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I have decided to go back and edit the older chapters and fix any typos, as well as add in the newer graphics. While there won’t be any substantive changes to the story, I may clean up a few things and streamline some of the storyline, since I have learned a fair amount about writing in this style over the course of the story.
Don’t feel like you really HAVE to reread these older chapters, but if you do and find you like them, please consider hitting the ‘Thumbs Up’ button if you haven’t already done so!
Thanks for supporting story and I hope you continue to enjoy it!
I blow into my hands and shiver. The brisk late fall New York City air is seeping into my bones and I know I am going to have to find a warmer place to sleep very soon. I vigorously rub my hands together to try and get my fingers to wake up and don’t even notice how grimy and decrepit my once meticulously maintained hands and nails look anymore.
I run my hands through my now shoulder length, very disheveled and tangled hair to get it out of my face and grab my few belongings—the only things that mean anything to me—and carefully peek around the corner from within the alleyway and out onto the street. It is still too early for kids to be in school, so it shouldn’t raise too many flags to see me walking down the street alone, but I don’t want to tempt fate.
Once I find that the coast is clear, I quickly hurry to my ‘safe’ spot for the day. I cover the few miles to the edge of the city in record time. This is where a number of other homeless people gather during the day and others guard at night. They sort of look out for me during the day, in that they will hide me if the authorities show up. Otherwise, I would certainly be taken away as a minor—and found out to be a run-away.
Mindy, a sweet old lady that has spent the last five years in the streets will usually have something remotely akin to edible for me to eat and keep up some semblance of energy when I get there each day. She used to be a chef before she gave it all up to live on the streets—I really don’t know why; and I haven’t pried—anymore than any of them have really pried about me.
I haven’t seen myself in a mirror in nearly a year; time has become more or less meaningless to me since I ran away some eleven months ago—hunger, however, doesn’t care. It now constantly reminds me that time IS a factor in my life and it won’t be ignored.
I find Mindy and, sure enough, she hands me a stale old brownie and says, “Here, Day, I scored big time, this morning. Just scrape the little bit of mold off the corner there and it will be as good as new!” She smiles and her once obviously well-cared-for teeth reveal themselves in their now increasingly brownish-green stained ‘glory’. She then grimaces and says, “It has basically no nutritional value, but calories are calories when it starts getting cold.”
I don’t even shudder at the mold anymore—hunger will do that to you. Of course, I haven’t been on a scale in eleven months, either; any more than I have seen myself—but I know that I now am but a shadow of my former self. My ribs are easy to pick out; clearly showing through the ratty old sweater that I had dug out of a bag set beside a Goodwill donation box. I had shared the other things from the bag with my new ‘family’.
I slowly eat the brownie, after carefully scraping the mold off one corner, where it had started forming because of a small tear in the wrapper. When I down the last crumb—and make sure there is not another left anywhere in the packaging—I go to my normal spot under the bridge and open up my case.
This has become my morning ritual for the past few months; ever since I arrived in New York after a long and intense journey alone across the country. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I figured this was about as far away as I could get—in order to get lost in the bustle of the big city.
I reverently take out my violin—one of my three most prized possessions. It was handed down to me by my father, who had, in turn, received it from his. According to my father, it had originally belonged to my great-great-grandfather. It was always handed down to the first male born in the next generation on that boy’s sixteenth birthday. I frown at the fact that I had ‘received’ it a little earlier than that.
I take up the bow and deftly play some warm-up strokes and quickly tune the old instrument. I treat it with much more care than I endow on my own life. Once I am satisfied that the sound is true, I start playing a slow, baleful song—similar to one you might hear if you are familiar with ‘Riverdance’. It echoes mournfully off the embankments under the old bridge.
I close my eyes and let my mind wander freely as my left fingers automatically strike the proper chords on the strings and my right hand carefully strokes those strings with the well-worn bow. When I am playing, I don’t feel the cold—or the gnawing hunger.
In my mind, I picture another lifetime. Was it really less than a year ago? I am at home and my father is giving me my daily lesson—sternly critiquing my playing. Cursing in German when I don’t get it perfectly and he thinks I am not paying attention. My grandfather came from Germany and my father held that country’s traditions firmly as the gospel on how to raise and run a family.
I internally grimace as I don’t hit one note just right. I am sure my ‘audience’ doesn’t notice, but I can hear my father cursing in my mind, “Sack und Asche, Amadeus! Kreuz Himmel Herr Gott, noch mal! Pass doch auf!”
