You Have Exactly.

“You have exactly one hour,” Mother said as she walked back toward the living room.

“Oh, exactly?  Not 59 minutes?  Or 61?”

“Do you want me to smack you across the face?”  She never broke stride, even when she was threatening me.

I shuffled the music pages on top of the organ seeking out the piece I was to play this weekend.  I stared at it, each note blurring into the next.  I hate this piece.  Not because it’s difficult, because it isn’t.  I hate it because I’ve been playing it over and over for weeks.  First to learn it, then to perfect it, now to practice it endlessly for Sunday’s service.

If my kids ever express an interest in music, I will never treat them like this. I don’t care how good they are.

I remember the first time I played outside our home.  I was 3 years old and we were at our regular Sunday mass.  I snuck up to the organ when Mother and Father were talking to the organist.  I began to play the music that Miss Judy, the organist, had used earlier.  I had never played those songs before, and yet I hit every note just right.  Miss Judy came over to me and Mother followed, smiling her approval.

She should have been happy, she was the one who orchestrated the whole thing and told me to pretend it was my idea.

“Give her anything you want.  She can play it.  Right, Amelia?” Mother smiled at Miss Judy.

“Isn’t that right, Amelia?” Mother turned her glare towards me.

“Yes, Mother.”

Miss Judy handed me something else to play and I played that perfectly, too.

That was 10 years ago.  I haven’t missed a single day of practice since.  Mother wouldn’t stand for it.

“I don’t hear you yet,” Mother sang from behind me.  I could hear the ice clinking in her scotch.

I began to play.  Every note was spotless, my timing was impeccable, as always.  Mother only spoke to tell me to start again each time I played that last note.  I did as I was told.

When the timer buzzed that my hour was up, Mother released me.

“Go make yourself some dinner.  You have exactly 15 minutes.  You have much more work to do if you’re to be ready to perform next week.”
 
I’m submitting this work of fiction to the Yeah Write Speakeasy where we were given a first line and a photo prompt and sent on our way.  Please click through, read the other submissions and come back Thursday to vote for your favorites.

10 Responses to “You Have Exactly.”

  1. IASoupMama says:

    What is it about keyboard instruments and ice clinking in glasses? When I was a kid, my piano teacher would drink iced tea and her ice cubes would clink in the glass as I played. Drove me nuts!

  2. This brings back such crazy memories of my viola playing days…God I hated practicing so much.

  3. I played the clarinet and saxophone when I was younger and quit when I was 15. In the end I hated it, because it was not about the music, but about competition… so I can relate to this;)
    Nice work!

  4. Flood G. says:

    I guess we all think it’s gonna be fun until we have to put the actual work in to learn. Still, Amelia doesn’t seem exactly riveted by her own talent.

  5. Christie says:

    You nailed this. Really nailed it.

  6. So good Michelle! I took piano lessons but eventually quit b/c I hated to practice. Music has to be a passion, not something forced.

  7. Kianwi says:

    I always wanted to take piano lessons, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed all the practice.

    I’m so fascinated by people that have a natural talent for music…well, for anything, really. This is a great thing to explore in a character! Great job :)

  8. christina says:

    you have such a great way with playing with the readers emotions. i so love that about your writing.
    (i read this the other day but am just now getting around to comment, sorry.)

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