The Fruit Trees

A man sits at his battered piano, in a little church, on a weathered hill top, overlooking the sea. The church has a Crucifix carved into one pediment, a Star of David in another and a Star and Crescent in another. There’s a Hindu Om, a Druid Triple Spiral, a Wheel of Dharma and an Eye of Horus. The little church is a pantheon.

The pianist at the battered piano is battered himself. He’s not only the last pianist, but one of the last humans, hiding amidst the protective aura put out by the many religious symbols that emblazon his little church.

His food is about to run out. When it does, he will have to venture beyond the protection of his sanctuary. Instead, he ventures not through space, but through time. Conjuring the will of all the Gods, from all the religions, he is able to venture into the past in search of the food that he needs to preserve himself, and in turn, humanity itself. Suddenly, there’s a flash and he’s short of breath.

He arrives on the hill upon which his church will one day be built. He advances cautiously towards the town below. He has heard tales of the people that once lived in the town. It has been off limits to him for most of his life. Now that he has been granted passage to walk in the past he must make the most of it.

A pub sits proudly on the main street. In it, a piano. The patrons are playing parlour pieces and jingles, laughing and joking to the thick smell of beer. The time-traveller approaches, his eyes fixed on the instrument. It’s momentarily unattended and he takes a seat. He plays the first three notes of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor (https://youtu.be/3X4ez9HQ9ks) with such force and conviction that the bar falls silent. He draws out a long pause just enough to have everyone on the edge of their seats.

Isolated in his little church on the hill, the only company the time-traveller had was his piano. Before that he had a family, but the hunger had taken them. The same hunger that was about to claim him. In the meantime, he had mastered the art of performing to himself and the wind and rain. Now he must compel these people from the past to preserve humanity with the power of his music.

The bar patrons are engrossed by the flowing legatos and sinuous crescendos and diminuendos. They are rapt. He plays the final whisper and the crowd is silent.

There isn’t a sound.

Then the applause flows freely. There are cheers and whoops. People on the street have ventured in to admire the spectacle. The man makes one request of his appreciative crowd. “Please, good people. Plant a seed on the hill if you were moved by this performance.”

The man starts walking back towards his hill, feeling that he has given all he can. A flash of light and a feeling of breathlessness comes over him. Suddenly the town is in ruin and his church is sitting up on the hill in the distance, in the future.

The man runs as fast as he can before he succumbs to the dangers around him. He reaches the hill and bashes his way through an orchard of fruit trees that was not there before. He trips on apples and pears which litter the ground before he reaches his door. The townspeople obviously appreciated his music. They planted a forest of fruit trees around his little church. He barges through to safety. Sitting before him are a well-fed woman and child. “Hello, love” says the woman. “Hello, father” says the child.

T

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