I smile wanly and finish out the piece. When I am done, I slowly once again become aware of the cold and carefully put the violin and bow back in its case.
Gerry, a friendly, toothless old guy that showed up here a week after I did, asks, “Are you SURE you’re just fifteen, kid?” He asks the same question every morning.
My answer is the same as every morning, “Last I checked, Gerry. Are you SURE you were in the Navy?”
He chuckles and claps me on the shoulder—which, as cold as it is becoming, actually hurts. He gives me the usual response, “Forty-one years to the day, Sonny!”
Actually, over half the ‘residents’ here are former military—men and women that gave years of their life to their country and now find they, somehow, don’t fit into our society anymore.
Mindy looks at me and breaks into my reverie and she says with a concerned voice, “You need to find a warm spot for tonight, Love. Scuttlebutt has it that there is a storm coming in tonight—an early winter storm. It’s possible we’ll even get a fair bit of snow.”
I sigh. I knew this day was coming and I had been preparing for it. I also know that I will have to resort to something illegal—and that is not how I was raised. The thought bothers me a lot.
I nod and say, “Thanks, Mindy. I have a plan—I think. I better get prepared, though. Thank you for everything. If it warms up again before winter really hits, I’ll be back. If not, and I survive the winter, I’ll see you in the spring?”
She nods and gives me a hug. When she breaks it, her grimy face is streaked from tears running down her face. She shakes her head in emotional pain. We both know that not everyone will make it until spring.
I quickly go around and shake everyone’s hand—or give them a hug, whichever is most appropriate. It is a rag-tag group of people that convene here under the old railroad bridge; it is also the only family I have at the moment. I will miss them tremendously.
I take my precious possessions and make my way back into the city where I stealthily sneak to a spot on the grounds of the old school building that I have been scoping out. I think it is the perfect place to try and get through the winter. It is a really old brick building that was once very majestic, I am sure. Now, it shows signs of decay—I can relate to it in more ways than one, in that regard; it also happens to be a school of music and dance.
I hide in some evergreens and wait for evening to come—doing my best to ignore the hunger and the ever-increasing cold in my bones. Countless hours later, I stretch as carefully as I can and slowly blow into my hands. My muscles are cramped and my fingers are frozen to the bone. I am careful not to let the vapor of my ‘breath’ escape the bushes that I am hiding in. I seriously want to get up and stamp my feet—they are in near excruciating pain and getting numb in the cold. While the numbness is welcome over the pain—it also really scares me.
Actually, pain is nothing new to my feet—Mama saw to that. No, not in a bad way. As a first-generation Russian immigrant, she and my father fell in love soon after she arrived in San Francisco. She was an actual Prima Ballerina in Russia, but fled the corruption that was spreading in the country to try and make a life in the States.
She did dance for years in various companies, but retired after she had me. She made it her mission in life after that to teach me ballet. While my father was mathematically methodical in his ways and had a completely masculine and patriarchic approach to teaching me music, Mama was completely the opposite. Sure, she was exacting and made sure that I maintained the proper discipline when dancing, but she was overwhelmingly compassionate and as feminine in her ways as father was masculine—if not more so.
In short, Father pushed me to embrace my masculine side; Mama encouraged me to nurture my feminine one.
To take my mind off the cold and hunger, I look in my bag at my only other possessions outside of my violin. I lovingly caress the soft satin of Mama’s worn-out and ‘dead’ pointe shoes. They are certainly no longer any good to dance in, but they are one of my only remaining connections to her. Then I let the pale pink ribbons sewn onto my own pair of pointe shoes absent-mindedly run through my cold and grimy fingers. It is a brand new pair—not even broken in, yet. Mama had given them to me right before…I left. The way she had me practice for hours every day, I would go through a pair about every three months…
I sigh and carefully close the bag, then quickly crouch down further. The lady that always leaves the school last is locking the front door. As luck would have it, I had also heard some students say, as they were leaving, that the school is closed tomorrow and for the entire weekend. I have carefully watched the routine around the school the last few months—no one comes here while the place is closed.
And I have found a way in.
I smile; I should have a nice warm spot to ride out the storm and figure out where I will go from there.
