Artificial Sounds
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Artificial Sounds

Reggie was trying his best but found he had little patience for electronic keyboards. The notes sounded so artificial. He should have never let Evelyn Jane talk him into buying this sorry excuse for a piano that he now kept in the upstairs living room. It didn't even have real strings. If he wanted to compete for pop-synth douche-bag of the year he was well on his way.

Giving up, he switched over to play something in minor key, a pretty but sad type of sound. It sounded a hundred times better on the baby grand. He had been thinking of it for days now, in his head. It was mostly inspired by Alanna Thackery, and if he ever perfected it, he’d play it on a real piano for her.

“That’s something different,” Reggie heard his sister say from over his shoulder. He made a slight jump at her sudden appearance. She was dressed to the nines as usual. He couldn't remember a time in her teen years that she appeared casual or slovenly. She cared too much about her image, but didn't they all? With a last name like Orbinson you had to. The only exception was his hair which was currently sticking out at all angles because he hadn't gelled it that morning.

“It’s something new I thought of,” he replied and continued to play. She sat on the desk behind him to listen further. “It’s for Alanna.”

He didn’t have a chance to see Evelyn Jane’s eyes narrow as she said in a patronizing tone, “That’s cute and all Reggie but don’t let yourself get distracted from the competition.”

She stood to leave, paused, and added, “I don’t understand why you are so interested in her anyway, she seems rather dull.”

Reggie made an ugly sounding chord by smashing the keys before he stood to face his sister, anger clearly burning through his blue eyes.

“Just because you are too snobby to associate with most people, doesn’t make them dull. Alanna is wonderful.”

Evelyn Jane was momentarily taken aback by her bother’s attitude. He had such a docile personality but she must have really hit a nerve to make him snap like that.

“Tell me, if she is as wonderful as you claim then why haven’t you called her yet?”

He crossed his arms and grit his teeth, “I’ve been busy with practicing on this thing,” he gestured toward the electronic keyboard with disdain, “and I wanted to give her space. Not come off too eager, you know?”

“That’s not how women work Reggie. If you don’t contact them after you kiss them they will lose interest and move on.”

He hadn’t told his sister that he had kissed Alanna, but she could have figured it out from the way he had been smiling like a doofus all weekend.

“Oh yeah? Have you moved on from Shaun Piper? Because the phone has been awfully quiet!” Reggie retorted with a raised voice, causing Evelyn Jane to lose her composure entirely. He couldn’t have known the whole truth but was smart enough to guess what had transpired. Evelyn Jane had been particularly gleeful after returning from her outing at the Maestro’s. It was as if she had won a game of chess. Her current reaction proved it and her new constant absence every day after lunch was suspicious enough.

“Don’t say that so loudly, Mother or father could hear you,” she started forward in a sharp, annoyed whisper but Reggie had his back turned on her and was already on the move, heading down the stairs.

He grabbed up the cordless phone from the sitting room and dialed Alanna’s phone number. She had given it to him last year in Chemistry class when they were partners and he had looked at it enough, memorized it even, yet never found the right time to call her but now was the time. He’d ask her on a real date.

“Hello?” a voice answered on the other line.

“Hello Alanna, it’s Reggie-” he began but the voice cut him off abruptly.

“This is Alarie. Alanna isn’t here. She’s out on a date right now. Do you wanna leave a message?”

First of all, it was unsettling how much Alarie sounded like Alanna over the phone. Secondly, his heart seemed to crack open at hearing these words. He must have been silent for too long because Alarie made an impatient sound by clearing her throat.

“Uh, no message. Goodbye.”

He hung up the phone and sighed, a great ache forming in his chest where his heart had cracked. Had Alanna lied to him? She said she had liked him; they had kissed so passionately in that little corner of the museum, and now she was out on a date with someone else? His sister was right, no matter how much he hated to admit it.

Speaking of the Devil, she entered the living room then, clearly having eavesdropped but she gave him a look of sympathy. “Don’t let this get you down, she's never been in your league anyway.”

He wanted to protest, thinking of all the great memories he had of his Chemistry partner. She seemed so kind, so interesting, but at that moment he felt like Alanna Thackery was as artificial as the sounds made from his electronic keyboard, and didn’t have the heart to disagree with his sister.

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