disclaimer/warnings: Characters based on people I know; names changed.
Her name was Elise. She'd been playing since she was six, after her mother pushed her to take up an orchestral instrument. In the end, her mother had also picked the instrument, driven her to every lesson, been to every performance, and encouraged her every practice session.
"Elise! I don't hear a bow!"
"Mum!" squeaked the girl of eleven. "Mum, puh-lease? I'm tired, I don't wanna practice anymore!"
Her mother stormed into the room, arms folded as she stared down her arcane, pointed nose. Elise sat nervously at her desk, pencil in hand.
"And what is this?" her mother croned.
Elise dropped the pencil and stared up at the grey figure hovering over her, her fingers twiddling under the desk. "I was just... writing a note to Lauren for tomorrow."
"Mrs. Perry will be expecting that new piece for Thursday, and you won't be disappointing her. I want you on that violin until dinner time. After dinner, you can write whatever you want."
She gripped her head in frustration. "But, MOM! I hate it!"
Her mother's eyes had a way of widenening to inhuman proportions, and they did so now. "What?"
She firmed her resolve and repeated, "Mom, I hate it! I don't want to play the violin ever again!"
"Nonsense. Deep down you love it, and you'll rightly appreciate it someday." With that, the grey lady nonchalantly left to tidy in the kitchen. Elise was left alone, with no one for support but her albino gerbil.
Today her highschool was holding a special assembly in memory of a deceased faculty member. She hadn't known Mrs. Kealer well, but her friends were very distraught over the woman's passing.
Christina, a senior, had just finished her speech, and now it was time for Elise and Jess Sayer to perform the duet. As she rose she glanced sidelong at Jess and noticed the girl nodding in a "Good Luck!". Jess took her seat at the keyboard piano, flattening her skirt on her lap and doing all she could to avoid eye contact with the congregation. With a glimpse at her music sheet, her slender and disciplined hands took their place.
And the tune began.
Simple at first, only an introduction. The real magic began when Elise came in with her violin, meshing like syrup with the piano's light rappings. Her nerves were young and raw, her body heat rising to uncomfortable levels. But the heat could not stop the flow of her bow over the strings, her calloused left fingers one with the chords. The pain that arose from pressing against the nylon had long since dissipated, and now it was sheer pleasure to hear the harmonic sounds of her bow fill the auditorium, blending with the soft but sure taps of Jess on the piano beside her.
Elise could feel, with her musician's intuition, the whole mood of the room soften and float with their music. The notes rose, the music fleeting higher across eardrums through the auditorium. Her nerves still ate at her and Elise was starting to feel the walls close in on her, but she didn't care. Now was the time for music, she told her fear, and the fear obeyed and retreated with its tail between its legs into the shadows.
Higher, higher the symphony rose, the climax coming in a romantic company of chords and with a new rhythm from the piano.
After a minute of heart-wrenching minor key that stole the breaths of those in assmebly, the song finally wound down to a slow and soft finale. The bow made its final contribution before disappearing from all sound. Jess' gentle scale arose in its place and brought the music to a quiet end.
There was a break in sound, a silence that filled the ensuing void and magnified it through her mind and pulsing veins. She knew the music had done it; she knew the song had been felt so deeply in the hearts of her schoolmates as to render them silent. But the limbo between performance and response was always painful. Which way would their pendulums swing? Did they hate her song, or did it grace them?
Then, a clap, another, more hands coming together, and suddenly the whole auditorium was filled with a defeaning roar of appluase and whistling. Elise smiled, even laughed from embarassment, and the sweat on her brow turned cool and refreshing. The hot claws grasping her lungs melted away. Suddenly the work, the grueling practice, all the non-existant after-school activities and fun weekends with friends missed because of orchestra performances no one came to.... it all seemed to be OK in this moment. More than OK, it was made euphoric because of this grand ovation she received now. It was even more euphoric knowing that after the assembly all her friends would give her hugs and congratulations for her performance.
She often wondered what her younger life would have been like had she lived a normal life. But it didn't do her any good to think about it; right now she didn't want to. Her success as a violinist was enough to give her ample happiness for now.