Without Me

April 14, 2012
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This is it, I think to myself. Through those brown wooden doors is a music stand with two lines of music on it. Two lines to prove my ability to sight read. Two lines to show the judges my rich, beautiful tone. Two lines to clinch my spot in the Massachusetts Western District Band.
I lean back against the stone wall. My mind is filled with doubt. “What if they ask me to play a high A? Or a low C? What if the music has syncopated rhythms?” I slowly open my eyes, and then the amazing ninth-grade piccoloist struts through the door. “It’s your turn.”
The door slams behind me and I jump, startled. An old lady with fair skin assures me, “Don’t worry dear. That’s happened to everyone.” A little more relaxed, I shuffle over to the sleek, tall music stand in the center of the room.
“Warm up if you need to,” the calm, sweet voice tells me. I stare at my glistening flute and take a deep breath. My trembling hands somehow manage to hoist the mouthpiece directly under my quivering lip, and I play the easiest scale I know.
“Good,” she says, “Now let’s hear this.” The woman emerges from behind the scorer’s table and I can now see her long floral dress. Her huge black heels make her look even more intimidating that she already did. “Amy,” according to the miniscule name tag across her chest, gently places a half-sheet of paper on the broad stand. I let out a huge puff of air and the paper silently flutters to the ground. Amy picks it up and chuckles.
“A little nervous, there?” A small bit of tension is released from my body as I patiently wait for Amy to flaunt back to her table.
“Go ahead,” she says, and I raise the flute to my lips once again.

“Niku! Niku! The Junior District results are in today! Let’s go!”
“One second!” she shouts. “Wait for me!” There is no way I am waiting. I sprint down the long hallway and take a sharp left into the band room.
“Mr. Moors!” I holler. I spot him sitting on a stool, examining what must be our evaluation papers.
“Did I make it?”
“No,” he whispers to me in a melancholy tone, “You missed by two points.”
“Cool!” Wait a second, I could have sworn he just said I didn’t make the cut. “Wait, what?”
“You only missed by two points.” Mr. Moors, our band conductor, repeats with a slight nod. “Here’s your evaluation.” BAM! Reality hits me like a punch in the gut.
“Really?” I whisper, on the verge of tears. Mr. Moors gives me another nod.
“Okay.” I slouch my shoulders and shuffle down the crowded hallway to the cafeteria.
I look at my pink evaluation card. PERFECT SCORE ON SOLO PIECE! There is something to be said for that. But there is something TERRIBLE to be said FOR NOT MAKING THE FREAKING AUDITION! I am mad. No, I am way past mad. I could kill someone. Stop it. I try to calm myself down. Once I recompose myself, I walk over to Matthew, the concert master trumpet player for the Western District Orchestra.
“Hey! I heard you got first trumpet in the orchestra! Congratulations!”
“Thanks,” he replies humbly, “I heard you only missed by two points. That kinda sucks.” I have to put my hands on my red, humiliated face to keep from crying.
“Yeah. I totally screwed up on the sight reading. I hadn’t remembered to practice that. I’m so stupid!” I grab my head in exasperation.
“That really stinks,” Matthew replies with sympathy. “But, hey, isn’t the flute like the hardest instrument to get in for? You should be proud you came so close.”
“Aw, thanks!” I blush. I had forgotten what it had felt like to be complemented, or even feel good about myself.
“Well, see you later!”
“Bye!” A tiny smile spreads across my flushed face as I walk over to the table where my friends are sitting. I begin to peel a perfectly ripe orange because i feel too terrible to do anything else. Then I see my friends comparing evaluation cards with beaming faces, and it takes all my strength not just shove my face right into the table and start bawling. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. All of my friends will be spending hours of time perfecting very difficult songs. They will practice so hard until they get that incredibly satisfying feeling of confidence in themselves. And when concert day comes, they will be the ones sitting under the gleaming lights in the auditorium. Without me.

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