Fantaisie Impromptu

To steal time.

Fantaisie Impromptu
Photo by Geert Pieters / Unsplash

by Elena Zhang

I use rubato like Chopin, like my mother. To steal time. Rubato is when you speed up, then slow down, my piano teacher tells me. You cut the legs off decrepit notes and choke their reverberations, giving the extra heartbeats to a hungry melody. My fingers rush through “I’m always chasing” and slow down to savor “rainbows.” When my mother’s wristwatch finally stops ticking, I give birth to my child, and it hurts but his cries are beautiful. That’s just physics, my piano teacher says, just the conservation of finite breaths, but I think she is confusing a woman’s body with thermodynamics, where entropy stretches on until forever, and the end never sounded so good.

Elena Zhang is a writer and mother living in Chicago. Her work can be found in HAD, JAKE, Bending Genres, Exposition Review, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @ezhang77