Daniel delighted at the sounds that would be made in his absence. He could hear them now. The outcries at being introduced to a lesson that no one would want to learn. Far more valuable than the grubby notes that lay in the bank under Daniel’s name.
Of course, his absence would be sizeable. He was a big man. At the age of just 9 years old, he proved to be bigger than all the other boys his age, even at the most aggressive point in their growth spurts.
He was tall. His shins were the size of “4 octaves on a piano”. This may seem an odd measurement, but it was a thorn in his huge heart. His large digits had tried to wriggle this bloody stump out, but despite improvement, the scar still twinged every so often. At 12 years old, he had shown the work ethic and the desire to hone his musical talent and wanted to become a classical pianist. Daniel dreamed of filling orchestra halls with the uneducated, and over the course of the evening bewitch each pair of ears with the incomparable beauty; the tremulous majesty of the piano. His ambitions were as well built as his limbs. This was not just a flimsy hope, or a daily mantra for his attention to switch elsewhere by the next sunrise. He knew that this was his path to tread. It had therefore been particularly painful to be told that he would grow to be the size of a man who was too big even for the grandest of grand pianos. The teacher who had told Daniel this, on seeing that the young boy couldn’t possibly grasp the horror of this sentence, made sure that he fully understood by saying ‘Look, Sweetheart, we’ve had the measurements in. Your feet are already as long as A-G twice over, your back, closer to a Clavinova keyboard. You’re just too big for the piano’, and then her eyes lit up, promising something else. ‘The local zoo needs someone to feed the giraffes - the older they get the less flexible their necks become-I should know, I grew up on safari; learned the xylophone under the careful eye of Africa’s first-ever documented musical chimpanzee’. She sighed, trying to be maternal, ‘I know it’s different to what you had in mind’.
Lynette, a tactless but well-meaning woman, was right. Daniel completely understood. Although, to use his love as a weapon against him, and to bludgeon his dreams with his own passion, seemed unfair. She was like that though. Talented when it came to musical notes, and yet, totally without skill in human affairs. What stung, even more, was that Daniel had a crippling fear of giraffes. It was their eyelashes. They unnerved him.
You may think that a benefit of Daniel’s anatomy could at least be the part of a man’s body normally celebrated for an unusually large size, however, this area of him proved to be disappointingly average in the shadow it cast.
As ever, when it seems that one opportunity is closed to you, another one opens. This unexpected route was how Daniel stepped into the world of therapy, only seeing patients over 7ft to discuss exactly the best methods with which they could fit in. He knew what it was like to have your size make you invisible to so much opportunity. As word spread across the country from the biggest mouths to the widest plains of ear lobes, the longest humans flocked to him to try and accept their existence on this earth. Daniel found that initially understanding music was different to understanding people, but as soon as you started to listen, he realised that every person is just a composition of different notes. He still heard the music, both in his waking hours and in the unconscious spell of sleep, and his ability to help those who had suffered similar losses to him eased his own dissatisfaction of never being able to take to the stage.
His success was not just via the impact that he had on the lives of others and the glowing reputation that followed him. Daniel’s work made him a very rich man, and it was the coffers and coffers of money that he was known to be the owner of, that his family dreamed would one day become theirs. (The hearts of the small giants among us cannot beat for as long as the more ‘text-book’ sizes’, and an earlier demise was tragically inevitable’).
Not that this point was due to be soon. He still had at least a decade on the great clock that ticked inside of him, and there was no illness slowly, or rapidly, eating him alive. But, he had been recently advised as he approached his 50th year on this earth that he should start to turn his thoughts towards a will. He did have children, an ex-partner of a 3-year marriage that finally ended because the practicality of their lives together - door and quilt sizes - just couldn’t be resolved. As with all domestic break downs, the simpleness of the final inciting incident was only a cover-up for a much deeper schism. But as Daniel wrote his will that afternoon following a busy morning of clients, he pondered on the content. It wasn’t that he was an unkind man. His new career had helped him to grow massively, not by his already triple-figure jean measurement, but spiritually. With every mind that opened to him, he had soared to greater heights in his ability to listen well, and his understanding of the human condition had plunged deeper depths.
But he still couldn’t understand his family. On the outside, they were beautiful creatures. Limbs proportioned expertly with the rest of their bodies and the world’s expectations of a ‘normal’ human being. They were all a tall height, but nothing such as the lofty levels that Daniel’s own forehead grazed.
Yet, for all the attractiveness of their outer beings, the part that the rest of the world saw before anything else, their insides were of a very different quality. They were ugly, greedy and un-empathetic people and Daniel could not understand the dark matrixes that made up each of his family’s insides. He had tried, in the same way that he had practised scales before this world had been sealed off from him and his huge fingers, he had ploughed time and effort into being able to see the beauty in this strange lot that was his family. The genes that made Daniel so massive did not mix into their gene pool, however, it seemed that neither did any of his other qualities of humanity, or a desire to see past what is directly in front of you.
It was with this knowledge that he decided to write his will. A large portion of his fortune would be left to his charity ‘It Doesn’t Have to End at the Basketball Hoop’, but an even larger one should go to his family. After all, as one half of a parenting team, he had a duty to both his offspring and his ex-spouse, but he knew that to leave them money wouldn’t actually help them at all, past qualifying for a new credit card. Instead, as he wrote his will, sucking thoughtfully at the end of one of his custom made biros, he decided to leave them access to a world which he hoped would help them blossom into something else. With this inspiration, words formed under his nib explaining that he had paid for a lifetime of twice-weekly music lessons, for each of them and any family members that would become their duty to look after. He leaned back in his huge chair. The warm glow of glee spreading across his face as he imagined the people that they could be if they could only learn that everyone had a light that shone out of them, even if they looked different to you.
‘My family’, he wrote in this short letter afterwards, ‘I am leaving for you an opportunity to learn that beauty isn’t limited to the realm of the ‘normal’. Music has always taught me that is entirely untrue, that there is a certain mix of notes that makes one kind of perfection. None of us are the same symphony, but if you trust that each of us has the power to be the most beautiful thing you have ever heard if you would only listen to each of the notes that make it up, it is you, who will be richer than everyone else.’