"You really don't have to...I can just record the instrumental and sing to that."
"Nonsense! You'll have a real accompanist at the audition, therefore you need a real accompanist in rehearsal."
"But you'll be staying after hours..."
"Estelle, do you really think that I care about staying a little longer if it means I can help one of my best students?"
I had rewritten my sheet music to be even more organized and legible, and I had planned to stay in the music room during after-school hours to record the piano part and sing with it. However, when I had first entered the classroom, Mr. Kalypso had insisted upon helping me in whatever way he could.
"It's...an interesting topic...the one in the song I mean...you might not understand."
Why was I getting so nervous? I had been certain about this yesterday, but now I could feel the anxiety building up in my chest. I sat down, trying to steady my breathing.
"Estelle, you know I like everything that you write. And it isn't out of sympathy. It is because you have real talent."
"I'm just so afraid of getting in front of people. I hate being judged...especially for something this important to me. It could make or break my possession of the job that I have wanted for years! What if they don't..."
"Estelle...remember last year's chorus concert? When I gave you the solo?"
"Yes...I was scared out of my wits."
"You know I didn't give it because I knew it would scare you. I gave it to you because I knew you would not give it up no matter how difficult it is for you. The whole community knows that you have anxiety when it comes to performing. But you never let it stop you. You refuse to give it up...I know this is the first time you've ever written something personal that you plan to perform, but even though you really didn't want to do it, you went through with it. That's what makes you so endearing to the audience. Every single audience member who has talked to me has said that they know you are shy, but you let your love of music push you to do things that you wouldn't do otherwise."
"I haven't always been like that...I wasn't until high school."
"High school is the time where you should be getting more concerned about your lifelong career."
I shook my head.
"That wasn't my only motivator."
"Well, I know you and Nova have become very good friends since she began her public education here. It's a shame that she will be very busy with government duties once school is over for her, but I'm sure the two of you will continue to have a close bond throughout your lives."
"No, of course I know she won't completely forget about me. I was the first friend she made in public school. I am a little worried about our soon-to-be busy schedules, but it is what it is. Shall we get started?"
I really didn't want to even think about what would happen once our careers started. I didn't even know what Nova's future held at this point. Maybe she would be able to go to the surface and see stars. Maybe she would choose to stay down here part time. Or maybe she would allow people to go to the surface if it was safe and come back. The more I had thought about it, the more appealing the idea of a healthy surface seemed, but I couldn't help but worry that, even if we all could go to the surface, would other people in the government even consider allowing us to. If we were down here for no real threatening reason above, then the government officials would want to keep us down here regardless.
I was thrown out of my thoughts as the opening notes of my song were played on the piano. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and began to sing.
I hadn't focused on the flow of the lyrics themselves until this moment, simply because I had been forced to play and sing at the same time as I was composing the piece. The words fell from my mouth like drops of water from the fountain in the center of the town square. They made gentle ripples in the broken silence within the music classroom, and the piano notes played by Mr. Kalypso quickly became the stone base of the fountain that the water rushed on top of. I slowly began to realize that, although I was singing in front of someone who had never heard me sing solo other than pieces aside from me, let alone listen to anything I had written, lyrical or instrumental, and yet, I was okay with it. Not just that, but I felt contented and soothed by the gentle flow of the song, the transition into the chorus, the bridge, the instrumental that I allowed to make me feel lighter than air and take me on an imaginary journey through galaxies. I finished the last verse, holding the final note and opening my eyes.
Mr. Kalypso was looking at me as if he was trying to read my expression.
"That was beautiful, Estelle. I don't fully understand what constellations and stars are, but I can tell they're metaphorical to something in your life. Is that right?"
I nodded and smiled.
"That's exactly right."
"I can feel every bit of emotion you've put into this. If this doesn't get you into the music business, then I don't know what will."
"I sent in a sample of it before it was finished and the entertainment council said that they liked it so far."
"You're confident about this song...so why did you get so anxious earlier?"
"Well...there's going to be someone in the audience who might not like everything that's in the song. Come to think of it there are at least two people who might not like it."
"Well, I seriously doubt that the disagreement of two people who are not on the entertainment council will affect their judgement on your overall skill in keeping an audience interested."
"No...I don't think so."
But I actually did think so, because the two people that I was thinking of...
...were Nova and her father.