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<<<  <<  -- 8 --  K C Devereaux    NOTA BENE  --  >>  >>>


'Now remember there's no disgrace if you forget your place. Just take a deep breath and start over.'
'Mr A?'
'Yes, Katie.'
'I learned the whole piece.'
'Well let's hope so.'
'No, I mean I learned the middle part you said not to.'
'Are you going to play it?'
'Yes, I said.'
His face took on a sagging look but not the same wounded exasperation he showed about Invention in F.
'You paid attention to fingering?'
'Uh huh.'
'Well, all right then. You go right ahead.'

The hours passed in a haze of brown: the linoleum and dingy walls of the corridor. Some of the students stood by the auditorium door (there was no backstage), listening to the younger kids, hanging on every note hoping for a mistake, our only entertainment. That only made me more nervous however so I stayed as far away from the gym entrance as possible, near a deserted corner with the drinking fountain and my old 4th grade class room -- the room from which I'd first been released to run to the end of the corridor for piano lessons.

Dad came looking for me during intermission but I slipped into the drinking fountain alcove. He walked outside and lit a cigarette. My mother stayed in the auditorium, reading a paperback. She only smoked during cocktails.

Finally Camilla and I were alone in the hallway, and then I heard the final notes of the 'Swan', third to last piece, and the spatter of clapping. Without looking at Camilla (she moved in a sleeker crowd than I did), I walked into the gym with my head down and up the side steps leading to the stage. I sat down on the cool shiny black piano bench. The gleaming keyboard was mirrored by the glossy panel stenciled 'Baldwin.' The lights above glittered unevenly off the ebony surface, one or two were burnt out, the rest moth-spattered. I composed myself and lifted my hands but Mr A was scampering up the stairs. 'Wait, wait, wait,' he said. 'Not so fast, young lady.' He turned to face the audience.

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Copyright © 9 April 2008 K C Devereaux, Michigan USA


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