Amadeus Irina ~ Part 2 (Revised)

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December 2016 Spirit of Giving Story Contest Entry

 

A lonely young boy is torn between two worlds. Which will he choose—that of his father OR that of his mother?

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Amadeus Irina

By Shauna

Copyright© 2017 Shauna
All Rights Reserved.
 
Splash collage courtesy of Dawn Natelle
(all image originals sourced from Creative Commons)

Author’s Note:
 
Hi All,

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!

HUGS!
S


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Chapter Two

 
AMADEUS

I know I am screwed! Caught red-handed and now I will have to pay the price. I guess there is no sense telling anything but the truth… Or is there?

I sigh and sit up straight, like Mama taught me to when in ‘ballet’ mode. I look up at the lady giving me a very stern look and force the bile back down that is rising up from my still very fragile stomach. It tastes like sub sandwich and I shudder as I do my best to choke it back down. Somehow, I don’t think it will serve me well to throw up all over her boots—the ones that she is tapping in frustrated impatience.

I finally get up the nerve to say, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I was just trying to get warm…and then, I couldn’t resist the showers…and I will figure out some way to pay for that part of a sandwich, I promise!”

She looks shocked and as is quiet for a minute or two. Finally, she asks, “Err…right. OK, then. Let’s try this differently. What is your name?”

I try and pull the moisture back into my mouth; it has suddenly become as dry as cotton. I sort of croak—or maybe it is more of a squeak. Anyway, I finally get out, “Amadeus. People call me ‘Day’.”

She gives me a puzzled look. She says, “That’s a boy’s name—and a very unconventional one, at that. Let’s try again, young lady. What is your name? I have no problem calling the authorities on the spot if you don’t come clean with me—IMMEDIATELY!”

I feel the blood drain from my face. I start to feel faint. I sort of whisper, my mouth, if anything, even drier. I say, “I…I…I…AM a boy…”

That sets her back. She rocks back and forth from her heels onto her toes, obviously trying to decide what to do. Finally, she says, “OK. Let’s say that is true—for argument’s sake. Then, tell me why you are dressed in that fashion. And how, pray tell, were you able to dance one of the most difficult FEMALE pieces from Swan Lake? You certainly don’t appear to be a ‘boy’ to me. No…I think you are lying…and I won’t fall for it.”

She starts to reach into the pocket where she obviously has a phone.

I squeak—this time I am certain that is what I do. Anyway, I squeak, “No! Wait! I’m not lying. Mama taught me to dance that piece. She always had me learn the female parts…ever since I was really little.”

She still looks like she doesn’t believe me. I can’t say that I blame her, really. It is not a side of me that I EVER let outside of the house. Not that I had many friends back home, but none of the ones I DID have knew about that side of my lessons. It is not that I was ashamed of it—I just know that people would think it is…weird.

She says in a dubious tone, “Well… Let’s move on for a moment… You then played the music to the same piece…on the violin.”

I nod, my mouth still giving cotton a run for its money. I say, “Father taught me.”

She gives me a sidelong look and asks, “And the violin? Where did that come from?”

I nervously look at the case and back at her. I say, “It was my great-great-grandfather’s. It has been handed down through the generations to me.”

She gives me a hard look—like she is staring into my soul. Finally, she seems to accept at least THAT for the truth and I let out the breath I had been holding. She says, “I will want to take a better look at it later. I could not see it clearly, is it a Stradivarius?”

I shake my head emphatically—I can hear Father laughing. I say, “No Ma’am! It is a Stainer--the best German quality. It is one of my three remaining possessions. It is the main reason I am here…”

She gives me a funny look and asks, “Here in this building?”

I sigh and debate whether to continue, but decide that being a smartass is not currently in my best interest. I respond, “In a manner of speaking, yes. Firstly, in New York—with that, secondly, in this building.”

She shakes her head, obviously having trouble following along with my story. It is her own fault. I am simply answering her questions. She asks, “OK, So, how did you get IN this building?”

I blush and say meekly, “I found the key into the boiler room, through the storm doors… You know—the one in the fake rock.”

