She plays the piano in the bookstore down the street. I hear it every time I stop by the crepe stand on the corner. The music she plays drifts through the single open window and grows every time someone leaves or enters the shop. She's there every day, except the third Thursday of each month and plays almost all day long. The owner of the crepe stand says she just likes to play the piano and it's wasting her talent. I don't think so.
I stop by the crepe stand today, it's a rainy Wednesday and there's nothing I'd rather do than to sit in my flat with warm dry socks and hot chocolate. The music is different today, fitting for a rainy day, heavy without overpowering the melody. It's the kind of music they play in vintage French romance films when Pierre and Marie leave each other broken hearted in the rain. I never enter the book store, just pay for my crepe and leave. But today is cold and windy and the crepe stand doesn't sell coffee.
The shop door is heavy and it slams behind me. It smells like paper and dust and the faint remnants of coffee grounds. The shop owner is a little old lady who fusses over my drenched pea coat and wool scarf. She takes them away from me and hangs them by the fire where I stand awkwardly while she bustles about getting me a cup of strong coffee. She's still playing the piano in the niche by the window.
She's playing without sheet music, just following the music inside her head. I'm jealous. I played when I was younger, but nothing like this. The piano is an extension of her body, her eyes are closed, but she doesn't need to see, her fingers know where they're going anyway. Each song melds into another seamlessly and it's hard to tell where one song ends and another begins. In fact, it's hard not to stare at her, brown hair curls down her back and I'd guess she's not more than 23 years old.
The shop owner comes back with a cup of coffee and I drink it in silence listening to her. The rain makes no sign of slowing, if anything it's pouring even harder. The music joins the pounding rain on the windows, making a symphony in this little bookshop. I finish my coffee and thank the owner. She refuses payment, but I stick some money in a book on the counter when she gets my coat from the fireplace.
She plays the piano in the bookstore down the street. I hear it every time I stop by the crepe stand on the corner. And sometimes when it's raining, I stop in, for a cup of coffee and to listen to the private concert in the rain.