I would do anything to play like her. When she played the flute, the heavens listened. She was that good.
Delicious shivers tickled my toes and danced up to my chin as I lay awake from sheer excitement.
Sonoea Machuki, the most talented to ever grace a flute. She had volunteered to tutor a class of no more than eight students.
I was one of them.
How my music teachers had chosen me, was the product of a miracle and weeks of dedicated practice.
The big morning came and I could barely stand still long enough for Mother’s obligatory good luck speech.
I swallowed my fears and tipped my chin upwards. I had a gift too. I wouldn’t need luck.
Not with Sonoea as my teacher. She’d probably share a few of her precious secrets and then play something, a song or two to inspire us.
“Amisha Randolph for Miss Machuki’s flute class.” I told the receptionist, relieved that my voice hadn’t wobbled.
The receptionist gave me a look of pity. “Second door to your left down the hall where that boy in green just went in.” She pointed and smiled. “Good luck, hon.”
I wanted to tell her I didn’t need luck. Not with Sonoea as my teacher, but my mouth stubbornly refused to let me be rude.
Instead, it curved upwards in a smile and said thank you, in a polite voice as my feet started off in the direction she’d pointed.
My feelings pushed and shoved their way to the surface as my fingers hovered over the doorknob.
I closed my eyes for the briefest of moments and whispered a prayer.
A wave of warmth washed over me and I opened my eyes and stared into frosted, salad-green, eagle-eyes.
“Miss Randolph?” Her voice was clipped and serious.
“Yes?” My voice squeaked out as my mind registered the speaker’s identity.
“If you don’t mind, we’re waiting.” Sonoea gestured towards a large, empty theater. On stage, there were two empty seats.
I swallowed. “Sorry.”
She sniffed. “Time is of the utmost importance, Miss Rudolph.” Her brisk way hurried me along. “See that you are not late for the remaining sessions.”
Her disapproval settled on me like a weight I couldn’t carry. I wanted to tell her that I’d do my best, that I’d do anything to be like her, but my lips fused together as I slid into my seat and stared at the ground.
Her grating cough brought me to my senses to see that I was the only one not holding my flute.
Nervous fingers fluttered on the clasps and a moments later I held my precious instrument.
Sonoea had me play an opening piece.
I have never played so badly before an audience.
Even the fellow across from me winced at the wrong notes.
I only wished that I’d let my hair down to hide my burning cheeks. After all these years of music lessons, in the midst of my only heroine, I’d done my absolute worst.
She didn’t say a word. I almost wished she’d say something, but she pressed her lips together and looked away for a long moment.
When she looked back, she focused on the girl next to me.
The class dragged through in a muddle I couldn’t decode. I was the first one up when she announced our dismissal. The bathroom was my only destination.
Until I realized I’d forgotten to grab my flute.
Paralytic pains seized my stomach. I forced my feet to change course and hurry to the dreaded theater.
My flute lay at the edge of the stage near my chair. I made a beeline towards it.
“The Randolph girl? She was the worst one!” Sonoea’s voice echoed on stage. “Remind me to strangle that incompetent press agent! Teaching a handful of wannabes.” She snorted. “If they had a shred of talent-I wouldn’t mind much.” A few half-notes sounded through the air. “They will never reach my level. They haven’t got the heart for it.”
Her words slipped into the puddle of anger I’d overstepped earlier. It boiled and brewed for a moment. This time, I found my voice.
I cleared my throat and climbed onto the stage. The sound of my footsteps drew their attention and before they could speak, I did. “I would have given anything. Anything, to be like you, Miss Machuki.” Her face had the decency to flare an icy pink. “I only wish you were worthy of such praise.”
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