I wait until I am sure the lady has driven off and is not coming back, then I go to the old cellar doors that lead to the boiler room. I quickly peer through the dirty window and make sure no one is inside—then turn the fake rock over in the dilapidated flower bed and shake out the key. I had stumbled onto it one evening by pure luck—literally, I mean. I kicked it over—and the key fell out. It did not take long to discover that it opens the lock to that cellar door…
With shaky hands and frozen fingers, I fumble with the key and finally unlock the door. I replace the key with increasingly numb fingers and quickly start opening the door. My heart stops as the hinge screams from lack of use and maintenance. I slowly open the door, cringing the whole way, just wide enough to get my things through the opening and I can disappear into the cellar where I nearly faint from the unaccustomed heat of the room.
I lock the door behind me and quickly scramble behind some shelves in a dark corner and wait with a pounding heart to see if anyone has noticed my less-than-quiet entry.
I don’t dare move for a LONG time. I nearly scream and curse as my fingers and toes start thawing out and burning like someone has doused them with gasoline and lit them on fire. After a while, they are thawed enough to quit burning and I am starting to feel confident that I have not been discovered.
I just start to carefully come out from my hiding place when I see a light bouncing around outside the window and hear voices. I dive back behind the shelf and crouch as low as I can.
I hear the door being harshly rattled and see the beam of a flashlight play around the room as it passes through the filthy window.
I think I am going to have a heart attack on the spot.
A woman says, “Thank you, officer. It was obviously a false alarm. This old alarm system has been giving us some fits. I will have the alarm company come out on Monday to check on it.”
A man replies, “It certainly looks that way, Ma’am. There is no sign of forced entry, anywhere. Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you and check things out?”
The woman answers, “No, the storm, if it really DOES hit, will be here soon. Maybe we will dodge the bullet—but, either way, I am sure you have other things to take care of. I am going to head home…”
The voices fade away as the light also bounces back out of site.
I collapse on the floor—I don’t dare move the rest of the night. It is too dark to go anywhere, anyway. There is NO way I am going to turn on any lights…
When it finally starts to get light outside, I decide to move. I had slept in bits and pieces on the hard concrete, but, in total, actually got more sleep than I have in quite some time.
I quietly wait and listen. Hearing nothing, I move to the heavy door that must lead to the rest of the basement. I carefully turn the knob and open the door a crack. I breathe a sigh of relief when the door doesn’t squeak, this time.
I carefully peer out into the hallway and don’t see anything. I decide to strike ‘burglar’ from my list of future employment options—my heart is pounding all the way into my throat; I am decidedly nervous.
I slowly open the door enough to slip out, making sure that I have all of my things. I stealthily make my way down the hall and come to a stairway that leads…up…
I take several deep breaths and steel my resolve—I put my foot on the first step…then the next…and so on.
After what seems like an hour, but was in reality about two minutes, I peek my head around the corner at the top of the stairs. It is another hallway…and it is completely empty. Once again, my heart is beating in my throat as I start quietly down the hallway. It is barely light outside and there is only a small window at each end of the long hall—so, it is still really murky and hard to see.
I jump at a noise. I am not sure what it is—or was—but it spurs me to try the first door that I come across. It opens and I disappear into it and close it quickly behind me. It is pitch black in the room and the floor is cold—some sort of tile. I sit there, shivering from fear, and wait in silence.
After I am fairly certain that the noise was either nothing—or my imagination—I reach up and turn on the light. If no light is coming IN, I rationalize that none will go OUT, either.
I blink as my eyes try and get accustomed to the sudden bright light. After a minute, I can see again…and find myself in some sort of locker room. I pass by the lockers and find an area with toilets—only stalls and no urinals, so I must be in the girl’s locker room. I don’t care at the moment and move on. I see the showers to my left and, to the right…mirrors…
I gasp when I see myself.
I knew I was in bad shape, but I scare even myself.
My hair is wild and would put any Halloween witch’s wig to shame, the way it is tangled and full of…stuff… A rat’s nest comes to mind—and yes, I have seen plenty of those in some of the places I have slept.
But, worse, I am SKINNY. If I look past the dirt and grime, I look like the old pictures I remember seeing of Mama—back when she was in Russia. She was anorexic back then, as was expected of ballerinas—and I look very much like her, right now.
I slowly take off my clothes and grimace at my clearly protruding ribs. There is no sign of puberty setting in, at all. Now, I know why they had all thought I was a girl when I first showed up at the bridge… Except for my VERY little guy below, I much more resemble a pre-pubescent girl than a boy with my long hair and skinny body.
