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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: Middle C
By Marlene Bonney


Carl was reluctantly saying good-bye to his cherished old upright piano, a relic from his great-grandparents' farmhouse back in Tennessee. Fondly nicknamed “Old Faithful” by the family, it had been transported all over the country from his home in Michigan to wherever his next concert tour was located. It was rather eccentric to include such a cumbersome instrument in his menagerie, but, to Carl, it was a talisman of sorts. He had become attached to it as one does to an old slipper, adapting to its worn places over time and comfortable in the familiarity of an old friend. The expense and challenge of keeping Old Faithful tuned and repaired was nothing compared to the success he believed he had achieved by holding onto his beloved piano. But, as most things do, it had worn out, the ultimate crisis of the broken Middle C key the deciding factor of its demise. Even replacing the connections in the piano’s innards had not worked this time and, as a result, Carl’s performances were suffering. The piano doc’s terminal diagnosis was a crushing blow, and Carl had tried to ward off the inevitable by suggesting a complete overhaul of replaced strings, hammers, tuning and bridge pins, dampers, wires and keys. In the long run, however, he knew this would change the piano’s unique character and sound, making it into a stranger one chances to meet on a subway.

Carl stroked the piano’s keys one last time, playing an old Irish ballad that, like a warm security blanket, had always comforted him in the past. But the absent Middle C key notes made the piece almost unrecognizable. He tried playing an octave higher and an octave lower, but even then, it was not the same, the aria needing the balance of the mid keys to accentuate its beautifully haunting rhythm and tones. It was time. He had to give her up.

During the following months, Carl practiced on his new state-of-the-art baby grand piano. It’s polished wood surface gleamed and the pristine white keys were as unblemished and perfect as a set of brand new dentures. Eventually, his fingers flew across the ivories as he adapted to their slickness, so unlike Old Faithful’s age-roughened and nicked keys. Much as he missed Old Faithful, he had to admit it was refreshing not to be chained to an instrument’s inefficiencies, and breaking old habits of dealing with these was easier than he had anticipated.

Carl’s audiences gave him standing ovations and he received rave reviews as his expertise expanded into heretofore unplumbed depths, a maestro’s touch guided by his heavenly Father’s hands. This is what he had prayed for from the beginning when he was taking lessons from a renowned piano teacher, to give God glory through the music He planted in his soul.

“When I play, I feel God’s smiling blessing upon me,” he would tell a magazine editor.

Now, years later, Carl looked back and saw his Father’s leading through the catastrophe of Old Faithful’s Middle C broken key, and wondered about what might have been if he had been willing to give up the old piano earlier in his career. For now, arthritis in his previously nimble fingers was affecting his natural ability, eventually betraying him more than that broken key, for they would no longer obey the commands from his heart and mind.

Instead of plunging into despair over this great loss in his life, Carl dug deeper into God’s Word and learned that God could use him in alternative ways. He became an inspirational motivational speaker, sharing the truths God had taught him through the Middle C broken key lesson, one of which was that a person can be so comfortable with the dysfunctional that he can miss a better plan God has for his life. He closes each seminar with the exact middle verse of the Bible, Psalm 118:8:

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man,” explaining how all need the balance of that middle key to keep grounded.

Today, before Carl heads out on another conference, he sits down at his baby grand piano and strikes the Middle C key to remind himself of days gone by and how a broken piano key tuned his soul to God’s new direction.

And he feels God’s smile warming his heart as he departs.

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This article has been read 262 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Myrna Noyes02/21/13
This is a lovely, well-written story with a powerful message!

You had some very nice descriptive sentences such as:
"It’s polished wood surface gleamed and the pristine white keys were as unblemished and perfect as a set of brand new dentures."

I enjoyed reading this very much!
C D Swanson 02/23/13
Enjoyed this entire piece. Thank you. God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 02/24/13
Very descriptive, with a positive challenge flowing through the whole piece.