CHAPTER ONE (PART TWO)
The food court at the university was quiet. Violet supposed it was because it was a Friday evening. Most of the people who went to the university Violet’s mother taught at were already at their apartments or at home, celebrating another triumphant week of surviving college. Of course, she didn’t understand what college was all about or why students even went there in the first place. To her, college was just college and nothing more.
There weren’t very many options at the food court of the cafeteria, at least not for someone whose mother was extremely health conscious. There were several fast food restaurant chains offering express menus but there wasn’t much that Violet’s mother would let her eat. Save for one. A salad bar. Violet’s young stomach wanted something fattier, like the burger place, but her mother, of course, wouldn’t hear any of it.
“You have to grow strong and healthy and not bog your stomach down with junk.” She shook her head. “You know how I feel about all of that.”
“Yeah I know.”
“Then don’t ask.” She was laughing as she pat her daughter’s head.
The scent of French fries teased at Violet’s nose again. The smell was tantalizing, but ignoring the stomach rumbling, she walked to the salad bar with her mother. Unappetizing. Everything was atrocious. Grimacing, Violet’s shoulders slumped as she held on to her tray, digging into the romaine lettuce with the black prongs.
“Delicious, delicious,” Violet’s mother sang. “Don’t you think that it would be great if you could put some olives on that?”
Violet shivered. Olives — nasty. Fries — good. “No. I want fries.”
“Fries aren’t healthy. We’ve been over this so many times.”
“I know,” Violet said, sighing. “But I want them.”
They were checking out now that Violet had put all of the toppings in her bowl. At the moment that Violet’s mother had paid for their food, the speakers began playing piano music. Like being transported into another world, the music danced before her. No longer were the flourescent lights of the food court beating down on her, but some kind of magical light. Her heart raced as the music increased in intensity. Violet ddn’t even realize that she was now sitting at the table in front of her mother, but to her chagrin, she was brought back to her reality when her mother waved her hand.
“What?” Violet asked, her eyes wide as she looked at her mother.
“You’re not paying attention. You remember we needed to continue our discussion about the book you’re supposed to be reading.”
“Oh…” Violet’s shoulders slumped.
Fifth grade sucks. I wish I was in college. Look at all these people. They look like grown ups. I really want to be one.
The music was still playing over the speakers. Violet looked up and pretended that she too was a pianist. It was the only way she could imagine herself like that Alexander Kafka boy, who played better than anyone one else she had ever heard. The only talented person in her fifth grade music appreciation class was James — and all he could play was Simple Things.
“Who was your favorite character?”
Did I really read the book all that well? Violet thought, digging her fork into the salad bowl.
“Um, Charles Wallace I suppose.”
“Why Charles Wallace and not Meg?”
Wait, who is Meg again? Isn’t she the main character… Yeah I should have mentioned her… Not Charles Wallace.
Violet’s mind was still muddled by the music. The dulcet sound of the piano faded until it was nothing.
“The music’s over,” Violet said, pouting.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I meant to say Meg. I’m sorry. I like her ‘cause she’s like me. I get her. I don’t get Charles Wallace. I dunno why I even mentioned his name.”
The conversation continued on the book, but Violet’s heart wasn’t in it and it wouldn’t be for the duration of their talk. She still couldn’t get her mind off of earlier that evening. The way the music sounded — it touched her soul. Even though she was ten years old, she felt that she was beginning to have some kind of understanding of music. As if she was meant to go in the auditorium.
Though the conversation had stopped, Violet looked at her mother. There was something in her eyes she couldn’t read. Violet knew she was too young to understand why her mother was looking at her, her eyes narrow and almost curious.
“I’ll write the essay tonight while you’re teaching and I’ll finish it.”
That way I can probably listen to piano music… But how? How can I?
“Is there any way we can listen to music on the radio when we’re going back home?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “What kind of music did you want to listen to, Vi?”
Mom will definitely laugh at me for saying this.
Violet was right. Her mother did laugh.
“Classical? But why? I didn’t think you would like that kind of music.”
Violet half-smiled, twiddling with the salad on her plate. “I don’t know… I guess I might want to listen to it on the way home.”