I look longingly at the showers. I know it is a real risk, but… I turn on the water and let it warm up as I hold my hand under the stream. Steam slowly starts to rise from the water and the siren song of it enveloping me is too strong. I step in…
Thirty minutes later, I am in front of one of the sinks, looking in the mirror. Someone had forgotten a brush and I am using it to try and get the tangles out of my hair. After a fight that I almost give up on, I finally am able to pass the brush through my hair without yanking it out by the roots. There are several of those little rubber bands that girls use on their hair lined up on the handle of the brush. I take one off and awkwardly pull my hair back into a ponytail. I get the rubber band around it and am glad to finally have my hair off of my face—this is certainly the longest it has ever been in my life.
Father is probably turning over in his grave at the thought of it. I shake my head at that thought and then grin—Mama is probably ecstatic in hers.
This was my first hot shower in nearly a year. Other than ‘bathing’ in a river or pond—or ‘showering’ in the rain, I have not had the chance to feel truly clean in that long. I give my filthy clothes a baleful look.
I shrug and put the stopper into the sink and fill it with water. I rinse my clothes out the best I can. I let the water out and repeat this several times, until the water is running MOSTLY clear. Then I go and get a hand full of shampoo from the dispenser in the showers. I thoroughly wash out my clothes twice more and hang them in the showers to dry.
Not really wanting to stand around naked, or just wrapped in a towel, I look around the locker room. I am surprised to actually find a shelf with leotards, tights, and ballet flats. There is a sign that says, “For use if you have forgotten anything. Use is on the honor system—please return washed and neatly folded.”
I go through the stacks and find what I think will fit. I quickly pull the pink tights up my legs and then pull on the black leotard. It certainly isn’t the first time I have worn this particular combination—it was my standard fare for my ballet lessons with Mama—to my father’s chagrin. Mama always won that argument, though. I never saw the big deal, either way—it is just clothes.
I dig through and find some leather ballet flats that are the proper size and put them on my feet.
Feeling clean, I get adventurous. I turn off the lights and peek out a crack in the door into the hallway. It is much lighter outside now. I see mild flurries coming down and am thankful to be inside.
Not seeing anyone or hearing anything, I exit into the hallway—taking my things, other than my wet clothes, with me. I notice the sign, now clearly visible on the outside of the door that says, “Girl’s Lockers”. There is a similar door across the hallway that says, “Boy’s Lockers”. I shake my head at whatever fate had driven me left instead of right.
I go down the hallway and find a breakroom of some sort. There is a refrigerator! I open the door and peer inside. I find a half-eaten sub sandwich and, shameful of what I am doing, wolf it down. I rationalize that it won’t be any good by next week and would likely get thrown out anyway. I smile that Mindy would have saved it even from that fate…
I drink some water straight from the tap and carefully clean things up—I certainly won’t leave a mess!
My stomach is queasy after eating the sandwich—it is the first time I have eaten anything that rich in quite some time and my stomach is not used to it. I stand still for a bit, holding my stomach—afraid I am going to throw it back up. I finally get it to settle, through sheer willpower, I think, and move on down the hallway—my leather flats making that familiar swishing sound on the floor.
Suddenly, I really miss Mama and have to fight back tears.
I take a deep breath and peek in through the glass in a door and gasp when I see a dance studio! Putting caution aside, I quickly go in and lovingly put my hands on the well-worn barre. I stroke it as reverently as I caress my violin when it is in my hands.
I do a couple of practice pliés and rush to my bag. I take out my pointe shoes and deftly put them on my feet and tie the ribbons. I go through a rigorous warm-up and stretching routine. I find I have lost some of my flexibility due to lack of stretching. I giggle—stretch or eat? Not much of a question on the streets…
I let the music ‘play’ in my head and go through one of the routines from Swan Lake that Mama had taught me—it was one of the first I had ever learned; it was one of the black swan’s more difficult pieces.
The leotard is thoroughly soaked when I am done. I wonder if I can wash it the same way I did my clothes… I don’t want to leave a mess.
I sit down under the barre, my back to the mirrored wall, and take up my violin case. I carefully open it and take out the precious instrument from inside it. I hum the tune of the piece I had just danced to and slowly start playing it.
I play it through, twice, and feel long-suppressed tears start flowing down my cheeks as I clearly remember first Mama teaching me to dance the piece—then father teaching me to play it.
I start playing harder and harder as my anger and pain comes out. I don’t notice the strands of my bow starting to break as the fragile horse’s hairs can’t take the pressure I am exerting on the strings.
