The sun was very warm on the big crate as it sat in the back of the delivery truck. Heather didn’t think she could stand it another minute when finally the delivery drivers came back to unload her.
She knew that all this heat was not good for her beautiful finish or for the rest of the piano that she was a part of. She had always wanted to live in the desert and here she was in Phoenix, but it was the middle of the summer and temperatures were over 100 degrees during the day.
With much effort and extra help and dollies and pulleys and a “come along” Charlie and George finally got Heather into the large living room of the beautiful southwest territorial style house. The house was a soft muted adobe color with a red tile roof and graceful palms shading it. There was a sparkling pool in the back yard and the patio overlooking the pool had misters running all day long cooling the patio so Heather’s owners could enjoy their beautiful back yard.
“Let’s get the crate off of this piano so it can start cooling down,” Charlie said. “Boy it sure is a fine looking instrument.” he said as he took the crate off.
“It looks as though it belongs in this desert southwest home,” said George. It was a light colored wood that matched the other territorial style furniture.
“Yeah, look at the carvings on the case. They look like Indian symbols, don’t they?” Charlie responded.
“And the music rack – look at that music rack. With those cutouts it looks like the rays of the sun fanning out across it,” George said excitedly.
Heather was owned by Maria and Antonio Hernandez, a couple who both played the piano and toured the country giving duo piano concerts. They let the piano sit for about a week getting used to the temperature inside the house that was cooled by two large air conditioner units. Heather breathed a sigh of relief as the internal parts of the piano started to cool off. The metal of the sound board was extremely hot when it was finally taken from the truck and so were the wire strings.
Maria and Tony decided that maybe it would be better to wait two weeks instead of one to let the piano adjust. This was fine with Heather. She was tired after the long trip from the showroom back east and the bumpy ride on some of the roads they had to take. Most of the trip was on freeways but there still had been some rough roads in places. When the two weeks were up Tony called in the piano tuner. The tuner had to make a total of three trips before the strings would hold their pitch. Then he came back once more and installed a climate control system inside the piano. Heather loved this.
Heather was very comfortable at all times now staying at a constant temperature and humidity inside the cabinet. Maria lovingly polished her cabinet and cleaned the keys and the beautiful piano was all ready to be played. So far no one had touched her for fear of harming the strings or action that needed to adjust to the difference in the climate, but now it was ready.
Maria sat down first and gently tried a few scales and then some beautiful melodic pieces. “Listen to this tone,” she said to Tony who was impatiently waiting for his turn to try it. She played one more song, a little livelier tune this time and then let Tony sit down. He also ran through a few warm up scales and then proceeded to play a Beethoven sonata with great passion.
“It’s perfect and the response of the keys is just right,” Tony said. “I’m really very happy with it,” he continued. “Let’s have a party next week to show the piano off to our friends in the music world.”
Heather was very excited. Maria and Tony planned on giving a short recital at the party to demonstrate the quality of sound their new instrument had.
The piano had actually been made in Europe, in Germany to be exact and had been shipped to the United States by sea. The final adjustments and tempering were not done until it reached New York City. This was where Heather had met up with it, fell in love with it and decided to make it her home. She entered the body of the piano before the final adjustments were made and was an intricate part of the final tuning of the piano before it started its long trip west.
Tony and Maria had seen pianos like it at a musical instrument show in Los Angeles two years earlier and had spotted this particular model in a brochure. They were in the process of building their southwest home and had decided that it was the perfect model for their new house. They were impressed with the quality of workmanship and the action and sound of the other models made by the same company, so they ordered this one to be delivered after their house was finished.
Now here Heather was in the desert southwest where she had wanted to be for a long time. “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M REALLY HERE,” thought Heather. “NOW THAT I’M INSIDE THIS BEAUTIFUL INSTRUMENT I CAN EXPRESS THE BEAUTY OF THE DESERT AND MOUNTAINS ALL AROUND. I DO SO ENJOY THE TREES AND FLOWERS; ESPECIALLY THE CACTUS FLOWERS THAT GROW HERE AND I LOVE ALL THE DIFFERENT BIRDS INCLUDING THE ROADRUNNERS.”
Heather loved Indian folklore. Maria and Tony composed their own music on her that sounded like some of the Indian rituals and dances and also the sounds of their chanting. She was so very happy. In fact, she couldn’t be happier. She thought she couldn’t contain her happiness. Everything was so perfect.
The night of the party finally got there. The guests arrived, took seats in the large living room and the recital began. First Maria played several songs including one of her own compositions that reminded Heather of the birds singing in the trees and the sound of a small stream rushing nearby. Heather put her heart and soul into this piece because she loved it.
Then it was Tony’s turn. He played several pieces and also ended with one of his own compositions. His piece was more like an Indian war dance and took a lot of hard work on Heather’s part to keep up the pace and volume the piece required.
Tony and Maria’s friends were very impressed and there was much lively talk about the piano after the recital. Others sat down and tried a few notes on it. Some people looked inside, some inspected her climate control system and others just stroked her beautiful finish. Pictures were taken of the beautiful music rack and the carvings on the front. Then everyone went off to the dining room where they enjoyed a delicious dinner and eventually went home.
