Her father was still on her mind, even though it had been a few weeks since he got laid off from his teaching position at the university. Seeing him, sitting down at the coffee table, reading the newspaper with looks of sadness in his eyes, or even when he would look at Violet's mother with longing. Longing to do what she was doing again— teaching. Violet began thinking of ways to help her father out. Maybe the music store was looking for something part time. Even though it wouldn't have been what her father was hunting for, it would have been good for him to have at least something to do on top of bringing a little extra money to the household income.
She didn't know whether or not to tell her father her idea. He was always supportive of her own choices, but when it came to others offering ideas, he was a stubborn man. She knew it was going to be hard to get through to him, but she was determined to do it. She was going to talk to him about it, right at that very moment.
But then the phone rang and her father remained in a long conversation with someone from his old university. She didn't like the sound of his voice so she decided that it was best to keep quiet. Violet waved at her father who did the same in return as soon as he parked the car in front of Barenheim's.
Violet took a deep breath as she walked into the music store for her practice session. She was looking forward to recording, but the thought of it sent shivers up and down her spine. Remembering what Ms. Paulson said about keeping everything as crisp and professional as possible made it difficult to think about anything else but that. Inching forward, closer to the door where the practice was supposed to happen, the entire room seemed to spin, making it impossible to keep a proper balance. Violet that that she must have seemed like an idiot trying to open the door. This was the first time that she was ever doing anything of the sort and it was for something so important. Perhaps the most important thing of her life. She just had to drown out the voices of doubt that were floating at the surface of her mind. Drowning these horrid thoughts was going to be the best thing to do. It was the only way her practice was going to be a success — and instill in her the confidence she needed to press onward.
Just then, the door behind her opened. She turned around, noticing another student of Ms. Paulson, Henry Barnes, walking in, with the piano book in his hand. She glared as he walked with the confidence she desperately wanted to have. The way he held up his head high. She assumed that he wasn't nervous. Not in the least bit. He was auditioning for a conservatory in New York City as well, but she didn't remember which one he told her it was. Was it the same one she was going to apply to?
"Hey, Violet," Henry said, approaching her. "Are you using the studio today?" It seemed like he was frowning, his eyes were not necessarily looking directly at Violet.
"Yes, I was planning on using it."
"I was going to. My final recording is tomorrow."
"Is it for Gillman too?" she asked
Violet sighed. "I'll wait then. Mine isn't until Tuesday."
Violet nodded and walked away from Henry, bringing out her iPhone. She put it on Chopin's Revolutionary Etude and let the music take over her mind as she walked out of the recording studio and down the long hallway toward the stairs which led to the second level. She put her hand on the rail as she walked down. The combination of the rapidity of the music and the intensity made it feel like she was escaping from some unwanted fiend, but it got to the point in the music, where in her mind, she knew every note and every piece of rhythm.
She had studied the piece so long and so hard, that she made herself think as if she was actually performing it in front of a live audience of judges at Gillman. She reminded herself that thinking like this was good for her, with all the mental preparation for the major audition. The recording was only the first step, and if she succeeded in this, then it was straight to New York City she was going for her live audition.
The thought of auditioning in that sort of way made her heart freeze with fear, but she reminded herself, as Ms. Paulson had done several times before, that it was only an audition. Not the end of the world if she did not make it in, but Violet really did want to make it. She needed to prove to herself and ultimately, to her mother, who still had doubts about her going to Gillman, that she could do it. And that she would succeed. Thinking about success was bringing a fire within her soul.
It was a matter of time when Violet noticed that the music bulletin on the hallway wall of the second level had been filled with papers. She walked up to it, noticing that on the right-hand corner, was a picture of Alexander Kafka, live in a concert. It was to be hosted in Manhattan — at Carnegie Hall. She glared at the picture. She had always wanted to perform at Carnegie Hall, and of course, someone like him would have every opportunity to be able to do something of the sort. She saw the date on the poster. It was tonight at 7:30 PM. She looked at the clock on her phone. It was 3:00. She had four and a half hours to get there in time for the concert. There was a discount for high schoolers. To Violet's chagrin, the Chopin piece had come to an abrupt halt as it always did. About to replay the piece again, she was interrupted by a voice from behind her.
It was Ms. Paulson.
