Lilies; the flower of mourning. The smell made Ella remember her mother, the car accident, and her death. Ella may have been too young to understand what death was but she was at least old enough to know that her mother was gone forever.
Her mother Julie was a strong-willed woman who’d pushed Ella to follow her passion for piano. She used to tell Ella that playing the piano was just as easy as breathing, it was a talent ingrained in their family’s blood. To Ella though she didn’t understand what her mother meant, thinking about her father it was evident he didn’t have a musical bone in his body. Still, he loved to hear Ella and her mother play songs as a duo, always being a constant pillar of security to Ella’s love of piano.
After her mother left, Ella’s father drifted farther from her and society and closer to alcohol. No longer was he a pillar of security but a painful reminder of the past as well as a present shut-in drunk.
From then on every dream Ella ever had when she slept was of losing her mother all over again. It would start with a younger version of Ella playing in her front yard, the still rising sun beaming down making her blonde hair gleam and shine making spots of light move on the grass with every step she took. Her jittery steps of anticipation waiting for her mother to return home from her night shift at the nearby arts school.
Once her mother came into Ella’s sight Ella would push off her tiny legs jumping up and down trying to flag her mother down. Julie would waver her gaze from the road to watch Ella’s silly antics until the sound of a horn coming from the opposite direction blasted out. Ella would turn her head towards the sound and observe her mother’s car swerve off the road into another.
The smell of gas would burn Ella’s nose but she still tried to search for her mother to no avail. Smoke slowly filled Ella’s lungs causing a painful burning sensation to start in her throat. No sound would come out of her mouth when screaming for help. A sense of hopelessness would overtake her body leaving her frozen unable to do anything.
The dream never got any farther than that Ella wouldn’t let it. Not if she could help it, course, once in awhile, she would see snippets of the cars burning and clawing at her mother’s car with bleeding nails. Watching her mother’s motionless body with her head twister in such a way that it looked like a scene out of a horror movie, would bring the dream to maximum terror. It wasn’t a horror movie though it was a childhood memory.
Every time the dream would end with unshed tears in her eyes. Most children who lost a parent in such a horrifying way might go get treatment or help, but Ella? She had no time or money to deal with therapists. Not to mention her father wasn’t in the right state of mind himself to really talk through the impact her mother death truly had on the both of them.
Slipping out of the bed Ella would walk four steps, no more no less, and sit on the old white mahogany stool next to her well-used white grand piano. All keys were tuned to perfection making every note slipping out of it precise.
Tomorrow would be the first day back after winter break, she would once again be back at school having to deal with the drama of who was dating who and have guys fawning over her friends. It wasn’t stereotyping due to the fact it was an arts school but the honest truth was that Ella’s school was ten times worse than other when it came to drama. Especially with all the tightly wound students that had just finished exams less than a week earlier coming back to find out how they did.
Ella snorted at the thought of friends.
She had no friends, though it wasn’t from a lack of trying. All her time spent at school was in class or in the piano hall. There was no time for friends; Ella needed to keep practicing to keep her scholarship. Since Ella was first in the entire piano section of the classical music branch she had been given extra privileges for practicing as well as a contract to keep her scholarship for another semester.
Slowly Ella glided her fingers over all eighty-eight keys of the piano. Ella’s mother had taught her how to play and from a young age, she had been categorized as a musical prodigy. Smiling, Ella remembered her first recital and how her mother cheered for her louder than anyone else in the audience.
Closing the piano’s cover Ella hummed her mother’s favorite song, Clair de Lune.
Looking over at her clock she wasn’t surprised by the time, 7:14. The same time she always woke only to go back to the same dream. Just like clockwork, reminding her of what happened at that time almost twelve years ago. This was Ella’s routine. Repeating itself over and over again.
Never changing, just like her.