“Would you mind tagging along for an orchestra practice?” Leo asked, making Al let out a long sigh. They were both in the studio for their last period, and Al was trying to practice a composition while Leo was sorting out music sheets for the orchestra practice right after the last class for the day.
“I’m practicing with Kenneth today,” Al muttered, making Leo let out a sigh before looking over at the clock above.
It was nearing four in the evening.
“What about after your practice? You guys will be done by six PM, right?” Leo asked.
Al didn’t give him an answer, he just pressed a string of keys that released calm sharp music into the studio. There was silence right after the notes faded. It was later tinted when Al put on the CD player by him and began to hum to the composition playing. Leo took the action as a rejection and continued to sort out the sheet music in front of me.
“Before you stopped talking to me, I wanted you to play with the orchestra. You know, have a feel of what you’d like to do when you eventually graduated,” Leo started, the sound of him flipping the sheets, making Al turn his head towards where the bodies were coming from.
Al felt about the stool beside him until his fingers found the switch to put the CD player off.
“We’re graduating in six months. Isn’t that grand?” Leo laughed.
Al didn’t say anything to Leo, but Leo didn’t mind. He just let out a sigh before turning his eyes towards the wall clock above the studio’s entrance again. The was a few minutes to four, and that was when the day would come to an end. Four o’clock soon came by and the siren buzzed, resounding through the college’s building.
Leo got up soon after, gathering the music sheets he’d been arranging as well as his books. He looked over at Al who was still sitting down behind his piano.
“Is Esterphina coming to get you. Or, maybe Kenneth?” Leo asked, making Al shrug. The bronze-skinned man ran a hand through his long hair as he used the other to handle his brick Nokia phone that Leo had laughed at when they’d gone on a stroll in the park together.
“Yes, Ester is getting me,” he said, making Leo hum in response before he headed for the door.
Leo turned at the sound of Al calling his name. He found the man still behind his piano, but now gripping on to the brick phone he had in his hand with newfound force. Al opened his mouth, closing it again with a frown when nothing came out.
“Do you want to tell me sometime?” Leo asked, making Al nod sharply, his hair falling around his oval face.
“Yes... Can I still come and meet you in the orchestra practice?” he asked, making Leo’s confused frown turn into a bright smile.
“Of course, you’re always welcome there,” he said, watching as the corner of Al’s lips twitched a small smile.
“Goodbye then,” Leo said before opening the wooden door and walking out, and into the crowded hallway. He closed the studio’s door behind him before making his way through the crowd and down the staircase to the main entrance. The school orchestra’s hall was located in a whole different building, meaning Leo had to undergo a ten minutes walk to get there. When he did, he found two together orchestra members discussing at a corner of the hall. They both stopped talking when they spotted him, heading straight to their seats in the arrangement.
Leo smiled to himself. Things seemed like they’d be easier for him from that moment on.
“This is terrible,” Kenneth complained for the twentieth time in the past hour. Al frowned, running a hand through his hair as he tried again from the top by himself.
“That. That sounds amazing. Why does everything jumble up when I join in?”
“You haven’t played the piano in almost three years, relax.” Al shook his head, pausing midway into the composition to rest.
“You’re saying it’s my fault?”
“I’m saying that it’s been unnervingly obvious that it is from the beginning.”
The room went silent, and Alejandro tried to guess how Kenneth was reacting to his words from the pace of the breathing he could hear, and other low sighs he was letting out.
“Okay, I agree,” he said, surprising Al. “Now, how do we fix it?”
Al answered Kenneth immediately after, suggesting that they should practice other songs to get Kenneth familiar with the piano again. They worked on following each other’s pace. It was a bit pleasing and scary to Al that Kenneth was listening to him. The Kenneth from before would have tried to pin the blame on him and would have even started cussing at him. Al wasn’t sure who had changed him, or who was changing him, but right at that moment, he was indeed grateful.
“What time is it?” Al asked when they stopped playing for a break.
“About ten minutes past four. Why?” He asked. Al shrugged at his question, resting his chin on his hand as he let his index finger push again a piano key repeatedly. The note that was released filled the room, occupying the once near silent void.
“I want to go for Leo’s orchestra practice. Will we be done by six?”
“A little bit before, even.”
“That’s great,” Al said as his lips twitched into a smile. He heard the sound of Kenneth moving about the room, and almost jumped out of his stool when a note from his own piano rang through the room. It was then he noticed that Kenneth had somehow made his way beside him. The soft breathing mixed with the notes that were being played. Al could feel Kenneth playing, the vibrations from the piano running through his own hand.
“Was that good?” Kenneth asked, making Al snap out of his thoughts.
“Yes,” Al mumbled. “Very good actually.”
Al heard Kenneth hum in content, and soon he heard the piano from across the room play after the sound of footsteps. Al let himself listen for a while before he joined Kenneth to play in a more coordinated and balanced tone.
The hall was vibrating with music when Al and Kenneth walked in. Kenneth had his hand holding on to Al’s shoulder as they moved into the large hall. Leo could spot them from his position on the podium. He smiled as he watched them wander to a corner of the hall to sit down, almost losing focus on coordinating the students in front of him.
Leo continued to coordinate, as usual, grinning whenever he turned to spot Al smiling as he moved his head from side to side along to the piece being played.
“Good job everyone,” Leo said at the end of the practice, watching as the first year students packed up their instruments. A handful of them turned towards him when he said that, surprised.
After a while the hall emptied out, leaving behind the chairs that had been filled by the orchestra members in disarray. The sound of the brooms sweeping rung through the hall instead of music, since the cleaners had come in immediately after the students left and got to work.
“You came.” Leo smiled, as he got to where Al and Kenneth were sitting.
“Yes,” Al let out with a smile. “They sounded great.”
“It took a while,” Leo admitted, running a hand through his dirty blond hair before turning his gaze to Kenneth who was sitting beside Al and going through his phone.
“How was practice?” he asked, making Kenneth look up from his phone with a confused look. He was probably wondering why Leo was talking to him. His eyes went wide for a while before he put himself together and made to answer Leo.
“It was okay... Fine really,” Kenneth answered, making Leo nod before turning his gaze back to Al.
“Al, like I said before, I really want you to try playing with us in the orchestra. Do you think you can find time to discuss it with me?” Leo asked, making Al bite his bottom lip in thought.
“I should be able to.”
Leo smiled at Al’s words, catching the underlying excitement in them. Of course, it would be exciting for him. Playing in an orchestra was his dream.
“If you’re done smiling like fools, I’d like to know if I can leave,” Leo heard Kenneth say, making him turn to him. He noticed Al had also turned his head towards him as well.
“I’ll take Al to Esterphina’s practice hall,” Leo said, cutting Al off. The blind man frowned but he didn’t say anything in response to his words.
“Okay then,” Kenneth said, getting up from the wooden chair before stretching out his hands as he yawned. “Al, later I’d like to know how I can get your information. I’m guessing your sister will be helping, right?”
Al nodded, making Kenneth hum in content before pocketing his phone and heading for the hall’s exit. The sound of his steps blending in with the sound of brooms moving over the wooden floorboards.
When he was gone Leo looked over at Al whose head was turned towards the direction Kenneth had headed.
“He’s gone,” Leo said, taking the seat beside Al that Kenneth had abandoned. Al shrugged at his words, making Leo sigh.
“How was the practice? Did you guys get along?” Leo asked.
“Yes, I believe we did,” Al said, frowning a bit afterward.
“Why are you acting surprised?” Leo shook his head.
“Because I am?”
They both laughed, their voices ringing through the hall, and neither of them questioned the other when their hands found each other’s to hold.