“Wasn’t the party fun?” Maria asked as they cleaned up afterwards.
“It sure was,” Tony replied. “I think everyone was really impressed with our beautiful new piano and even a little envious of us for having it,” Tony replied.
They finally went to bed and the house was dark and quiet. Heather was tired and was almost asleep herself when she felt the first sensation of heat. She was very hot, she realized, and was getting hotter. She wondered if the electricity had gone off and the air conditioners weren’t working.
She realized that she was on fire! “OH NO,” she thought, “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?” She wanted to scream and finally did when her strings started breaking and flying up and hitting the sounding board. They made a terrible sound.
“What was that noise?” Maria asked as she and Tony woke up.
Smelling the smoke he hollered, “The house is on fire,” and called the fire department. “Let’s get out of here fast,” he said. They left the house that was all ablaze by this time. He said to Maria, “Do you realize that the sound of the strings breaking on the piano is what woke us up and actually saved our life?”
Heather realized that she too must leave. She was so sad to have to leave the body of this piano she loved so much, but she couldn’t stay in it anymore. It was being destroyed right in front of her eyes. She had loved it so her heart was breaking in pieces. She waited until the last minute before rising up out of the piano and fleeing outside, hovering over the scene while the fire department arrived and eventually put out the fire.
Hours later Heather allowed herself to enter the burned house to see her beloved instrument. “WHAT A MESS,” she thought. “IT LOOKS SO DESOLATE AND FORLORN AND IT’S BURNED ALMOST BEYOND KNOWING WHAT IT WAS,” she thought. Of course the metal parts had not burned and that was about all that was left. Heather’s heart was broken. “I WAITED SO LONG TO FIND JUST THE PERFECT, BEAUTIFUL PIANO TO BE IN AND ONE THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO THE PLACE WHERE I WANTED TO LIVE. IT HAD ALL BEEN SO RIGHT,” she thought. She was so sad and felt that never again would she have everything she had wanted, such as a beautiful body, loving family and a great home in the area of her choice. “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?” she asked herself again.
Tony and Maria were asking this very same question and so was the fire inspector when he came. The inspector eventually discovered that the fire had actually started inside the piano with the climate control system.
Tony said to the inspector, “Some of the guests at our party had been looking at the climate control system.”
The inspector answered. “Someone must have rearranged the way the wires were plugged in and without meaning to, had caused the electrical unit to short out. This started the fire that climbed up the leg of the piano until it reached the body. The finish on the piano that had given it such a deep shine was actually very flammable. This caused the flames to spread through the piano very fast until finally catching the furniture on fire,” the inspector continued.
Heather didn’t know what she was going to do now. She was so very sad. She stayed around the area for a while, but Maria and Tony, the couple who had owned her, had to move because their house was destroyed. They couldn’t build a new one until the insurance claim was settled so they moved to Los Angeles. Heather didn’t especially want to live in Los Angeles so she joined some of her friends who were floating around because they didn’t want to enter an instrument just now. Heather kept watching and searching for another set of circumstances that could put her back in the same area. After many years of waiting, she finally decided that she never would find a situation so perfect and so beautiful again. She had to overcome her sadness and her heartbreak. Her friends helped her with this. They advised her that she really needed to use her talents in a way that she couldn’t use them while floating around in the sky.
Heather finally settled on a piano that was sitting in a music store in Phoenix, in the used piano section. It was not anywhere near as glorious or beautiful as the last one she had been in. This one had just been purchased by a school that was far removed from the city and had mostly Indian children attending it. She had decided that perhaps it would be better to serve in a position of helping less fortunate people this time around. She had been so wrapped up in the beauty of the last instrument that she actually didn’t feel like she had accomplished much in the way of helping anyone. She had been in an atmosphere of content and beauty and uselessness. She had been serving as a pet for the ego of her owners. Her friends helped her to see that she would be serving a much more useful purpose if she entered the piano going to the school where little Indian children could learn about the glories of music.
After drying her tears and willing herself to forget how beautiful she had been, she finally entered the ugly little brown spinet piano on the day it was being delivered to the Indian school. Once at the school she was immediately besieged by children. Marty started trying to play on the piano with her clumsy hands. Tom and Fred even used their fists on the keyboard. At last Mr. Wilson the teacher got control of them and got them to leave her alone.
Mr. Wilson finally had to put a lock on Heather’s cabinet to keep her from being destroyed. Then a new teacher, Mr. Johnson, appeared at the school, one who played the piano very well. He began giving lessons to the children after school. They couldn’t afford to pay him, but he did it because he loved music and he loved the Indian children. He taught them to respect the instrument and to take care of it and showed them that they could get it to obey their every thought if they treated it right.
It took Heather quite awhile to adjust to her new circumstances. Because of the kindly new teacher, she really started enjoying helping the Indian children learn about music and learn how to play nicely on the keyboard. She served at this school until they finally closed it and the children were bussed to a new, bigger school. Those in charge decided the old piano wouldn’t fit into the new school and wasn’t needed, so they had it destroyed. Heather was once again without an instrument to express through, but this time she was very satisfied with herself for what she had accomplished. She was at ease with herself and took a long rest before looking for another piano in which she could become involved again in the world of music.