“I suppose going in that music hall did you a favor then, huh? I tried listening to classical music when I was pregnant with you, but it just bored me to tears… It doesn’t bore you?”
How can it? What I saw today from Alexander Kafka’s playing? I want that. I want to go back to my magical world.
“I guess not.”
Violet’s mother found the classical station while they were on their way back home. She didn’t know what it was, or even what the featured instruments were, but Violet felt her eyelids slowly droop until they were completely shut. Was she in her world again?
She opened her eyes to her standing in a field, the sunlight shining down on her pale skin. She was dancing as the trees whispered and rustled with the rhythm of the wind. There was a small barn in the distance. Another boy running toward the same direction. The sun was brighter as the music in her soul increased in intensity. The grass was becoming more and more green.
“Wait for me!” she said.
The boy who was running turned around and narrowed his eyes, but after a moment, he smiled and extended his hand. She took her hand in his and they both began running.
Her eyelids were heavy as she felt a hand touch her shoulder.
“Violet, we’re home.”
She opened her eyes. “Home?”
“Yeah, you fell asleep. Go put your Pj’s on and go to sleep. You have a long day tomorow.”
Stumbling out of the car, she held on to her mother for support. What did she just dream about? Everything seemed so real, so vivid. So true. Wishing that she could see the images just one more time, she closed her eyes, but there was nothing. She found herself wondering when it would happen again.
And she wanted nothing more than for it to happen again.
A few months later
The music store. Violet had been persuading her mother to take her to Barenheim’s for what felt like months on end. Now it was Violet’s turn to finally play on a piano. As soon as they walked in, the smell of music danced in the room.
“Look at this one, Mommy!” she said, tugging her mother towards the glossy black grand piano. “It’s so beautiful. It reminds me of the one he was playing…”
“Who’s he?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Oh you know,” Violet said, gliding her small hands across the white keys. “The one who played in the auditorium a few months ago… Alexander Kafka. I dunno who he is, but he was the one I heard playing that night.”
“Ah,” she said, nodding her head. “I see who you’re talking about now. You’ve only been talking about him for months.”
Violet was no longer paying attention to a word her mother was saying. She was sitting at the piano bench, and fiddling around with the white keys, occasionally reaching for a black key. She didn’t know what she was playing, or even if it sounded good at all. Not being able to deny the intense rush that was coursing through her veins, the young girl continued to play and allowed herself to get completely lost in the music. In her mind, she was another Alexander Kafka on the stage, in front of a crowd of thousands that were eagerly waiting for her to play the next notes and continue on making magic that enchanted them to their very cores.
“Violet,” her mother whispered. “You’re disturbing other people. Stop banging on those keys.”
“What?” she asked, looking up, momentarily confused. Why did her mother stop her from playing?
“You sound terrible. Everyone’s looking at you.”
She frowned. Sometimes her mother was harsher.
“Gee, thanks.” She got up from the bench and walked away, folding her arms across her chest and walking away from her mother.
“Vi, I’m sorry. You know I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
A tear escaped Violet’s eyes and trickled down her cheek.
“Is everything okay?”
It was the man who was tending to the front desk. He looked at Violet with soft eyes and a smile.
Violet looked up at him, sniffled and said, “Yes, sir. Everything is fine.”
“I heard you playing piano. You were having fun, weren’t you?”
Violet giggled as she smiled. “Yes, sir. I was.”
“Let me know if you need anything, okay?” He said. Shortly after he walked away.
Fast piano music ensued shortly after their conversation. It wasn’t like the music she had heard a few months previous, but it was almost just as good. The music made Violet frown and look at the person playing with narrowed eyes. She had enough of all of this.
“Mom,” she said, walking up to her and tugging her shirt.
“I’ve had enough of this. I want to be as good as the playing piano over there. I want to take piano lessons.”
Her mother arched an eyebrow and shook her head, "I don't think that's a good idea... Violet, I'm not sure if you really have the potential to play piano like that guy over there..."
Piano lessons were what Violet wanted more than anything she had ever wanted before in her life. She was determined to be just as good, if not better, than Alexander Kafka.
"I don't care what you think. I'm going to do it. Please sign me up for lessons!"
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