as she let the song wash over her.

“I always imagined it as a duet,” He said at last, “Play with me?” He stretched His fingers upon the keys.

She extended her fingers, only to find her hands quickly enveloped in his.

And there they sat, listening, hand in hand.


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