By the time I realize what I am doing to my precious bow, the last strand breaks. I collapse into a miserable heap on the floor and wail.
I am not sure how long I lay there in the floor, but the ominous ‘CLICK’ of the door makes me raise my head in alarm.
The lady that always leaves last is standing in front of the obviously now locked door; key in hand. She has a grim look on her face as she intently stares at me and puts the key in her pocket.
I am speechless. I had just decided to get my things and leave this place—the memories are too intense. Now, it seems, I am trapped. I hold back a sob. There is no doubt in my mind that I cannot get past her.
The lady just shakes her head and asks, “Would you please explain yourself, young lady?”
This story was written and freely posted to Big Closet. If you are NOT reading this story on Big Closet, you are reading a pirated and stolen copy of this story. Please immediately inform the host of the site you found this story on that they have a pirated copy of this story on their website in violation of international copyright laws. Discontinue reading the story and any other stories in this series or authored by Shauna on this site. You can find an official copy of this story by following this link to Amadeus Irina.
I look at the weather predictions one more time—in the stupid hope that something has changed in the last three minutes.
I mutter out loud, to myself, “It’s way too early for this. Six inches plus of snow before Halloween? We haven’t seen that in quite a while. I suppose I may as well heed the city’s advice and cancel classes for tomorrow. It’s going to be a nightmare!”
I quickly go to the school’s website and make the announcement, then place the calls to the local media. When I am done, I sit back and sigh. I marvel at the fact that, at my age, I have become so comfortable with updating a website. I rue the fact that I have to—there was a time that my secretary could have done that.
I muse on the fact that, now, we can barely afford to keep the doors open…and this is, or at least WAS, one of New York’s finest and oldest schools of music and dance. We used to send the majority of our students on to the best of the best—like Julliard. Many famous musicians and dancers started out here. We had waiting lists for our waiting lists.
The last headmistress, however, was a traditionalist to the core—and ruled the school with a heavy hand and in that manner; as had been done for decades. However, it seems that the traditional ways of teaching our chosen disciplines are not as respected or valued, anymore. At least not at the middle and high school level. With dwindling enrollment, the board started looking at other options. Would they REALLY tear down these majestic halls to put up a parking garage?
I sigh and look at the clock. It is nearly five and classes will be letting out for the day—and it seems for the weekend, since tomorrow is Friday and the school will be closed. I make a note to go to the boiler room before I leave and set the thermostat down to 65 degrees. We need to save where we can—but, we can’t afford anymore broken pipes, so I can’t turn the heat completely off.
I watch the students leave from my window. I remember the throngs that would leave at the end of the day back when I first started teaching here. Nearly five hundred excited students would crowd out the doors back then—now, we barely make it to two-hundred. We had over three hundred that boarded here in the now near-empty dorms. I am preparing to just shut down one dorm and consolidate the few we have into one co-ed building to save on costs.
I make my way to the boiler room once I am sure that I am the last one in the building. I can’t help but internally struggle with the school’s issues as I walk down the empty corridors. It is not that there isn’t demand for the arts—it is just a somewhat changing demand. The last headmistress missed the boat on moving the school in a new direction to keep up with the times. Now, it seems it is too late—the board is starving the school to death. There is little money for faculty provided, which limits the number of students that can be let in, which feeds the board’s monster.
A parking garage? Really?
I shake my head and go down the stairs to the basement. I open the heavy door to the boiler room and set the controls for the heat down to 65 degrees. I double check everything and sigh—I don’t even have the budget for ongoing maintenance, anymore. At least the old boiler seems to be hanging in there.
I close the heavy door behind me and walk up the stairs to the main floor. I check to make sure the lights are all off and set the alarm—whatever good IT will do. It has become increasingly…cranky…lately. One more false alarm and the police will start charging for coming out.
I sigh and lock the front the door and walk out to my car—my heart as heavy as that door to the boiler room.
I ALMOST make it home, before the alarm company calls and says the alarm is going off. They tell me the police have already been dispatched. I hang up, curse the luck, and turn around to get back to the school in the heavy traffic of people trying to get home ahead of the storm.
By the time I get back to the school, a policeman is already walking around the building. He has checked three of the sides and I walk around back with him after shutting off the silent alarm. He shines his flashlight on all the windows and gives the old storm door to the boiler room a solid shake.
He shines his light through the filthy window into the boiler room one more time and shakes his head.
