“One cannot finish what one does not begin.” Those words rang in my head as hid behind the side curtain and looked out over the crowd. I listened as my classmate played her recital piece with delicate grace. Nervousness crept up my spine with its tingling fingers, and wrapped itself around my throat. I began to cough as I darted back stage so that nobody would hear me.
Mrs. Livingston stood in front of me, peering at me through narrow eyes, and even more narrow glasses. Her amazement coated her words with disgust, “Clarissa Danielle Morgan.”
Her stern voice weighed down on me until I could barely stand. “I told you that I get stage fright.” I tried to defend my frazzled state.
“Nonsense! It is all in your head. You must get yourself together.”
My breathing transformed into shallow wheezing. I could feel my blood draining from my face. My heart pounded in over time while heat crept over my body leaving its stick salt liquid seeping from my pores.
“Clarissa, I don’t know why I even bother with you.” She turned in disgusted and stormed out onto the stage to announce the next student who would be performing.
I watched her with distraught agony pumping through my veins.
Mom’s voice immediately started calming my voice.
“You don’t have to do this.”
I closed my eyes to hold back sobs. “I want to.”
“Well, then, you have a choice to make. You can let this fear get hold of you and take you over, or you can march out there and do one thing to show that fear who is boss.”
“What mama? What can I do?”
“You can start.”
“Yes, you can start. You can start playing your music that you have worked so hard to learn. You can start showing that fear who is boss, you can start standing up for yourself and your talent. You can start. Clarissa, you don’t have to overcome all of your fear before you go out and do something, you simply have to start, and take it one step at a time.”
“I can do that, mama, I know I can!”
“Then start, Clarissa, it’s time.”
Pride started with the kiss mom planted on top of my head, and swept over my body with warmth. The fear settled into an emptiness in my stomach. I threw my shoulders back and held my head high as I walked out on stage. “Start, start, start,” I whispered over and over to myself.
I sat at the piano where my music notes crossed all together on the paper. I closed my eyes, “start, just start, Clarissa,” I told myself. Shaking hands played the first note, and then the second, until a song formed from the piano. I hadn’t gone out there to play a song; I had gone out there simply to start.
With pride I marched up to Mrs. Livingston when it was over, I declared in the most sophisticated voice that an eleven-year-old can muster.
“One can finish what one does start.”
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