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A Boy in Winter
We’re playing Mozart in Orchestra. I’ve been looking forward to playing another Mozart piece since the end of Sophomore year, last May. I went to a one-month music camp this past summer in Prague, and surprisingly, we didn’t play any Mozart—just Beethoven, who I’m not so fond of.
Dr. Hines, the Orchestra director is my favorite person in the whole world, but I think I’m the only one that thinks that. He’s loud, mean, and pushes you musically when you can’t be pushed anymore. People hate him, but I think those are all necessary properties of a good high school Orchestra director.
He’s also my uncle, but nobody knows that—not even my best friend Kaitlyn. He treats me the same as everybody else. I sit first chair second violin and I work hard so it stays that way. I plan on auditioning for first violin because I feel up to a challenge. Kaitlyn, who’s a first violin, is excited because there’s a chance that we could be stand partners.
Today, just another Tuesday, I’m looking forward to Orchestra because Dr. Hines said that we’d specifically be working on Mozart. Our Winter concert is only a week away and Dr. Hines gave us this piece a week ago, so I have had to practice every night for two hours just to get the notes right. I’ve finally gotten most of the piece perfect.
Halfway through the first movement, someone walks into the room. We continue playing as were are instructed to whenever someone comes in, but Dr. Hines looks at the person and cuts us off, just as I’m about to play my solo.
I immediately hate whoever caused us to stop playing, unlike everyone else in the class who are probably relieved to get a break. We’ve been working nonstop. I look up, furious. It it’s another teacher asking another stupid question about how the online grading system works, I swear I’m going to shoot somebody.
Except it’s not a teacher. It’s a boy. He’s tall and has shaggy brown hair that covers up most of his eyes. He’s wearing a simple green sweater and he is pushing his hair out of his eyes and looking around the room. His eyes fall on me and I glare at him.
“Evan Hollan!” Dr. Hines smiles. I hardly ever see him smile. I fact, I can’t remember the last time he did. Who is this Evan Hollan anyway?
I watch as Dr. Hines shakes his hand happily and immediately asks every cello to move back a chair, making Evan first cello. I can see the look of anguish on every cello player’s face as they’re forced to move back. They’ve worked so hard to get there and this Evan kid just sits down and doesn’t even have to audition like the rest of us.
Does Uncle Scott—Dr. Hines know this Evan guy personally? He’s never mentioned him at our Sunday night dinners.
“Evan, grab a cello. They’re in the back.”
We all—well, all the cellos and me—watch Evan as he glides to the back room and comes back with a cello. He sits down and begins tuning the instrument, keeping his head down as if nobody was there. I watch him closely.
I don’t like this guy. I think to myself. Please, there’s no way he can sightread the Mozart anyway…
“From the top!” Dr. Hines announces when Evan’s done tuning. He begins to wave his hands around and we start playing. We play along for a while and I almost forget Evan is here. I look up and almost drop my violin when I see that he’s playing it perfectly, not looking confused at all. He keeps his eyes on the music. When the cello’s get a rest, he look up and glances at me. I stare back at him with my mouth in a straight line and almost miss my solo. Luckily I don’t, and I play it perfectly. I don’t look at Evan again.
“That Evan guy is kind of cute, don’t you think?” Kaitlyn says to me after school. We’re sitting in the park across the street from my house doing homework. Even though it’s winter, we can’t not come to the park. It’s been a tradition for over five years.
I shrug. “I don’t know. And who does he think he is anyway to waltz right into second period and make all the cellos move. Seems like a jerk to me.”
“Your uncle’s the one that seated him there!” Kaitlyn waves her hands around.
I sit up straight. “My what?”
“Please, Iris. I’ve known that Dr. Hines is your uncle for a while now. You forget that my mom is the Vice Principal. She knows tons of secrets.”
I let out a breath. If only one person knows, that’s okay. I don’t know what I’d do if someone else found out too. “Don’t tell anyone, okay? It’ll be weird in class.”
