All to play for
Kayla fails her exam and does not get the job she wanted. She goes to visit her examiner who reveals some uncomfortable truths.
Monty, as my examiner told me he liked to be called, sent me an email.
“Can you imagine what Pluto felt like when they demoted it from planet status, to being just a moon? I’ll tell you what it felt. Nothing! Because nothing had changed, it was never any less than it had always been.”
Ha, ha, he should have become a psychologist. I get the message, but it stings. Am I really so shallow? Am I really so dependent on others’ perceptions? With a start I realise that I barely know. I’m so busy, running, running, always doing, busy, busy Kayla, and I rarely stop to just be. Who am I? I play music, I’m in 6th form, my friends are Rachel and Abby, I’m taking Music, History and Bio-chemistry A-levels….but who am I?
I am not a morning person. Ok, so that’s pretty easy, I know what I’m not.
Rachel gaped at me the next morning.
“Well, normally, at this time of day, you look like a train wreck! You look as if you’ve just about fallen out of bed and you’re usually gulping down some green substance like it’s poison, all whilst trying to simultaneously catch your breath and brush your hair. Yet today… what time did you get up?”
“7:15” I tried for casual nonchalance, but it came out more smugly and I couldn’t quite keep the corners of my lips from smirking.
“I thought you weren’t a morning person?”
“Maybe I am. I’ve never tried it before.” Rachel just stared.
In music, I kept my hand down the entire lesson and just listened to what was going on around me with a detached indifference. I discovered that I’m actually a pretty good listener, once I stop talking, it’s amazing how much everyone else has to offer.
Rachel and Abby cornered me before I went home.
“Ok, we know you’re into some sort of discovery, early life identity crisis, but seriously what is going on with you!”
I gave them a rundown of everything Monty had said to me.
Abby looked slightly mad when I had finished. I informed her of this fact, but she kept on looking at me with that stormy gaze and I began to squirm. Rachel looked mildly unimpressed but she didn’t comment.
Abby tried to say something but she just shook her head. “You are ridiculous,” she spluttered finally. “You know that you can play well, what does a stupid mark have to do with anything and why are you so hung up on what some random man, who seems crazy from all you’ve told me! If I didn’t know better I would say you’re just looking for compliments. Actually, you know what, “Monty” was right, you are dependent on what others say for your own self-perception. Grow up. And I’m sorry that you didn’t get the job you’ve been dreaming about all your life, but life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. You’re given the sheet music, play the right tune and make some beautiful music instead of pining after the song you really want to play and messing up the one you have. You only get one performance, just…I don’t know what to say, but why do you always have to get what you want!”
With that, Abby stormed out leaving me shell-shocked, soft spoken Abby who barely said a bad word about anyone, let alone to anyone. I turned to Rachel, “Rach, what was that about?”
Rachel glared at me, “It’s not all about you. Abby’s sister is ill, she collapsed three days ago and the doctors have no idea what’s wrong.”
“I had no idea, I -”
“No, you didn’t know and you expected everyone to be there for you without caring what was going on in anyone else’s life.”
Later that night, I made my way to the hospital to visit Abby and her sister. I had been so wrapped up in my own life and daily problems that I hadn’t even noticed when my best friend was in direst need. There is no point obsessing about the past, but I could fix the future. It was time to slow down and stop running, to take a deep breath and look at the scenery. I had thought I was running towards my future, but maybe I was just running from, it’s easier to bury yourself in work, than to do the real work and sort out my insecurities and selfishness. That ends now.
I had intended on giving a whole dramatic speech, totally Hollywood style, to Abby when I found her, but when I saw her, words failed me. I simply held out my arms and embraced her and we sat, silently. I was there for her, and the nod that Rachel gave me over Abby’s head, showed that for now, that was enough. Just being.
A week later, I walked into my next job interview with confidence, whether or not I got the job was irrelevant. The point is to try my best and play the notes on the Heavenly song sheet, note by note as directed by the Conductor.
Three months later, my teacher handed me an envelope with my results in.
“Are you going to open it? Go on, rip it open, you know you want to…” Abby teased.
“Nah, it’s ok.”
“I’ll check it when I get home. I doesn’t really matter what I got. Come, let’s go” Together we walked out of school for the last time ever, off into the sunset towards a glorious future. Fine, it was the middle of the day, we went on the tube not white steads and there was no dramatic, wistful music in the background. Still, there was everything to play for and I was looking forward.