Her fingertips vibrated like a bee while mine flopped. Her arm remained taut and straight, mine like a stiff blade of grass. The heavy ivory strings pull at my fingers and sent angry bullets of pain through the rough skin.
I tuck my fingers into the palm of my hand and squeeze delicately. My eyes shift over to her glossy black hair that dangles against her back. I consciously reach up to tug my hair and place it behind my ear. It hovers for a second before falling in front of my face, like a silky curtain.
I can feel anger glittering in my eyes as I stare down at my polished instrument. I can hear the ring of the melody echoing off into the distance and I rub my thumb over a slight groove in the black-as-night fingerboard. My eyes trace over the gleaming body crafted from cherry tree wood...
“Mrs. Carmencita! Please try to pay attention, would you?” A sharp rap echoed against the podium as the sharp voice cut through my thoughts. I felt a flush creep up my cheeks and grimly noted that every pair of eyes from the whole orchestra were fixated on me, like wolves hunting for their game. I have interrupted their gorgeous creation, their crystal music, their elegant sound. I make an attempt to keep my posture, as not to embarrass myself more than I already have.
“Yeah, Mrs. Carmen. Don’t screw this up for the rest of us.” I sank lower in my seat and tried to cover myself with my hoodie as the girl who played beautifully, quietly sneered at me. They ALL played beautifully, like an angle in chorus while I stood out like a sick mouse. When I didn’t respond, the musicians’ voice whizzed toward me again, like a relenting arrow.
“You’re envious.” She paused, her eyes scanning my red face. “It shows should you know, like a green snake.” She puckered her lips and tilted her head, slightly to the side, giving me a pitiful look. My stomach clenched at itself, fully aware that she was right.
The only reason I am here is because of winning that stupid scholarship in some lottery. Don’t get me wrong, learning to play like an angle is highest on my list of things to accomplish, if I kept one anymore, which I don’t. I believe that I had it figured out by now. The way the world allows or forces, as some would say, me to learn is through putting up with people who are better. Better in every way. This thought settles heavily in my mind and the atmosphere becomes as oppressive as lead.
I feel a soft tap on my shoulder, breaking the somber trance, and blink twice before slowly tilting my head over my shoulder. I brace myself for an insult, for a glare, maybe even a fist. Instead, a girl sits behind me, the stage lights illuminating her thick, red hair that rest upon her shoulders. Her face is a universe of freckles and a stern look stirs in her eyes. She nods, as though we just shared a valuable secret and gestures with her chin, instructing me to face the podium again. I knot my eyebrows together and slowly turn back. I stare at the conductor, who is loudly lecturing the class, but I don’t pick up any of it as I wince from the bright lights.
As soon as I let out a tiny sigh, a heavy note erupts from behind me. The teacher emits the same reaction as I and cocks her head slowly to face the direction of where the sound came from. I pause, already knowing and tilt my head in question as the red-head girl fiercely flits her bow across a string and nimbly releases a pleasing note. It complements the dense air that encircles the stiff musicians’ chair.
She winks at me before regaining her posture and mumbles something to herself, before nodding. The teacher stands, stare drilling holes into the red-haired girl, who blinks innocently at her demise. The teacher clears her throat and briskly walks towards the girl.
“You do know, Mrs. Harbor, that I can’t miss you until you leave.” In an attempt to restore order, she points to the door and places her hand on her hips. The girl, whom the teacher has addressed as Mrs. Harbor, points to herself before standing and walking to the door, in a compelling manner. The large doors open, letting light that was resting in the corridor flow in for a moment, before allowing the doors to slam shut. I widened my eyes at this simple act of defiance and pondered why it was done. Had she meant for me, the quiet and un-talented girl that sat in front of her, to join her?
Before I knew what, I was doing, my hands had taken their position and strummed a squeaky note. A chitter of laughs was sprinkled from throughout the crowd. I stood up and did my best to glare at the powerful conductor, whose eyes narrowed sophisticatedly at me.
“I am NOT learning anything except that this room is filled with wealthy and corrupted people.” I grabbed my instrument and before the conductor could instruct me, I scampered to the door before my legs had the chance to give way and collapse. I used my left side of the body to prop open the door and dash out.
As soon, as I entered the hallway, I paused to catch my breath and let the worries about what was going to happen in the future thoroughly sink in. I placed my free hand on the polished wall and panting, leaned onto it. My adrenaline rush was high, and blood roared in my ears like a waterfall.
A soft voice silenced the flow as it called my name.
“Hello? Are you okay?” My head whipped up and the red-haired girl stood before me, looking as though this happened all the time. I pulled my hand from the wall and let it drop to my side as I took the time to find my voice.
“That was pretty amazing, what you did in there. I heard all of it.” The girl didn’t wait for a reply before continuing.
“My name is Julia and I guess yours's Carmen, right?” I gave a faint nod and with more prompting, nodded harder.
“Did you want me to come out here?” Julia looked at me and smiled.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that.” She looked at her feet before attempting to make eye contact with me.
“I wanted to teach you. The teacher in there,” Julia jabbed her thumb towards the door, “already acts as though these prestige students already know everything. It always makes me angry.” She shook her head quickly, and I noticed her hoop earring pattered against her cheeks. A small smile grew on my face and I gestured to my violin.
“Wanna start now?”
“Ready when you are” We both placed out violins, our fabulous instruments, onto our shoulders.
“Want one piece of advice to start off?” I nodded excessively.
“Your fingertips should burn.” And the music began.