The Player

July 18, 2008
By Sam Elwood, Banks, OR

“Breath, breath,” the thunderous applause could be heard from the backstage as if I was already standing in front of them all. “Breath,” I whispered to myself again, “he’ll be here, he promised.” I couldn’t help the nerves, they were everywhere. My fingers tingled with the anticipation as I fought to keep my emotions in check. “You can do this.”

“Clara!” the crisp voice woke me from my thoughts, and at that moment I forgot everything. I closed my eyes, my heart pounding a thousand beats per second. I could feel it slowly breaking through my rib cage. “Clara!” Slowly I turned around to face Mrs. Hawn. The cold, distant, widow who had been responsible for my success. At least that’s what she told everyone.

“Yes,” my voice betrayed my feelings to her as she hobbled over on her wooden cane.

“Child you look as white as the snow outside,” she exclaimed grabbing one of my cheeks with her papery fingers and pinching it real tight. I wanted to slap her hand away, but I didn’t. “Well it’s almost your turn, are you ready m’dear?” she peered down at me over her spectacles almost as if begging me to say no.

“I think so,” I coughed, my throat felt swollen, it was a good thing I wasn’t singing tonight.

“Then if everything is okay I want you at center stage in,” she took her eyes off of my pale face to glance down at her pocket watch, “five minutes.” I let out a sigh of relief as she stiffly turned her back on me and hobbled away to go critique her next pupil.

Once she left however the nerves came back, I rung my hands so hard that I thought they would break off and then I wouldn’t be able to play. Problem solved! My heart nearly burst out of my chest right on the spot as the last applause from the student in front of me rang through the back stage. My hands began to play with my dress as I tried my hardest to keep my cool. My feet weren’t cooperating, and only to reluctantly did I make it too center stage. I took another deep breath into the velvet red curtains that hung down directly in front of me. The sudden breeze ruffled them a little, sending little bits of dust particles into the air as the audience continued to applaud.

The curtains slowly were pulled away on either side; I put a hand over my face to shield my eyes from the spot light. The dust danced in the light as I slowly walked to the grand piano that was placed only a few feet away from where I stood. Distantly I could hear someone announcing my name, but they were too far away. My eyes scanned the audience, I had to squint. The light messed with my vision and I could barely make out the person sitting only two feet from the stage. Now how would I find him?

My eyes darted from face to face as the seconds ticked by, none of them I recognized. And then I saw my mom. She sat only three rows away, I could barely make out her smile and the sadness in her own eyes, the seat on her right was empty. I felt the tears well up behind my eyes as I sat down. The wooden seat felt warm, as if it had been waiting for me.

My sigh shuddered as I fought back the tears; hesitantly my hands began to play a song. Time seemed to pace in a different way, whenever I played. Not to fast, but yet not to slow. I closed my eyes as the music filled me up, and slowly the song that I had originally decided to perform changed. Into something inexplicable, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful. My heart sunk back from my throat into my chest as realization hit me. He wasn’t here! He hadn’t even planned on coming. The music continued to flow from my mind, to my finger tips, and out into audience’s hearts. People whom I didn’t even know, who I probably would never know. People who lead completely separate lives from my own, who had heard my name being called, but it had simply traveled through one ear and out the other. I suddenly wanted them to all to hear me, my music, this was my time to shine, and shine I would. They would all remember me if not my name, then my music. I played for what felt like hours until my hands were sore, and my legs were numb. And then all at once it stopped!

The auditorium was filled with nothing but silence. I opened my eyes reluctantly, something was wrong, had I really played that bad? However slowly but surely the faceless people in front of me began to bring their hands together. Some of them even stood up. I smiled for the first time since my father’s death, feeling his presence all around me as I took my bow. I caught my mom’s eye among the throng of people who all stood up she was crying, I couldn’t help it, I cried too.

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This article has 2 comments.

Critique said...
on Aug. 21 2008 at 2:47 pm
In this case it would be "breathe", not "breath" and you switched your "to"s and "too"s. It needs some proofreading, but otherwise it was good.

Miss.Bliss1 said...
on Aug. 16 2008 at 1:39 am
Sad ending but a beautiful story.

Nice job.

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