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Small Things

(A Short Story)

It was the day after Christmas in a busy airport in the Southeast in which this holiday classic took place. While delayed for my connecting flight home, I went to the airport’s version of the “hotel lobby bar” at the center of the airport to escape some of the controlled chaos taking placing at the gate. Airports during the holidays are filled with parents trying to entertain their excited children, attempting to keep their interest and keep them in good behavior. This airport was no different so I decided to find my way to a somewhat safety zone that appeared to be quiet and out of the action.

This area made for a great place to set up camp in the mid-day hours as the bar was not open yet and most travelers were running right by this section thinking it was completely closed. The area only hosted a few airline employees catching a nap in the lounge section and a few people eating their lunch at the bar.

I made my way to a table that could see most of the open-air-style bar, but I had my own private corner blocked by some columns and other tables. The area was fairly quiet considering all of the hustle and bustle passing the section on the concourse’s main walkway. The peacefulness was altered when sounds of a piano came to life near the bar. I heard the baby grand piano playing a beautiful piece of music that I recognized but did not pay too much attention to as it seemed to be only a portion of a classic piece.

After a moments rest, the piano warmed back up and filled the airport with a full, rich, orchestra-quality sound that was played with such perfection that people passing by in the terminal began to gather and circle around the piano. I leaned down and out from my chair to peer under the row of tables and around the columns that blocked my view. I could see just the tip of the piano and its raised top, but could not see any human legs or feet from my under-shot viewpoint. From my vantage point, I could only see the stanchions that roped-off the piano and thought to myself, “a player-piano … what a nice customer service element for the holiday season.”

Immediately following the last note a roar of applause, whistling and screams of “encore” filled the large open space of the airport concourse.

There was a break for a moment and the impromptu audience began to settle down. I could see the stanchion ropes swing and another song began. My interest had now peaked and I made my way over to the piano. I continued to look for the person or persons that created this excitement, but I could not see anyone.

As I made my full turn around the piano I found a seven-year-old boy playing by memory with no sheet music! It was an amazing site to see this little guy lean against the bench, too short to sit on it and reach the pedals, and watch his small hands perform this magic. It was with great holiday joy that I stood and watched this young boy keep all of the grownups entertained and out of trouble. His performances included pieces I knew from Phantom of the Opera and masterpieces I recognized, but do not know the name. I had a feeling of ironic pleasure – I wanted to go buy him a toy to thank him for doing such a professional job.

After each song and round of applause the boy would run from the piano and crawl under the ropes of the stanchions in embarrassment. He would hide behind his father until he had the courage to come back and perform another masterpiece.

It always amazes me what a powerful impact the small things in life have on us.

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