Friday, 3 June 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Piano Lesson" by Julia Webb

The Piano Lesson

When I asked Daddy if I could learn the piano, he said NO because MUSIC IS THE DEVIL’S WORK. When Daddy was away doing GOD’S WORK Mama took us to visit the end-of- the-row neighbours. They are secret friends because they are BAPTISTS. They have our house back-to- front and a real live piano which sometimes I am allowed to play. Steve taught me COCKLES AND MUSSELS ALIVE ALIVE-O and in bed that night I sang the song to Alice. I was just getting to the good bit about the GHOST when Daddy banged in shouting STOP THAT NOISE, DON’T YOU KNOW THAT DUBLIN IS FULL OF HEATHENS AND PAPISTS? I didn’t know what a papist was, but I asked Daddy is Molly Malone a Papist? which made Alice snort with laughter. Daddy didn’t answer; he just slammed out again muttering about Papists and the devil. I hummed Cockles and Mussels under my breath until I fell asleep, and that night I dreamt that I was Molly Malone and my barrow looked a lot like a piano but with limpets stuck all over it like the rocks on the beach at the Sunday School outing.

Julia Webb
Bird Sisters (Nine Arches, 2016)

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