Outstanding Stories » Notes Turn Black

“Notes Turn Black” is one of the outstanding stories (senior) of the second biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Rashi Butolia, Delhi Public School, Surat, India.

Notes Turn Black

I walked onto the stage, my back straight, my chin held high and proud. Around me, chaos reigned free. My friends bustled around, bumping into each other, shouting orders or complaints. More than a few of them huddled in groups, trying to calm down the butterflies that were probably tying knots in their stomachs right now. I smiled, a little nostalgic. I remember when I used to get nervous before a big show. Now, I hardly even broke a sweat. After all, why should I worry about my performance? I never make mistakes.

I reached my piano, which was on the raised platform near the back of the stage. Its beautiful mahogany surface shone like a night sky with no stars. The keys, white and black, were set in a perfect row. The whole thing screamed majestic beauty and sophisticated charm.

Quietly, I slipped into my seat and looked around the hall. I may not be nervous, but my friends were. As a senior performer, I should try to calm them all down. I straightened my arms and took a deep breath. I started to play. The music flowed, as easily as a river, through the room. Everything went still. The only sound was perfect melody that I was playing. Most of my thoughts left me and the only thing on my mind was the song. The notes and their sound…

I was completely focused. As the song ended, I was greeted with a stunned silence. Everyone had turned to look at me, all of them wide-eyed and mouth rolling on the floor. Slowly, I smiled. My big, confident, I-am-the-queen-of-the-world smile. All around the room, people started clapping and cheering. My friends looked shocked but relieved and relaxed too. My smile grew wider. This was exactly what I had wanted, everyone to just relax and stop worrying for a moment. A show is something that everybody should enjoy. Not just the audience.

The lights turned purple. Alright, I thought. Almost time for me to start playing. Right now I just needed to focus on what everybody else was playing so that I would not miss my first beat. The violins were amazing, their music left me feel like I had just seen a baby smile for the first time. The flutes were perfection. Crisp and precise, every note played with a bounce. Not a single mistake was made. Not a single note, bar, sharp or otherwise played off-key.

Suddenly, the music stopped. Deep blue spotlight swept across the stage. It was time for my solo. Firm and sure, my fingers touched the keys once again, and music spilled out. Once more it swept across the hall, an elegant flowing blanket. It was perfect…almost a little too perfect. I should have known. Blankets can tear. It happened abruptly and it ruined everything. My fingers stumbled on the keys, my thumb jammed into the wrong note. I shut my eyes, shocked that this could have happened to me. I could feel myself blushing, the blood crawling into my face. My heart beat harder and more angrily, as if denying that I had ever even made a mistake.

Mistake. I had made a mistake. Usually, if you make a mistake while performing on stage, you should keep going. Cover it up. I just sat there, horrified, wishing that I could just dissolve into the air. Too late, I realized that I should start playing again. My music did not sound so great now. The beautiful blanket it had once been had turned into a pile of smelly, dirty rags. As soon as my solo part ended the rest of the orchestra started playing again, eager to make up for my mistake.

Once the spotlight had left me, I buried my face in my arms and let out a few silent tears. "That girl messed up pretty bad, did she not?” "If it had been up to me, I would have picked someone more reliable for that solo.” Nobody said it, but I knew they were all thinking it. I would never forget this show or how I feel right now. This was, without a doubt, the most embarrassing, the most humiliating moment of my entire life

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