Me, Cinderella?

By: Aubrey Rose

Again a lie. I never lied. But something in me wanted to keep the handsome man in the black coat a secret. Something special. Just for me.

“Oh cool, I didn’t see you there,” Mark said, pushing his glasses up on his nose. “Did you hear they might open up the midnight piano room on Sunday?”

“Really?” I asked.

“The what?” Quentin sounded annoyed. “Pianos? Really, people? Can we please get back to these proofs?” He had three pages of scrawled notes in front of him and looked as though he wanted to set the whole thing on fire.

“You’d like this,” Mark said, ignoring his protests. “It’s a ghost story.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts,” Quentin said dryly. “Unless it’s the ghost of Euclid haunting this problem set.”

“That bad?” I said, not looking forward to the work.

“It’s the hardest problem set we’ve done all year.”

“No, but really. There’s a ghost in the practice hall,” Mark insisted, his eyes bright behind his glasses. “You’ve heard the story, right Brynn?”

“Sure,” I said. My eyes quickly scanned the problem set, which did indeed look menacing. “The midnight piano ghost.”

“See? Everybody who plays has heard of it.”

“The music department has a ghost? No fucking way.” Quentin’s voice was tinged with curiosity. “Tell me.”

Mark pulled the candle across the table and bent down so that the electric flame illuminated him from under his chin, reflecting in his dark eyes. When he spoke, he tried to sound eerie, but his somewhat-nasal voice spoiled the effect.

“There’s a room in the back of the practice hall that’s always been locked. Inside is a really old Bosendorfer piano.”

“Not just any Bosendorfer. A Grand Imperial Bosendorfer. Eight octaves,” I added.

“Thanks for the lesson, music nerd,” Quentin said. “What about the ghost?”

“Nobody’s ever seen it,” Mark said, his voice lowering. “But late at night, really late at night…”

“Midnight, if you want to be exact,” I interjected.

“Just when the clock strikes midnight,” Mark continued, “if you listen, you can hear the ghost playing in that locked room.”

Quentin’s eyes widened.

“No fucking way.”

“Way,” Mark said.

“So which problem are you guys working on?” I said. I’d heard this tale too many times to be impressed. Quentin shoved the book my way, his finger pressed to the second practice section.

“Why won’t they open the ghost room up?” Quentin asked, still riveted by Mark’s story. Of course, it was just a story, no matter how many times the music majors repeated it in hushed tones. Nobody believed that there was actually a ghost in the old locked room. Some prankster with a remote control playing a radio through the air ducts, more like.

“Some rich philanthropist guy gifted the piano to the school,” Mark said, shoving the candle back to the center of the table. “I guess they don’t want anyone messing it up, so they don’t let anyone use it.”

“Makes sense,” Quentin said, rolling his eyes. “Music people.”

“But Dr. Stetson said they might be opening it up Sunday for a special showing to music majors,” Mark said.

“So much for us second-class citizens.” I lifted my eyes away from my textbook and joined Mark in an exaggerated shrug. The music majors always looked down their nose at the math and science kids who came to the practice halls to play just for fun.

“You couldn’t go anyway, dummies,” Quentin said. “We have that thing on Sunday.”

“What thing?” Mark said.

“The internship Budapest thing. The one with all the tests and shit.”

“That’s Sunday?”

“I’ve only reminded you every day for the past week,” Quentin said.

“Oh, shit,” I said. With all the panic over upcoming exams, I had forgotten what day it was. “Sunday?” My job had me scheduled all afternoon.

“Look at this,” Quentin said, leaning back in his chair and balancing on only two legs while he spread his arms out, gesturing toward me and Mark. “The creme de la fucking creme, and they forget the most basic of shit. This is the test of the year, assholes.”

“I didn’t forget,” Mark said. “I just forgot the day.”

“You there, Brynn?” Quentin snapped his finger in front of my nose.

My attention returned to the table.

“Yeah,” I said. “I have to get someone to cover my shift.”

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