Time in Willow Creek: 4 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
Ever since Juliana first noticed the storage building in the backyard, she wondered about it. She let her imagination run wild as she fantasized about what could be stored in there. For months, it taunted her, called her name in her sleep. When Harriett told her what was actually in there, she was underwhelmed but still wanted to see for herself. Months ago she wouldn’t dare climb those stairs. But, now? This was her house too. She could go in there if she wanted, right? Early one morning after breakfast, that’s exactly what she did.
She couldn’t believe her eyes. It was right there in her own back yard the entire time. Juliana closed the door and stepped completely in the shed and gazed upon the beautiful instrument. As she walked toward it, she looked around and inspected everything else that was being stowed away. Opening the door had sent a gush of wind into the shed. It disrupted the dust’s hibernation; she sneezed. The Christmas tree was quite decadent. She had only ever seen Christmas trees like that on television. Her family could never afford to buy one, and it seemed quite wasteful expense for just one day. However, when she found that the Humphries’ tree was artificial, she was intrigued and thought it was an excellent idea. It was amazing to her that regular people could have so much stuff they had to build a separate building to keep it in.
One day, I’ll have this much stuff.
She stood in front of the piano for a moment and ran her hand across the dusty lid. Somehow, she found herself opening the lid and running her fingers across the 88 keys. She wasn’t going to play; she just wanted to touch it. But then she sat down.
Maybe no one will hear. I’ll play soft.
Her fingers tickled the ebonies and ivories like it was a cooing baby. The harsh sharps and flats made it clear the instrument hadn’t been loved in many years. Still, it felt good to be playing. She played her favorite song. Then she played her mother’s favorite song and then her father’s. He was the one who taught her how to play. What began as a happy adventure turned into a nostalgic trip down memory lane. So many memories flooded her mind: the way her father’s calloused hands felt on hers when she was just beginning; his spiced scent when he leaned over her; his deep, sultry voice when he sang along. She knew not the time and did not care. In those moments, she existed in a place where only she and her father lived, and she wanted to stay there for a long time. Oh how she missed him. As Juliana’s memories were carrying her away, her music was spreading to the house and sent others down memory lane too.
She didn’t realize he entered the room. Harold hadn’t set eyes on that piano in nearly 20 years. Seeing her stroking the keys despite how badly it needed to be tuned did something to him. It reminded him of happier times. Times when life was carefree and whimsical—like Juliana looked in that moment. He was silent as he stood there watching her, hoping by some miracle she wouldn’t notice him and kept playing. However, she had to notice him at some point, and when she did, she was terrified to see him.
She gasped, and her heart skipped a few beats. She thought he was angry with her, and she ran away.