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Obligatory Silence by Claire Tollefsrud

Obligatory Silence

by Claire Tollefsrud



“Do you play any instruments?” For some reason people always ask that question.

You want to tell the truth: “Yes, I used to.”

But then they ask, “Which one?”

“The piano.”

“That’s a great instrument,” they say. “Why did you stop?”

They wait expectantly, wanting an easy answer, a normal answer. But you’re tired of lying to stay comfortable.

“My older brother was studying piano in college,” you say.

And if they know anything about your family they’ll shut up real fast. The blood will drain from their face and they’ll quickly change the subject, or leave, or say something stupid like, “I’m sorry.”

Not their fault. You wish it were, though, so you could be mad at someone.

Instead, when people ask, “Do you play any instruments,” you say, “no.”

Then you go to the empty, quiet room in your house, where the picture frames have started gathering dust. You sit on the bench in front of the grand piano and let your fingers brush the keys, rifle through the yellowing sheet music. One day, you tell yourself, you’ll play again. Start with one song, something slow and easy, and then work your way back up to harder stuff. Feel that love of music again.

Yes, one day you’ll do that. Not today though. Not today.




Claire TollefsrudClaire Tollefsrud is an undergraduate student working on a double major in Psychology and Creative Writing. Storytelling has always been a passion of hers. She also enjoys Tae Kwon Do, singing, and going on small, everyday adventures.