She looks at the ceiling and says in an incredulous whisper, “Of course, the key… No wonder…” Her eyes focus back on me and she continues in a more normal tone and volume, “And you came in here to get warm, you say? Why would you need to do that? Where do you live?”

That is the question I have been dreading. I whisper, “On the streets…”

She blanches at my admission and nods as if that was sort of what she expected me to say. She says, “Well then, gather your things immediately and come with me.”

I feel the blood, once again, drain from my face. She is going to turn me over to the authorities, I can feel it. I hear Mama telling me to get ready to make a run for it. I hear Father telling me that I am an idiot for getting caught—and what am I doing here anyway TO get caught, anyway?

I know there is no hope in escaping. She marches me up some stairs, following close behind me—too close to even attempt to run. It seems she is a pro at this sort of thing; she plainly doesn’t trust me. That goes both ways, though. Mama instilled a deep-seated distrust of the authorities in me, while Father ensured that I would always follow the rules and stay within the law. According to him, then I wouldn’t ever have to WORRY about the authorities. Mama and Father disagreed on that issue a lot.

Fat lot of good either philosophy is doing me right now…

I briefly consider jumping through a window and taking my chances—too bad we are on the second floor…and it is freezing cold out…and I am just in thin tights and a lightweight leotard…

I resignedly let her guide me into an office—obviously hers. The feel of the office is…warmly comfortable and very feminine. It reminds me of Mama. It doesn’t remind me of what I envision a strict authoritarian’s office would look like.

I look around. The walls are a pale pink and the furniture is glossy white. There are pictures of various dancers and musicians on the wall—all signed. I assume they must have gone here. A vase of flowers sits on the desk—alongside monitors that are obviously hooked to cameras throughout the school.

I shake my head in chagrin—THERE is that authoritarian vein she must have. It is obvious that is how she found me… I sigh at my stupidity. To be fair, though—she is not supposed to BE here. It goes against her routine… Of course, the closure does as well. I really AM stupid!

She sits down, her back ram-rod straight, in one of two chairs at a small round table by the window. The table has those funny raptor claw feet; you know—the ones wrapped around glass balls. It doesn’t really look antique, though. It somehow reminds me of a little bistro table that had mated with an antique library one. The chairs are of a similar design with pink velour seats and high, straight backs. She indicates for me to sit.

I follow her implied command—eerily and explicitly conveyed through a single look—and sit in the opposite chair with my back perfectly straight, legs together, and my hands folded in my lap. My belongings are close by my feet.

She looks at me and asks, “Would you like something to drink? You look too young for coffee—how about some hot cocoa or tea?”

I blink… This doesn’t seem like the treatment I would expect from my captor. She must just be trying to butter me up—Mama warned me that the authorities could be that way. That being said, it does sound good. I don’t THINK she would poison me…or sedate me. She DOES have the upper hand—at the moment, anyway.

I nod and say, still, dry-mouthed. “Yes, Ma’am, some hot tea would be really nice. Could I maybe have some water, first, though. I…am not used to dancing, anymore—or hydrating…”

She smiles and nods. She gets up and elegantly walks to a small refrigerator in a corner cabinet—she reminds me of Mama in the way she walks. She walks like a ballerina. I had not noticed it before because she was behind me the whole way up here. She opens the refrigerator and takes out a cold bottle of beautifully CLEAN water. She sets it on the counter and places a pod in a Keurig machine and turns it on.

She brings me the water and I notice her elegant walk, once again. It is clear that she is a dancer—or, at least was at one time. I study her movements and decide she must be really good, too.

I thankfully take the bottle and open it. I sip the cold water a little at a time and rejoice as the cotton in my mouth is slowly reconstituted to a more normal moisture level for healthy mucous membranes. By the time the bottle is empty, the tea is done.

She asks, “Do you take sugar or cream?”

I shake my head and say, “No, Madame. Neither.”

