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My hand and eye trace yet another picture, giving life to the flat paper as I scribble away. With a last dash and a final smudge, I feel my work is complete. I comb back the hair from my head and sigh at the drawing before me, which had felt so good during its creation, now looked pitiful and useless. I groan, and shove the picture back into my decaying sketchbook full of other useless drawings, and leave the art room as the bell sounds for class change.
I continue down the hall, smiling at some people, indifferent to others...clutching my books and hoping with all my might that today would be different, that, maybe today...I would fit in. Maybe I wouldn't be the quiet person struggling to remember how to make my hand and eye flow as one to create something upon a two-d object, maybe I would be the one that made everybody laugh, the person that all the loud raucous people around would look up to and ask for help, or comfort. It wasn't likely, but the hope was too delicious to spit out.
With another swift dodge, I managed to only half knock into a person wearing football pads who is charging right towards me down the hall. But I wasn't so lucky with the next person, or the next...slamming into people is basically a sport for me. A dangerous one though. And with no padding to protect you, and no warning...I get lots of practice.
With multiple bruises from my year-round sport, I finally enter the Library, where I spot my rowdy group of friends tackling each other, and yelling, and singing, and talking loudly...I don't think I'll ever fit in to this group. But my determination and purpose get the better of me...I sit down amongst them, and clutch my books again, as if their inky pages will whisper comfort and acceptance to my deafened ears. I start to say something, but my hoarse and underused voice is drowned into their tidal wave of speech and motion. I try once more, and miraculously, someone hears me.
"What was that, hon?" The girl asks, everyone seems to go quiet.
"Oh...I was," I cleared my throat, hoping something clever would pop into my head, and they would all think I was cool, and worthy of their attention. Nothing popped into my head. "I was...uh...clearing my throat, don't pay any attention to me." I opened a book and started to peer at the words, hoping they would all look away, praying that my face wasn't bright red, and that nobody would notice the tears about to cascade down my face.
I hurriedly swiped at my eyes, then stood and began a swift trot, along with tons of jostles along the way from passers-by, to the spare practice room, where I knew I would be alone. Closing the door quietly behind me, I sit down on the creaky piano bench, and start to tap at the keys, hoping some sort of inspiration would come to mind.
Nothing comes for a while, then, by some miracle, I get a beat. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, went that one note. My left hand twitched, wanting to be of service too. Wanting to play. I bring it up to the keys, resting it lightly on a few of them, and pressing, hoping that some good sound will come and a song will be born. Success! The sound mixes well, they even harmonize. Bing, bing..tap, tap, tap, tap…bing, ting, bing, bing..tap, tap, tap, tap…was this music? Did I actually compose something? I play it over, hoping I’ll remember. I do! The song starts to rap me up into a hug, I add a few words even. “We could pretend,” Tap, tap, tap, tap, “That we are alone, that the world isn’t here,” Tap, tap, tap, tap…”But that would be a lie,” I smile hugely. I’ve created a song! I’m not useless!
“Don’t stop now,” A voice behind me says.
I turn around, my face bright red, my stomach plummeting. Who was there? A boy was standing there, smiling.
“Sorry, were you going to use this room?” I say, nearly choking.
“Nah, I was walking down the hall and I heard a beautiful song playing, so I opened the door and found you here. Can I listen?”
“Uhh…I’m just making it up, I can’t really play…” He thought it was beautiful?
“That’s amazing! You’re playing right from your head?” He asked, with wonder, looking at the empty music stand next to me. “You should play that for the Prom assembly!”
“No way!” I blush. “I mean…I couldn’t do that. I would die! I can’t even talk to people, let alone sing and play in front of them.”
“You’re talking to me, and you sang and played beautifully.” He sat down on one of the empty chairs in the room.
I looked down at my lap, smiling.
“What’s your name?” He asked me. “I know I’ve seen you around somewhere.”
“Sophie,” I reply, looking up.
“Hello Sophie, I’m Evan.” He held his hand out to me.
“So would you like to play that song again? I only heard the last bit.”
I almost lost my breath. Would I play for him? Ahhh! I’m going to die! I can’t sing, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to play the same song! “I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember…”
“I’ll help,” He came over and sat on the bench with me.
“Alright,” My face was going red again. What if someone looked in the window?
“I think it had a few notes like this,” He played the tap, tap, tap, tap.
“Yes, it did.”
“And then a few of these,” He played the bings. “What happened next? I don’t remember.” He continues
I pushed the tap notes, than added the bings and tings. “Something like that,” I said, finishing.
“When does the singing come in?” He asked.
“Here,” I tapped on the keys four times, than started to hum the lyrics.
“Ah, come on, you have to sing it.” He began to play the taps. After the fourth, I sang.
“We could pretend, that we are alone,” He embellished it with the bings and tings. “That the world isn’t here, but that would be a lie,” He kept playing, so on a spur of the moment, I added a new verse. “We could pretend, that the day is ours,” Tap, tap, tap, tap, bing, ting, bing, bing… “With no dead ends, we could pretend.”
He added something new to the sound, switching the bings and tings around. “Now make up the chorus.”
“It’s like a game of hide and seek,” I began, trying to catch the flow of his tune. “Just for you and me, pretending is best for us, you’ll see,”
“You’ll see,” He agreed, with harmony.
He began playing my part again. But this time, he sang, his voice deep yet light. “We could believe, that there we no wars, that there was only peace,” Tap, tap, tap, tap… “But that would be a lie…”
He switched to the chorus this time and we sang in harmony. I didn’t feel nervous. I wasn’t afraid. I was having a good time performing in front of someone!
I sang the last verse. “We could believe, that we are in love,” I took a breath. “That we could be,” Tap, tap, tap, tap… “Together you and I! We could just pretend…” He closed with a few bouncing notes.
I smiled at him, he smiled at me. “You sing beautifully, Sophie. Thank you for letting me play with you. Can I come in tomorrow to?”
“Yes, I’d like that.”
He stood up and left, smiling at me on the way out.
I wasn’t a useless person. I could make it through this. I had a friend named Evan. I picked up my books and didn’t clutch them; I put them in my backpack and walked confidently down the hall.
My useless days were over. A gentle expression of appreciation was all that it took.