The shores responded in song to the waves.
She bit her lip. “What?” her father asked.
“It’s off beat.”
He squinted. Her father needed glasses, but he refused to admit it. “Since when?”
She shrugged and looked out at the waves.
“I thought the waves caused the song, not the other way around.”
Her mouth worked around nothing. She had no words. It was true. The beat of the waves caused the song. So if it was off… where was the music coming from?
One by one, the people began to add to the sound.
At first she only heard the silence of the masses. The breathing, the whispers, noises which couldn’t be obscured. They were all in the distance.
Then came the sharp sound of two hands coming together. And another. And more. The volume grew until the entire auditorium vibrated with the applause. From the balcony to the pit, the proof of a job well done.
She stood up from the bench, feeling the strings at her fingers replaced by the smooth wood of the frame. The head of the column keeping the triangular instrument upright. She rested it on its stand.
She took a bow.
She felt the current of emotion stir, every time she lifted the horn to her mouth and blew. It was a good current. Quickly muddied when she heard the words.
“Oh, how gifted she is!”
Hours, every day. The hard work. Given up opportunities. All for the French Horn.
When she began to play, no one could have picked her out from any of the other students. It took months of her own rigorous training regiment, the schedule she had chosen when the music took her, before her abilities began to rise above those around her.
She had spent so much time on this.
Gifted? Gifted were the people who were immediately good. Good for them. For every gifted individual, for every genius, the hard workers fell a little harder. She fell a little faster. She had given up so much for this. She would do it again.
However, she didn’t have the words for this. She did, however, have the music. She played even better, if just to spite them.
The spite didn’t carry through the sound. She loved the music too much.
His lungs were still filled with air, but his mind blanked.
The piano stopped. “What happened?”
He cleared his throat. “I… nothing.” He had forgotten the words. The words he had memorized backwards and forward. The words he had to present to the entire auditorium tomorrow. The words he couldn’t possibly have forgotten now.
“Then let’s start from the refrain.”
Not from the chest, but from the stomach. He reminded himself of this simple concept. The words had to be there. It was nerves. “All right.”
From amateur to professional, stage fright always found a way back to him.
The music stopped. He looked at her and waited.
Slowly, she lowered the flute from her lips. “What was I playing?”
He had known it was coming, but it hurt to hear her say that nonetheless. “Poulenc’s Sonata.”
She began again, from the top. He waited, hoping she would be able to finish.