Today

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2009

Cole Miller

Today was the big day. I was afraid it would go horribly wrong. I woke up today with that feeling you always get before something big. I ate breakfast in a hurried fashion. I always ate a slow and controlled breakfast. Today was different. Today was the day of the concert. I had eggs and bacon today. That was our family’s traditional Friday breakfast. I shoveled each bite in with such force that I could have scared my dentist. I thought I was doing everything fast, but I almost missed the bus! I stared at my beautiful instrument for almost fifteen minutes, thinking intently. I play the cello, the large instrument that everybody misspells. I couldn’t take my mind off the performance—the hum of the instrument, the squeaking of the wood, and the beautiful sound that flows out when a bow slides across the strings.

On the bus today, I talked to no one. There was a kind of tension between me and the school only a mile away. The gymnasium was just waiting for me to arrive, to take my seat in front of the whole school and do what I love to do. I had been playing the cello for almost two years when I was asked by the principal to play. I remembered that day well. School had just finished for the day, and already the warm summer breeze was gone. Gone were the days of swimming and playing, gone were the days of sunshine and beaches, gone were those juicy, orange peaches that I adored so much. It seemed that just as soon as summer started, it was over. I was sitting on the street corner, waiting for the bus to arrive. The autumn leaves swept by my face, and I was reminded of the baseballs, streaking past my face like comets. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up. It was the principal. She had short and curly white hair, dark brown eyes, and a smile that could spread joy across a crowd of people. She looked down on me and asked me the question that led me to many hours of stress and practicing. “Will you play?”

Today playing the cello

I stared at my beautiful instrument for almost fifteen minutes, thinking intently

I arrived at the gym at eight-fifteen, thirty minutes before the concert. We set up our stands and tuned our instruments. Nobody spoke. The tension between us all was greater than iron chains, coiled around an object firmly. This was not a time for joking, laughing, or talking. This was a time of music. Five minutes later, the doors opened and our music instructor walked in. He was wearing a tuxedo, but you could see it was done by trembling hands because the tie was lopsided and uneven. He walked over to the piano and took his seat. I was reminded of the times when I took my seat in the sand, resting at a summery beach. This was nothing like that. We were inside a large, dark, and enclosed room that had a sense of urgency. We all took our seats and looked around each other. We were all ready.

Then, fifteen minutes later, the whole school filed in. It suddenly dawned on me the amount of people we were performing in front of. I tried to push it back into the depths of my mind, but it kept resurfacing like a disease that wouldn’t go away. I took some deep breaths, but it didn’t help. The students took their places in the seats, and all eyes turned to the performers. The lights flashed onto our stage, but they weren’t needed. We placed our bows in the position and started to play. The five minutes that the group of musicians spent playing were ones I will never forget. The sound was so sweet it was almost as nourishing as a peach. The lights felt like the rays of sunshine. And the noise was the soft splashing of the waves. But this was different. This was better. The stress released felt as good as succeeding in a goal. And only one feeling was felt through the performers, pure joy. It finished just as soon as it started, like summer. The applause that was heard thundered through campus like a stampede of animals, running after the hunt they all wished to claim. The crowd stood up and roared like a thousand warriors after the death of the enemy.

Today was the big day. Today was better than summer. Today was not horribly wrong. Today I succeeded and that is better than I could have hoped for.

Today Cole Miller

Cole Miller, 11
San Rafael, California

Today Emma T. Capps

Emma T. Capps, 12
San Carlos, California

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