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The Last Lesson This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Somehow, I just couldn't believe Katheryn was leaving. I had been playing violin for eight years, and she had been my teacher the whole time, except when she was pregnant. That hadn't been fun. Yuri, an Israeli teacher with a thick accent, had taken over for her during that time, and I was miserable until she came back. It wasn't that I didn't like Yuri, though he was annoying when I played out of tune ("Itz naht a B!"), I was just more used to Kathryn. She had watched me grow up from an obnoxious five-year-old with a squeaky little violin to a proud fourteen-year-old leading the middle school orchestra. How could my life continue without my influential, wonderful teacher who had taught me so much more than just scales?

She was moving to Washington state, and with an entire country between us, I knew we would never see each other again. It was inevitable, of course, that we would both move on, but it was kind of unexpected. It hadn't really sunk in yet, even when my father and I climbed the stairs of the big yellow music school for the last time that sunny Saturday morning.

Her tiny room on the top floor was cheerful and cramped as always, though missing some of the clutter and pictures her students had drawn for her.

"I'm trying to pack up, little by little," she explained, somewhat apologetically. "Come in, come in! How are you?" This last lesson didn't stop her from picking apart every little detail of each piece I attempted to play. Many lessons of my former years had ended in my frustrated tears when I couldn't please her. It was worth it, of course, though only in recent years had I learned to control my aggravation.

"Let's do something fun today, like a duet," Kathryn suggested, "since it's our last day. How about Bach's Concerto for Two Violins?"

I don't remember much about the lesson, except that there was more reminiscing and talk of my future teacher than there was actual playing. Playing at all seemed pointless, anyway.

As the lesson drew to a close, we exchanged tearless hugs, well wishes and good-byes. A voice in the back of my head congratulated myself for such perfect self-control, but I just felt empty. As Dad and I walked away from the little room where I had learned so much, something welled up inside. Dad read my thoughts and put his arm around my shoulders.

"A chapter of your life just closed," he said, trying to sound wise and helpful. "It's time to move on ..."

The big black door of the school closed behind us, leaving me with nothing but the memories. I burst into tears. Thankfully, Dad shut up. As we walked away from the school and the teacher who had given me so much, I knew I was leaving a part of my heart behind, ever hidden in the tiny cramped room that would always remain in my memory. fl




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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