For Only You

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Two things became immediately obvious as soon as I walked into the room. One, this was far worse than I had imagined. Two, the location of the garbage can in case I suddenly developed the urgent need to throw up.

I hesitated before stepping quickly across the floor. My footsteps were amplified in the hushed silence. Like lone staccato notes played across a piano. I refused to look at my audience. If I saw them all staring back at me, the garbage can for sure would be put to use.

As I reached the shiny wooden upright piano that occupied the space dubbed as “stage”, my thoughts raced back to my first piano recital many years ago.

It had been my second year taking piano lessons and I was in Grade 2 at school. Having no previous experience in front of crowds, I was soon to make a discovery. I had walked up to the piano, positioned my book containing the simple little song I had diligently learned to peck with my right hand, and prepared to perform. It was in that moment I suddenly noticed all the people intently watching me. A moment later I had ripped my book from its stand and left the room quicker than you can say “prestissimo”. (That’s a piano term meaning “as fast as possible”.)

My thoughts returned to the present as I settled myself on the flat wooden piano bench that was the same honey brown as the piano. I use the term “settled” very lightly. I was far from it. My insides jumped and turned, trying to find their way out. I swallowed.

I wiped off my sweating hands on the black slacks that replaced my usual jeans. Then my fingers automatically found their way to the starting notes and rested lightly on the glossy white and black keys.

The piano was unfamiliar. It was very much unlike the black baby grand piano I practiced on at home. How would the piano sound? Would the keys be stickier and harder to press? Would I be able to play with as much dynamics as I had been practicing with? Would it sound good at all?

I took a deep breath and tried to empty my mind of the importance of this performance. If I could impress the judges then I would get the music scholarship for my future schooling. This could be my first step to becoming discovered and playing music for the rest of my life while earning money. It was only my dream.

There was a long pause. Too long. I should have started playing, but suddenly my mind was blank. I couldn’t even seem to recall which note was C and which was B, let alone the whole piece I had memorized only a few weeks before.

I finally looked out at the crowd and stern judges. We were in a large room, the lights turned on only above the piano. There were a few dozen people with their eyes all strained towards me, watching my every move. Waiting for me to dazzle them. Or to fail.

A wave of nausea washed over me, my eyesight began to blur. Just as my eyes began falling away from the darkened audience to find the garbage can, I noticed someone that triggered my memory. I could now remember each note of my song. The tempo. The dynamics. The words I would sing along. Most importantly, I remembered the reason why I had practiced constantly, every day for the past three months. Why I had even decided to take this step towards my dream. It wasn’t to impress the judges or the group of strangers. It was to impress the person sitting in the front row: You.

I focused on my fingers, my worries melting out through my feet to form a puddle around the piano pedal. Before I could even think, the first notes sounded. My hands, from all my hard work, knew exactly where to go. Soon my voice, that everyone always praised so highly, joined the sweet sounds the piano produced. That I produced.

As cheers came out and the judges tried to hide their smiles, I hardly even noticed.

Because that piano and I: We were performing for only you.

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pandagirl312 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm
I liked the beginning; it was really dramatic and kept me reading. The rest was a tad predictible...What if she totally blanked out and started inprovising? What if she did throw up? This is a nice start, but switching up the story would make it better. :)
half.note replied...
Sept. 16, 2012 at 9:57 am
  Thank you, pandagirl312.   I guess it could have been more dramatic at the end, but the message of the story is that there are people who you do everything for. They are the ones that encourage you, and who you strive to please. The end may have been a little cheesy, but it wasn’t without purpose. :D Anyway, thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. <3
LostInMyNightmare said...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm
I love this! I've written quite a few music themed peices. Would you mind checking a few of them out?
Acastillo said...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm
I really liked this I play piano too and I can also get nervous when I play in front of other people so I can really relate to this.
half.note replied...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 5:38 pm
I really appreciate your comments, so thanks. I used to get stage fright, but not anymore. I've gotten enough practice now preforming both on piano and singing that I don't mind getting up in front of crowds. Hope it gets better for you. Thanks again.
MidnightNow1127 said...
Dec. 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Beatifully put. I am a piano player myself - six years now. Hmmm.... After seeing all of these piano stories, I might just have to write one myself! If you'd like to see other stuff I've written, check out my page. Thanks!
half.note replied...
Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Thanks for commenting. And, yeah, I'm a piano player myself actually, though you could probably tell. I've been playing those beatiful instruments for about nine years. If I have time, I'll read some of your stories, because I enjoy reading almost as much as writing.
MidnightNow1127 replied...
Dec. 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm
Same here :) Much appreciated.
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