“Aye, aye, Captain!” Kaitlyn smiles.
We do our homework quietly for the rest of the afternoon until I look at my watch to see what time it is and see someone walking down the street. We live in a small neighborhood where everybody knows everybody. I immediately get up and make my way to the tall figure, who I’m pretty sure is Ryan, the boy across the street, to say hello.
Except it’s not Ryan.
It’s Evan. Evan Hollan.
I immediately stop in my tracks, hoping since he hasn’t looked up yet that he won’t notice me and keep walking. Except he does notice me, and a look of recognition appears on his face.
I can feel my face turning red. I wave my fingers at him awkwardly—as awkward as a moment like this can be and start to back away.
“You’re in my orchestra class, right?” He says.
His voice is beautiful. Low, but not too low, with a friendly tone. I’m so stunned, I almost forget to reply.
“Uh—yeah—um, I am.”
He looks at me for a moment, thinking of what to say. “Do you live around here?”
“Righ there,” I point to the white house across the street and immediately regret it. Why would I tell some complete stranger where I live? I’m crazy.
“That’s a nice house. I like the tree in the front yard. Is that a Japanese Maple?”
“Um, yeah, well I have to go back to...um…studying, so…”
“I guess I’ll see you around…” He pauses, not knowing my name.
“See you, Iris.”
We start to walk away, but he says something. “You did good on your solo, by the way!” He calls out.
I roll my eyes. “Thanks.” Why is he being so nice to me? I say thanks and head back to Kaitlyn, who’s talking on the phone with her boyfriend, Stephen. I motion to her to hang up because this is our special time of the day. She rolls her eyes and says goodbye.
“You totally like him, Iris.”
It’s been a week since Evan came into our orchestra class and I almost feel guilty for hating him. He’s been nothing but polite to me and he really does deserve to be first chair cello—he’s a virtuoso. But there’s something about him that I just don’t like. I just don’t know what.
On Tuesday, I go to one of the many small rehearsal rooms at our school. I go to an art school, so they focus a lot on music. People can go in there and practice instruments, singing, or just use it as a quiet place to do homework, though teachers get mad if they see you so you have to sneak around.
I make my way to my room. Well, it’s not technically my room, but everybody knows that Tuesdays after school, I practice in Rehearsal Room 8 from 3:30 to five o’clock. Everybody knows that, and they should, because I get really mad when someone is in my room.
And somebody is. And who else should it be but Evan Hollan. I swear, he must carefully plan out things he’s going to do to make me angry. I don’t waste time, I march right into the rehearsal room and sit down.
Evan doesn’t see or hear me until he’s done playing, as he was facing away from the door. He jumps a little when he looks up and sees me. He looks confused before asking, “How did you get in here without me knowing?”
I glare at him. “I used the door. Which on it, is a sign that reads, Iris Highland has this room specifically reserved on Tuesdays from 3:30 to four.”
He actually looks a little scared from the tone of my voice and I regret yelling at him. “Sorry, I didn’t see it. I’ll be on my way. Just give me a few minutes.”
“Never mind,” I reach out and touch his arm, stopping him from packing up. Electricity runs through me. “You can practice here. I think I saw another open room down the hall. Sorry for snapping at you.”
He smiles and puts his bow on the stand, marking something in his music with a chewed- up pencil. “It’s okay. I’m used to it. This is the third school I’ve moved to in the past year and people always hate me because I always get first stand cello.”
“I’m sorry, Evan. I don’t hate you…anymore.”
He laughs. “Thanks, Iris.”
“How do you know my uncle?”
“Your uncle?” He knits his eyebrows together.
I run my hands through my hair. Great, another person knows. “My uncle, Dr. Hines?”
He laughs, “He’s your uncle! So that’s who he was talking about…”
“Nothing,” he says quickly. “Anyway, he’s a family friend. He and my father have known each other since Elementary school.”
“Oh…that explains it.”
“Why he loves you.”