She gives me a surprised look and motions for me to come get the cup. I carefully take my tea back to the table and she starts a cup of coffee for herself. I carefully mold my hands around the delicate pink-flowered bone china cup and appreciatively breathe in the smell of the tea. I can’t remember my last cup of tea, but I can remember sharing tea with Mama every afternoon after a grueling dance lesson. I smile at the memory…

Unfortunately, my reverie is cut short by the lady coming back to the table with a cup of obviously mucked-up coffee. I glance at the liquid and see that she has cut it with cream—it is a light toffee color. That brings back memories of Father—he rarely drank tea. He did love coffee, though—and would have laughed at her for ruining the bitter liquid by adding anything to it. He and Mama agreed on THAT part—NEVER cream or sugar; they just disagreed on the liquid base…

The lady clears her throat and says, “OK. First things, first. My name is Grace Levine and I am the headmistress here at the school.” She blows slowly across the surface of her coffee and the steam billows in my direction; the smell, once again, reminding me of Father. She takes a careful sip and grimaces. She says, “I’m not a fan of ‘pod’ coffee—even cream and sugar can’t mask the…off…taste. I’m not much of a tea drinker, I’m afraid—so, I hope it’s better than…this…”

I smile at that and think to myself, “Beggars can’t be choosers…”

I take a careful sip—it is hot and slightly bitter. Mama’s was MUCH better—it still tastes like heaven, though. I say, “It’s perfect, Madame Levine. Thank you.”

She quietly studies me through the steam rising off of her cup for a minute as she holds the cup in both hands and in front of her face—both elbows braced on the table. Her back is still absolutely straight. Finally, she shakes her head and says, “You obviously are no stranger to the world of ballet. You dance very well. I will assume with proper stretching and warming up, you are even better, since you seem to be a bit…out of practice. The fact that you know to address me as ‘Madame’ also speaks volumes…”

I sit quietly and remain silent, the only sound coming from my side of the table is an occasional sipping sound as I savor the warming effect of the tea. It is doing wonders on soothing my irritable stomach.

She says, “So, let me get this straight. You’re not from NYC. Your name is Amadeus. You live on the streets. You are a boy. You have been trained in classical ballet—but you dance the female roles. You have also been trained to play classical music on a Stainer that you also happen to own—even though you live on the streets… Have I got it right, so far?”

I decide, at this point, it is better to make her pull anything more out of me. I think the less I freely divulge the better—even if she bribes me with more tea. I simply nod.

She taps the table with her perfectly manicured, long pink nails. I watch them—they, also, remind me of Mama. She is obviously in thought and waiting for me to say more. When I don’t, she asks, “OK. So, then where ARE you from—and where are your parents?”

I pale—I know there is no sense in avoiding direct questions. When she turns me over to the ACTUAL authorities, there is no telling what methods they will use to extract the information from me. I just have to volunteer as little as possible.

I sigh and quietly say, though with a stronger voice than before, thanks to the moisturizing effect of the water and tea, “I am from San Francisco, Madame. My parents are…deceased.”

She closes her eyes and bows her head—like she is really sad. Finally, she looks up and says, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Amadeus. When did they pass away?”

I sigh. I don’t want to give her any more information, but I know I am stuck… I say, “It will have been a year on Halloween.”

She gasps and says, “I see—nearly a year ago. And you have been on the streets since?”

I fight the urge to lie—it is clear what the next questions will be. I sigh and simply nod.

She looks…concerned… She asks, “And where did they pass away? I am sorry if this raises bad memories, but I am afraid I need to know these details.”

I hear Mama saying in my head, “See?! They will be putting you in jail next!” I shake my head as I hear Father’s voice saying, “Tell her, Junge! It’s bad enough you ran away and then broke in! I raised you better!”

I lick my lips and taste the last remnants of the tea on them. I say, “They passed away in San Francisco—a drunk driver hit their car coming home from a Halloween party, since that will obviously be your next question, Madame.” I say it respectfully—although, I WANT to be snide.

She closes her eyes in horror and then asks, “So, how did you get to New York…?”