I say, “Thank you, officer. It was obviously a false alarm. This old alarm system has been giving us some fits. I will have the alarm company come out on Monday to check on it.”
He smiles and replies, “It certainly looks that way, Ma’am. There is no sign of forced entry, anywhere. Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you and check things out?”
I shake my head and say, “No, the storm, if it really DOES hit, will be here soon. Maybe we will dodge the bullet—but, either way, I am sure you have other things to take care of. I am going to head home and make some hot soup. I think I will just curl up with a good book and enjoy the extra day off. Thank you again, for coming out, officer.”
He waits for me to reset the alarm and lock the front door, then unlock my car and says, “Unfortunately, we will have to charge you this time…”
I sigh and say, “I understand. Be careful out there, OK?”
I start my car and drive home in a funk. That is JUST what I need right now—even though it is only a hundred dollars, that is money that could be used for other things.
I vow not to think about it anymore tonight, though. I drive home and make that soup that I promised myself. I kiss Rich goodnight and read until about one in the morning, trying not to keep him awake, before snuggling up to him and falling asleep to the snow that is falling at a much slower rate than predicted.
I sleep in bits and pieces—waking up every half hour. My mind just won’t stop thinking about the school. Finally, I give up and quietly get up at dawn—making sure not to disturb Rich. I look out and see there is a scant inch of snow on the ground. It is bitterly cold, though.
I make a quick breakfast and put on some warm clothes. With nothing better to do, since I know Rich needs to work on a case, I decide to drive into the school and work on some paperwork that has been piling up.
I pull into my normal parking lot, my tires squeaking loudly on the bitterly cold snow. The drive in had been fine—most people were enjoying the extra day off. Although, there really is no need for it in hind-sight—the streets are fine.
I walk up the path to the front door of the building, my boots squeaking in the snow, and dig out the key. I quickly enter the alarm code and turn it off—that is ALL I would need if it went off again. I clean the snow off of my boots on the entry mat and quickly walk up the stairs to the second floor and to my office.
I put my purse down and glance at the monitors on my desk, more out of habit than anything. I nearly scream in surprise when I see a young girl exiting the girl’s back locker room on the first floor—in full dress—and make her way to the break room. I can’t see what she is doing, however, since there aren’t any cameras mounted there.
I reach for the phone and pick up the receiver. I am not sure whether it will cost to have the police come out for a REAL call. Then I decide to wait and see what she is up to. She is so tiny, there is no doubt that I can take her—assuming she is alone.
After a few minutes, she comes out of the breakroom and goes down the hall towards the back studios. She is moving slowly and holding her stomach, like she is going to be sick. Finally, she straightens up and keeps walking down the hall. She seems excited to find the first studio and hurries in.
I grab my cell phone and hurry down the back stairs. I come out not far from the studio I saw her enter. I go to the door, not worried that she can see me; the glass is one-way—looking IN. It is designed that way, so that the class can be observed without disturbing them.
She is so tiny—I can distinctly see her ribs through the leotard. She is putting on pointe shoes and seems to be deep in thought.
You could blow me over with a feather when she starts dancing one of the most difficult pieces from swan lake—without music! It is obvious that she somehow has the music fully memorized in her head. And she is dancing the piece perfectly—if a bit stiff.
I am about to enter the studio after her ‘performance’ when she further surprises me by taking out a violin. She holds it reverently and starts playing it and I nearly faint. I look as closely as I can through the door and am nearly one hundred percent sure that she is playing a Stradivarius. I finger my phone—she MUST have stolen it from somewhere… But she plays it so hauntingly well—like she is VERY intimate with it.
I put my phone back in my pocket and listen to her play through the very ballet she had just danced so beautifully. She plays it equally as beautifully. I am at a loss—how can this be? She can’t be more than thirteen…
Then she starts playing harder and harder—but still in full control of the music—obviously full of anger and grief about something. I watch the horse hair strands break, one after the other. Then she collapses on the floor in an obvious puddle of misery as the last one snaps.
I once again pull out my phone and start to dial 911. I sigh and put it away after entering just the first ‘one’. I quickly open the door, enter, and lock it behind me. I put the key in my pocket and just look at the girl, who looks up at me with the most terrified of faces I think I have ever seen. I have seen a lot of guilty faces as headmistress—this one goes beyond guilt; there is clear remorse, there, as well.
I simply shake my head and ask, “Would you please explain yourself, young lady?”
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