He blushes and picks his bow up off the stand. “Well, I’ve got to get playing. I don’t know that Mozart piece that well.”
I stare at him and shake my head. “You’re crazy, Evan.”
He smiles. “I try.”
Since that day in Rehearsal Room 8, Evan and I have become best friends. He comes over to my house once a week and we work on orchestra music. We also play music from a cello-violin book I have and if I do say so myself, we sound pretty good.
It’s been three months since Evan came to Hawn Art School, and I can’t believe that I actually proceeded to make friends with someone I hated at first. He means everything to me now—as a friend of course.
Evan, along with Kaitlyn now come to family dinners. Mr. and Mrs. Hollan plus Evan’s little sister Kristina come too. Sunday is now the night I look forward to most because I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends so much. I love every one of them.
I realized a few weeks ago that I’m totally in love with Evan Hollan. He’s everything I ever wanted in a boy. He’s funny, sweet, and above all, shares the same passion for music as I do. I didn’t think I’d ever find someone with all those qualities—especially not in high school.
It’s February 17, exactly three months since I first met Evan. I’ve invited him over to hang out, but I’m going to tell him the way I feel.
The doorbell rings and I rush downstairs to open it. Evan is standing there with some flowers in his hand.
He smiles. “For you. I know I missed Valentines Day because of that skiing trip.”
I take the flowers—white daisies (he knows I hate roses)—in my hand. I smile and look up at him. I lead him upstairs and I lie on my bed while he sits at the end. I open my mouth to speak, when he says something.
“Iris, I have to tell you something.”
My heart leaps. He’s going to tell me he loves me too! This is perfect. Everything is perfect.
“I’ve known you for a while now and I think it’s time to tell you…”
This is it.
I love you too, Evan.
I’m in love with you, too. I’ll be with you forever.
“I’m moving next week.”
My heart drops, literally. I feel it crashing into my stomach. “W-what?” I stammer. “Evan, are you serious?” I fight back the tears.
“I’m sorry, Iris. I’ve been trying to tell you for a few weeks and I just couldn’t bear to do it! I love you so much and I couldn’t tell you.”
“You what?” I’m speechless.
He turns red. “Iris, I was in love with you from the very first day I saw you. I just didn’t want to tell you because…”
I kiss him, stopping him from continuing. He kisses me back and I hug him when we stop. I stay in his arms for the rest of the night, falling asleep on his shoulder, only to be woken up when he tells me he has to leave, that he’ll be back tomorrow.
I cried for a long time tonight, going over all that had happened in my head. I cried more when I realized that he’d be leaving in just a week.
My first true love was just going to leave.
Just. Like. That.
Months after Evan and I said goodbye for the last time, I’m sitting in my room reading Great Expectations for the first time and rereading the original ending when Pip doesn’t get Estella. Except Dickens rewrote the ending so that they end up together.
If only my life was a piece of great English literature.
“Honey, you have a letter,” My mom comes in and puts an envelope on my desk. I look at and immediately recognize the writing and tear it open. Tears fill my eyes as I read:
Who knew that three months would last a week?
Who knew the girl I loved could make me weak in the knees?
Who knew that I would fall in love at first sight?
Who knew that everything would turn out not right?
I miss the girl I would spend days and nights with all over again.
I miss the girl that I still call my best friend.
I miss the girl who kissed me first.
I miss this girl every night, and my heart hurts.
I see us sitting in your room,
Me pretending you’re my wife and I’m your groom
I see us laughing at the stupidest things
I see a girl who I would’ve given a ring.
Back down to Earth is where I belong
My head is in the clouds pretending I’m still in Hawn.
Back to reality is where I must be
Because the girl I still love has probably forgotten about me.
I don’t want to tell you where I am
I could, but I really just cant.
Nothing would work being this far away
But I have more to say.
I wish I could be the man that you wed.
I wish I could die by you instead.
Your memory will lie in my heart I will remember
I hope that I wasn’t just a boy in Winter.