Frederic W. Tilk

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Her mind races, but she prepares to take her first step out from behind the deep, blood-red curtains that hang in front of her, protecting her from the hot, glimmering lights that are all going focus on her beauty in the seconds to come. She impatiently waits for the cue to push her out of her comfort zone, which is hidden away from all the staring eyes. Beginning to drift off into her thoughts of facing her fears, she is awakened by a finger pointing to her firmly, letting her know that it's time. A rush of energy whips through her whole body and she feels as if her spine was removed, making it difficult to not fall down. But she can't spend all of this time holding her breath, she's got to get out there.

The only noise that filled the auditorium from the moments she bursted out of the darkness of backstage to when she played the first chord was the clicking of her heels. Not even the usual cough, sneeze, or baby cry broke the silence. The woman sat in a long, velvet chair and placed her fingers on the keys. Everyone in the audience heard her quietly inhale and then C#. That's where it all began.

The music roamed around the room as if it were dancing in and out of the audience's ears, captivating all of them as they watched the tall woman drenched in a black dress continually strike the black and white keys of the freshly polished grand piano. Though she appeared to be concentrating on the piece, she was lost in another world. Another world far away from the fear, excitement, anxiety, and the other feelings that surrounded her. She ignored each and every one of them as she pranced in her own universe that consisted of everything she's loved through out her entire life.

The flashback begins as the music takes over the hearts of the crowd. Waves crash upon the shore as a little girl runs away from the sea, reaching to embrace her with it's salty waters. The girl in braids sprints towards an older man placed in a wheel chair, who's chuckling and drinking an apple juice box. The man is her grandfather, and they've always had the best relationship you could ever imagine between two individuals nearly 50 years apart. This event takes place many times during the years she remains a child, but then she begins to grow and blossom, just as a beautiful flower would in its cycle of life.

The music becomes more intense. The little girl with braids isn't a little girl anymore. She lives for excitement and craves the night life. The braids have turned into short, dyed-hair that seems to drastically change often in color and style. This newly transformed person has gotten into trouble too many times to count and the connection between her and her family has separated more and more each time she blew out her candles. She's turned into someone people never expected would come from a great student, talented girl, and caring human being. The movie nights with her family, juice box dates with her neighbor right down the street, and countless nights reading books have turned into club nights with her boyfriend, hangovers with her best friends, and infinite family events she has skipped to do the two previous things mentioned. The people that have known her since she was born wonder if she can see how much she has changed too.

The volume of the piano music rises. She screams and shouts at her parents non-stop anytime she doesn't get her way. If they don't crack and give her what she wants, she locks herself away in her room for hours and hours-- The family forgets she's home, though it doesn't matter anyways, since she'll sneak out of the bathroom window at some point in the night. Her sister, three years younger than her, stands and watches as the once innocent girl evolves into a rebellious and disobedient teenager. But this disobedient teen will learn some day.

The music darkens, the tonality is now set to minor. The phone rings throughout the glass house the family of four resides in and suddenly a mother's cry pierces every room in the house-- The whole family rushes to the scene. On the other end of the line was the grandmother of the family, saying the grandfather had suffered from a fatal stroke, which will cause the family’s worst nightmare to become a tragic reality. Except, of course, one member, because the girl, who now has dyed her hair black in the past week, stands in front of her mother with no expression written on her face. She turns around and walks to her lonely room, which is lined with various candles and stickered with a never-ending amount of posters. She collapses on her bed, not knowing what to think, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, she drags herself to the last drawer of her old, beaten-up dresser and opens it slowly. There lies a worn book with scribbled letters reading, "MY BEST FRIEND." She cautiously opens the scrapbook and views pages of her younger self, and a healthier version of her grandfather, holding hands, wearing birthday hats, watching sunsets, and so much more. The black strands of her hair fall in front of her face as she tries to cover the tears no one will ever see.

There's a sudden pause in the music, and everyone knows not to clap, because the piece isn't completed quite yet. The music starts again, but this time, much softer. The car slides down an icy driveway and keeps slipping through the snow all the way to the hospital. The four walk in together, clasping hands with one another, and go to the room in which their grandfather is on life support. The rest of the time in the waiting room is a blur to the black-haired girl, except for when her mother and father walked into view, both with their arms wrapped around each other. They had made the decision to take their grandfather off life support and let his spirit make his way up to walk with Jesus. The girl turned in the opposite direction and covered her face. It's unreal.

The music remains soft but even as the volume increases, still remaining in minor. The days prior to the funeral were the toughest days the girl had to experience. She dyed her hair a silky light brown, as it had been the original color and it reminded her of the times her grandfather would brush it out of her face. But the days slowly lurked by, and the extended family gathered and stood in a graveyard as they watched several pallbearers lower their grandfather's casket and cover it with pounds and pounds of dirt. She can't believe the moment has come. Tears well up in her eyes and fall onto her cheeks, and then she wipes them away quickly. Her grandfather taught her to be strong. She glances up and looks at the tombstone placed into the ground. "FREDERIC W. TILK." and she turns her head to stop reading what she has been denying.

The music stops for a brief moment yet again, but unlike the previous time, it turns to major, but is a soft happy tune. Years after the death of her beloved grandfather, the gorgeous brown-haired woman has graduated high school, became a wonderful musician at her college, and has learned to cherish everything she has in life. She comes home every opportunity she gets to see her sister and parents, and spends as much time as she can with them. She stopped drinking and partying, she got over her boyfriend after he left her, and she's moved on to a brighter future. She knows she can't forget the past, but she’s ready to move on to better times. That's what her grandfather would want for her, and that's what she's going to give him.

The piece has finished and the audience is still for half a second, then a roar of applause takes place for what seems like forever.

The woman stands up and takes a few steps closer. Her eyes are glossy and her hands are shaking. Everyone silences again and she stares out into the crowd and opens her mouth. "That original piece is called 'Frederic W. Tilk'. Thank you very much."





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