The memories of the ‘journey’ flood into my brain—the horrors of hitching rides on trains, in the back of tractor-trailers, walking forever… The fear of getting caught. Finally making it to the bridge and finding the welcoming presence of Mindy and the others…

I am quiet for several minutes while all of that replays in my mind. It is clear that I am quiet for nearly TOO long. Madame Levine is obviously used to not having to wait for answers. Her tone is quiet—but, it could cut through steel. She says, “Amadeus, don’t make me repeat my questions…”

At that moment, she very much reminds me of Father. I blanch and quickly say, “I…well…I…TRAVELLED here…alone…”

She shakes her head. She obviously had expected a similar answer. She says, “OK. We will save the details of that…journey…for later. Who knows you are here? More importantly, WHY are you here?”

I start trembling. It is a natural reaction, actually. You see, I am terrified at this point. I made it all the way across the country BY MYSELF—and now… Well, now it is all for not…

I sigh and say, “No one knows where I am. That IS the purpose of coming here.”

She grimly nods. Again, it must be what she was expecting. She studies me for a few minutes—quietly dissecting me with her intensely grey eyes. She absent-mindedly strokes her very tight bun—her hair is a dark brown—and streaked with a grey that compliments her eyes.

She finally asks, “So you ran away to hide? But from what? Do tell—I really am trying to understand this.”

I shake my head and think hard; but, I can’t come up with anything. So, finally, I give in and confess, “Mama always told me to be wary of the authorities. When she and Father were…killed…I knew they would be coming after me—the authorities, I mean. I figured they would take me someplace I didn’t want to go…take my things away from me…”

She sighs and asks, “Amadeus, how old are you?”

I look at her, wondering where she is going with this, but say, “Nearly fifteen.”

She looks shocked. She continues, “And your full name?”

I smell a rat. I want to make something up, but I know that is a VERY short-term win. Finally, I say, “Amadeus Irina Schlosser.”

She sighs and asks, I think in genuine sorrow, “You know I have to contact the authorities, now, right?”

 

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GRACE

I watch a flood of emotions cross the child’s face. I am pretty sure she is a run-away—likely living on the streets. I know I can’t go easy on her—at least not yet… I give her a stern look and await her answer.

She sits up very straight in her chair—she has very good posture; she is obviously extensively trained in ballet. The green tinge to her face is not very becoming, though. I hope she doesn’t throw up all over the place! She obviously is not feeling very well.

I give her an even more glaring stare and am about to prompt her again, when she says, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I was just trying to get warm…and then, I couldn’t resist the showers…and I will figure out some way to pay for that part of a sandwich, I promise!”

I let that sink in. I can’t imagine having to live on the streets—if that is indeed where she is from. I also have no idea what sandwich she is talking about; it must be something she found in the breakroom. If so, it was either already spoiled—or on its way.

After a minute, I decide to continue my interrogation. I obviously need a different approach, though. I say, “Err…right. OK, then. Let’s try this differently. What is your name?”

She sort of squeaks, it is kind of cute, actually, as she says, “Amadeus. People call me ‘Day’.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it certainly was not THAT. I wonder if that is REALLY her name, or if she is trying to pull one over on me? I am not sure what she would have to gain by trying, but I decide to push a little and see how she reacts. I say, “That’s a boy’s name—and a very unconventional one, at that. Let’s try again, young lady. What is your name? I have no problem calling the authorities on the spot if you don’t come clean with me—IMMEDIATELY!”

I am really shocked when she proclaims in a stuttering and quiet whisper, “I…I…I…AM a boy…”

I am not sure what to do with THAT piece of information. She certainly doesn’t LOOK like a boy. A very young girl, yes—certainly TOO young to be alone on the streets. I decide to continue pushing her. I simply say, “OK. Let’s say that is true—for argument’s sake. Then, tell me why you are dressed in that fashion. And how, pray tell, were you able to dance one of the most difficult FEMALE pieces from Swan Lake? You certainly don’t appear to be a ‘boy’ to me. No…I think you are lying…and I won’t fall for it.”

I start to reach into my pocket where I have my phone. It is a bluff—but she does not know that.

She squeaks again, not so cutely this time, and says, “No! Wait! I’m not lying. Mama taught me to dance that piece. She always had me learn the female parts…ever since I was really little.”

I think to myself, “What a crock! But… I mean… How else…? Her Mama must be one hell of a dancer—and teacher.” I sigh and decide to try a different tack… I say, “Well… Let’s move on for a moment… You then played the music to the same piece…on the violin.”

