"You're a broken piano," I told him. "You're chipped, you're out of tune. No one wants to hear you."
"That's true," he said. And then silence.
Perhaps I'd gone too far. Slammed the keys. I wanted him to see, but I didn't want him to hurt. I turned back to the shattered pot on the floor, the soil spattered in crumbs. It was so out of place--the dirt--like something we'd stolen. It didn't belong and I had the mad urge to return it outside, to the rain, so it wouldn't be dry. Dead.
"Tune me," he finally said, playing along with my metaphor. "Listen to my distorted sound, then, and change me."
"There's something melancholic of a tune off-key, don't you think?" I replied. "The way dust settles on the strings, why would I change that?"
He allowed a small grin. The keys were okay. He bent to his knees and gingerly collected the plant, his hair hiding his face. He whispered something, and I didn't catch it, but I didn't think I was supposed to. He got back to his feet and held the plant with both his hands open, palms-up.
"It's not an olive branch," he said, "but it will have flowers."
It's true. There were small buds,fragile promises. I blew on the plant, wanting my warm breath to encourage it: "Bloom."