John Egbert played the piano.
He still can play the piano. It isn’t like he couldn’t play, if there was a piano to play on, but he’s pretty sure all the pianos are gone and there’s no time to work out alchemizing a whole piano when you’re being a friendleader.
There are no pianos anymore, so John Egbert, despite his functioning fingers and brain, does not play the piano.
His dad made him play the piano. Before. He had to go to lessons with an old lady who had four cats and whose house smelled like baked good and sometimes he had to go to her church and play in front of the other old ladies who told him how cute he was and he begged his dad to let him stop because all the other kids got to quit music lessons in, like, elementary school and he’s in seventh grade.
His dad wouldn’t let him stop, though, and he would hide out in his room to avoid having to practice because playing Mozart and Beethoven and Bach was lame, so lame, and if Dave knew John played the piano John would never hear the end of it.
Actually, he kind of liked playing the piano. Just a little bit. Secretly, he didn’t mind playing, and sometimes when his dad was out he would sit down and play just for fun.
Because even though Mozart and Beethoven and Bach were old dead guys and nobody but dads listen to old dead guys, when he played their songs he could kind of see why they were such a big freakin’ deal. And he saw maybe why people were still playing the piano even though the electric guitar had been invented.
Because when he was playing the piano, he felt like he was on an adventure. Which was really lame. At least, it sounded lame when he said it to himself in his head, so he wasn’t going to say it out loud to anyone. But playing the piano felt like he was soaring high above the clouds, like he was valiantly fighting off deadly monsters, like he was standing alone on a hilltop as the wind blew through his hair and whipped his cape around so he looked like a really cool guy. Like a hero.
Playing the piano made him feel like a hero.
And it made him feel cool and lame at the same time, because being a hero felt cool, but knowing that you only felt like a hero because you were playing the lame piano made you feel like a big dork. So he would always stop playing quickly and go up to his room and talk to Dave, who would have made fun of why John secretly wanted to play the piano if John ever told him so he was best person to talk to at times like that.
But now there are no more pianos, and he has to be an actual hero, or a friendleader anyway, a palhoncho, and now he knows that being a hero is sometimes flying, and sometimes it’s fighting monsters, but it’s very little standing on hilltops looking cool, because you don’t feel cool while you’re being a hero.
You just feel kind of scared and lonely.
When you’re being a hero, you just wish you had a piano to play.