She…he(?) nods and says, “Father taught me.”

I picture the violin she…(he?) was playing in my mind and look over at the case. The implication of the question is no doubt quite clear as I ask, “And the violin? Where did that come from?”

She…he(?) is clearly nervous about the instrument and says, “It was my great-great-grandfather’s. It has been handed down through the generations to me.”

I give her…him(?) a hard look. I have learned to scare students with my stare—well, those that deserve it. I reserve using the technique for special circumstances, though—this qualifies. Based on the reaction, it seems to be the truth. I say, “I will want to take a better look at it later. I could not see it clearly, is it a Stradivarius?” Actually, I AM quite curious about the instrument, itself—even though, I have no talent with or training on a violin, that is obviously a special piece.

She, he, it—whatever—thinks that is funny. I can see it in her eyes. To keep my thoughts cohesive and straight, I decide as long as SHE is dressed like that, she is a ‘she’. She shakes her head emphatically and says, “No Ma’am! It is a Stainer--the best German quality. It is one of my three remaining possessions. It is the main reason I am here…”

I think to myself, “A STAINER… Of course…I have heard of those. But still, if true—and it is authentic, that is a REALLY expensive instrument.” Then it hits me and I think, “Wait, what did she say? The main reason she is here?” I ask out loud, “Here in this building?”

She actually sighs then gets that look in her eye that tells me she is going to give me a smart-ass answer—it is the same look children get the world around. Then she seems to reevaluate and I see…resignation in her eyes. She responds, not in a smart-ass manner, but still defiant, “In a manner of speaking, yes. Firstly, in New York—with that, secondly, in this building.”

It is clear that she is not going to volunteer anything. Well, I am a master at verbal judo! I ask, “OK, So, how did you get IN this building?”

The answer she gives me SHOULD not surprise me, “I found the key into the boiler room, through the storm doors… You know—the one in the fake rock.”

I look at the ceiling and whisper to no one in particular in the heavens, “Of course, the key… No wonder…” I look back at her and ask, already sure I know the answer, “And you came in here to get warm, you say? Why would you need to do that? Where do you live?”

She VERY reluctantly whispers, “On the streets…”

I feel the blood drain from my face, in spite of fully expecting the answer. Of course I will have to contact child services—I have a feeling she is not going to like that at all. I sigh and resolve myself to the coming struggle. Maybe I can help—there is just something about her… I simply say, “Well then, gather your things immediately and come with me.”

I make her walk in front of me. I don’t really think she will try and run—or do anything REALLY stupid like jump out a window—but, she is my responsibility. For now, anyway. We will see how that plays out…for later…

I march her upstairs to my office—in spite of being clearly malnourished, she walks with the grace and confidence of someone that has been well-trained in classical ballet. We enter my office and she pauses to take it all in. She seems very intelligent and very observant. She also seems to actually RELAX a little as she looks around the room—until I see her eyes light on the monitors on my desk. She stiffens—and not subtly. Well, so much for relaxing.

I ignore the reaction and pointedly take a seat at the table away from the door. I signal for her to sit opposite me—I signal with my eyes. It is another trick I have learned…eyes can be SUCH useful tools for things other than seeing with.

She does not disappoint and quickly sits down, keeping her things very close to her feet. I sit there wondering where her ACTUAL clothes are—these are clearly stock from the girl’s locker room. Her clothes must obviously be in there. We will have to gather them up—later; likely after child services gets here.

There is no doubt she is starving—literally; not in the pedestrian use of the word. She is so anorexic! And so young…I suspect maybe twelve. I sigh and ask, “Would you like something to drink? You look too young for coffee—how about some hot cocoa or tea?”

She actually blinks… I almost giggle—but that would not be becoming of a foreboding authority figure, now would it?