"Hey, Ms. Paulson," Violet said, waving at her. "I just saw this —"
"You saw the poster, huh? I thought you would. It's tonight. And luckily, I have tickets already."
Violet gasped. "You do?"
She smiled as she nodded her head, her brown curls bouncing against the sides of her face. "I was going to ask if you wanted to come with me tonight. I know it's last minute, but I was hoping that you would come."
"I really want to. But I have to call my mom." Violet knew that when she mentioned mom, that it was going to be a complete failure. There was no way that her mother was going to allow her to go to Manhattan with Ms. Paulson, even if they did live in New Rochelle, which was only about forty-five minutes away by way of the subway.
"Good!" She smiled. "Just call your mom and see if it would be alright."
Violet nodded and watched Ms. Paulson walk away for a moment. Touching the speed dial on her phone, she took a deep breath and prepared herself. It had been years since she last heard Alexander Kafka play and he was only thirteen years old. It was during a piano competition. She smiled to herself, thinking about how much she had learned in that span of seven years. She was only ten then — and now she was seventeen. Seventeen and ready to face the world and ready to take the next further steps with her music.
"Hello?" the voice on the other line asked.
"Hey, Mom. It's me."
"Why are you calling me on my office phone? I barely answered the phone. These things don't even have caller ID on them."
"I thought you would be in since you'd be in your office during the hours. Look, I'm here at the music studio and Ms. Paulson has tickets to a concert in Carnegie Hall. Alexander Kafka is playing tonight. It's a concert."
Her mother was quiet for a moment, perhaps thinking of what Violet had said. "And what time is this concert?"
"It's at 7:30 PM."
"That's not too bad. And you say that Ms. Paulson is the one bringing you there?"
"Then I don't see the problem in you going. I trust her and I do trust you. I hope you have a good time, alright? I'll see you when I get home. I love you."
"Love you too, Mom."
The other line hung up and the call ended, leaving alone with herself. She jumped up and down and clapped. She was going to a concert! The thought of it just sent her mind reeling into outer space. Maybe this would give her more inspiration for her own piano playing, give her a different perspective. After all, Alexander was a student of Gillman Conservatory. Was he still a student there? If he was, he must have been in his final year of school at least. But within moments, everything came crashing down on her. If Alexander was a student there, then what chance did she have of even getting in? She was nowhere near as good as him. But then she remembered what Ms. Paulson said about her potential. She was good enough and that she didn't need to compare herself to Alexander.
"So what's the verdict?" she asked.
"My mom said yes." Violet smiled. "I can't wait for tonight!"
They were on the subway now, headed to Manhattan. Violet looked around, noticing the typical people and how out of place she felt for a trip to Carnegie Hall. Luckily, Ms. Paulson and she were both the same size, and she had a dress sitting in her office closet. Even thought it was suitable for something like this place, Violet still felt strange in a dress that was not her own.
But someone's leg accidentally pressed against Violet's. She looked up and noticed the man standing against a pole.
"Sorry," he said. "A bit cramped."
As usual, Violet thought. This man acts as if he's never been on a subway before.
Looking around, there were people of all sorts on the subway. People of different cultures. Some people buried in their books or their phones. Some had their headphones on at full blast and even from where she was sitting compared to the other person, Violet could hear their heavy metal from their earbuds. It sounded almost like the loud sizzling of a frying pan that was being hammered at the same time. At that moment, Violet thought that it was a strange correlation, but nonetheless, it worked for her. Thinking about it, she'd seen the guy before. He would sometimes play guitar in the subway. He was one of those 'different' types of people. Someone Violet had talked to in the past. However, his taste in music was not hers. She was definitely what she considered a classical music aficionado of the romantic variety. Her obsession was Chopin, of course. The Revolutionary Etude was still playing over and over in her mind. She didn't mind the endless loop. After all, she was going to play it in her recorded audition.
"Are you excited about tonight?" Ms. Paulson asked, breaking the silence between them.
"Of course," Violet smoothed the skirt of her dress. "I'm really excited."
"Me too. And you just might get to meet Alexander tonight." She smiled and looked at Violet.
Violet's eyes widened. Was she going to meet him in person? Now that was something she wasn't expecting at all.ns 126.96.36.199da2