She nods—almost looking thankful…and with a longing, almost haunted look in her eye. She says, “Yes, Ma’am, some hot tea would be really nice. Could I maybe have some water, first, though. I…am not used to dancing, anymore…”

I kick myself—of course she is actually thirsty. Not only after dancing like that, but she is obviously very nervous, too. I think, “And here I am supposed to be an expert on looking after children…” I smile and nod. I wordlessly go to the refrigerator and take out a bottle of good clean water and hand it to her—there is no telling WHAT she has been drinking…out there... She slowly sips it while I put a tea pod into the Keurig. I am told this particular brand and type is decent. I wouldn’t know a decent tea from a hole in the wall…

I continue watching her from the corner of my eye. I had expected her to quickly drain the bottle but she paces herself. She DOES have discipline; I will give her that!

When the tea has finished brewing, I ask, “Do you take sugar or cream?” Again, I am no expert, but I know that some people do use cream; I expect her to want sugar.

She shakes her head and says, “No, Madame. Neither.”

Now that surprises me; not so much not wanting cream or sugar, but calling me ‘MADAME’. Again—she obviously has a deep connection to ballet… You don’t learn that respect for a dance mistress just anywhere anymore these days—nor, build that deep-seated connection and discipline. A lot of dance schools these days are more about ‘making it fun’, rather than working on the true fundamentals and discipline required to be a professional dancer. I pull myself out of my reverie and motion for her to come get the tea. I then start some coffee for myself; I am not a fan of Keurig pod-brewed coffee, but it is hot—and it is caffeine. The machine was a gift or I wouldn’t have it…

After I mask the unsavory flavor of the coffee with too much sugar and fill nearly half the cup with cream I heat in the microwave so I don’t wind up with iced-coffee, I clear my throat and say, “OK. First things, first. My name is Grace Levine and I am the headmistress here at the school.” I let that sink in a bit as I let my coffee cool—I got the cream really hot. I grimace after a sip and say, “I’m not a fan of ‘pod’ coffee—even cream and sugar can’t mask the…off…taste. I’m not much of a tea drinker, I’m afraid—so, I hope it’s better than…this…”

She smiles, obviously thinking something is funny and takes a careful sip. She says with seeming genuine gratitude, “It’s perfect, Madame Levine. Thank you.”

I sit and study her as I absent-mindedly hold my disgusting coffee. She is an enigma. I decide she is obviously talented and well-trained for her age—both in dance and in playing the violin. She is also obviously very distrustful and…disturbed—maybe that is not the right word.

I am torn about what to do with her. I need more information—and I need for her to relax some more to get that information. I say “You obviously are no stranger to the world of ballet. You dance very well. I will assume with proper stretching and warming up, you are even better, since you seem to be a bit…out of practice. The fact that you know to address me as ‘Madame’ also speaks volumes…”

She doesn’t respond—only continues to sip on her tea. But, she seems less…on edge. No less wary, though.

I continue, “So, let me get this straight. You’re not from NYC. Your name is Amadeus. You live on the streets. You are a boy. You have been trained in classical ballet—but you dance the female roles. You have also been trained to play classical music on a Stainer that you also happen to own—even though you live on the streets… Have I got it right, so far?”

She seems like she is on the fence now. A push in the right direction could lead to trust and useful information—a push in the wrong direction, well...not. She simply nods—obviously still on the fence.

I tap the table with my fingernails—a really bad habit I have when I am thinking; like rocking on my feet when I am standing. She doesn’t say anything—this is going nowhere. Finally, I ask, “OK. So, then where ARE you from—and where are your parents?”

She pales and waits so long to answer that I am not sure she is going to. I am about to chide her when she says in a quiet voice, “I am from San Francisco, Madame. My parents are…deceased.”

I close my eyes and bow my head. It is worse than I feared… I say a quick solemn prayer and look back up at her. I think of losing my own parents—it was terrible and I was MUCH older. I sincerely say, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Amadeus. When did they pass away?”

She clearly is reticent to answer; I am not sure why—other than it is too painful for her to talk about. I am sure child services will want her to talk to a psychiatrist. Finally, she says in a barely audible voice, “It will have been a year on Halloween.”

I gasp, in spite of myself. I think, “A whole year? That is HORRIBLE!” I pull myself together and say, “I see—nearly a year ago. And you have been on the streets since?” I want to rush over and hug her—make it all better.

She sighs and simply nods.

That is truly concerning… She will have to go into the system—I had hoped she was just a runaway. I think to myself, “Just with what I know, so far, she’ll never make it in the system… She is too…paranoid and distrustful. Of course, that is nothing new for kids in the system, I know…but, she is somehow…different; so frail-looking.”

I sigh and ask, “And where did they pass away? I am sorry if this raises bad memories, but I am afraid I need to know these details.”

She slowly shakes her head—obviously deep in thought or memories. She licks her parched and cracked lips and says in a decidedly respectful tone, “They passed away in San Francisco—a drunk driver hit their car coming home from a Halloween party, since that will obviously be your next question, Madame.” OK, I THINK she is being sincere with the tone…it certainly borders on smart-ass.

I close my eyes in terrified horror. I think, “SAN FRANCISCO? But…” I ask the obvious question, “So, how did you get to New York…?”

She seems caught up in her own horrendous memories, judging by the display of emotions playing across her face—none of which is remotely close to anything resembling joy—except maybe a bit at the end. I need to get her away from those thoughts. I decide to jolt her a bit and say, “Amadeus, don’t make me repeat my questions…”

She actually blanches, but responds immediately. Obviously someone has drilled that into her; that is the sign of a strict household that demands respect—or a very strict ballet mistress. She says, “I…well…I…TRAVELLED here…alone…”

I shake my head in horror; although, it is the answer I was unfortunately expecting. I say, “OK. We will save the details of that…journey…for later. Who knows you are here? More importantly, WHY are you here?”

She actually starts to tremble as she says, “No one knows where I am. That IS the purpose of coming here.” She seems genuinely terrified at this point.

I find myself having to physically hold myself in the chair to keep from hugging her. Child services would likely not approve if I did… I think, “That is all I need—some bogus child molestation charge. At least I am covered if I don’t really touch her.” This is all on camera; a necessary evil as headmistress of a school, anymore…

I sigh, then ponder her answer for a few minutes before I ask, “So you ran away to hide? But from what? Do tell—I really am trying to understand this.” I certainly still need more information if I am going to be able to help her avoid the bad side of child services.

She obviously is trying to come up with some trumped up cover story in her mind. I am not sure what she will say—or if I can trust her response. I am, however, blown away by her actual response, “Mama always told me to be wary of the authorities. When she and Father were…killed…I knew they would be coming after me—the authorities, I mean. I figured they would take me someplace I didn’t want to go…take my things away from me…”

I sigh at the answer. It shows either a profound immaturity, a profound paranoia, or a prior knowledge of the system—or any combination of the above. I study her for a minute and, once again, estimate her to be twelve, maybe thirteen, tops. I decide to find out and ask, “Amadeus, how old are you?”

She gives me a strange look—I am not sure how to interpret it—and says, “Nearly fifteen.”

“Fifteen,” I think, totally shocked, “I would NEVER have guessed that. Her anorexia is worse than I thought…it must have affected her growth—or maybe she is just genetically tiny... Either way, I guess I better get the rest of the information I need. Maybe I CAN help her…” I ask, “And your full name?”

Her face takes on that distrustful look again—I am afraid I have lost her. Finally, she says, “Amadeus Irina Schlosser.”

I look at her intensely, wondering if I had heard right, Amadeus Irina Schlosser? IRINA? Now that is strange and something to certainly look into—later. First I am going to have to do the dirty deed. I have procrastinated too long as it is.

I say in a sad tone, “You know I have to contact the authorities, now, right?”

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Author’s Note:
 
I truly appreciate the feedback and response to the first chapter of the story, both openly and privately! It has certainly exceeded my expectations and I hope I can continue to keep the story interesting as my part of the bargain. 

I want to acknowledge for this and future chapters that *I* have basically NO knowledge of violins or of how to actually play them. Anam Chara has graciously offered up a treasure trove of expert advice and information that I will be employing. I am sure Anam will keep me honest as I continue along (so don’t be surprised if I have to edit a thing, or two)!

As always, if you continue to enjoy this story, PLEASE remember to still hit the ‘Thumbs Up button. THAT is how I will continue to gauge interest. Comments are, as always, also welcome, but, again, as always, please keep them constructive!



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