You'll Be Amazing
There was no greater feeling than to be sitting at the bench of a piano, fingers dancing over the black and white keys like water danced over the earth.
That was what Felicity Lucas believed as she swayed with the music, humming to the tune lightly under her breath. Her blonde bangs fell loose from behind her ear as she shifted, framing the calm and joyous smile she wore every time she let the music run up her hands and settle into her heart.
The vibrations tickled her skin; the tiny plunk of each key resounded in her ears. Alone, they were only vibrations and notes. Together, they were harmonies and melodies, flats and sharps, all composing the beautiful music her hands knew how to play by heart.
Felicity could have played this song with her eyes closed. Sometimes, she did, imagining that her grandfather was sitting at the bench with her, gently smiling with pride as she played his favorite song for him over and over again.
A few years ago, when her grandfather had passed, her fingers would have halted at the memory of him. Now, at eighteen, Felicity was able to keep playing. She only smiled sadly at the image of him, her heart yearning to see him one more time.
But he was alive in her memories, and in the keys of this piano that he had taught her to play. He was alive in her heart and soul. He was alive in the music that brought Felicity such joy as she stepped on one of the foot pedals and allowed the music to drown out everything else.
She could almost feel his hands atop hers, like he used to do when he was first teaching her. That had been when she was three and still much too young to actually reach the pedals so far beneath her feet.
Felicity recalled his gentle wrinkly hands with a smile. Her grandfather had been a soldier and a handyman, and yet with her, he was never anything but soft. She hoped that wherever he was right now, that he could hear her play this song.
Her fingers smoothed out over the keys, the notes slowly fading into silence as those thin fingers stilled and that familiar tune came to a close.
Felicity released a breath, her shoulders slumping in the newfound silence. That silence felt somewhat empty without the noise of those notes running through the air. It always did, no matter what song she finished playing.
The sudden light clapping only made Felicity jump slightly in her seat, reminding her to reach forward to cut the video recording on her laptop. It also reminded her that she wasn’t alone in the small music studio.
She flushed lightly, but smiled gently at the young woman who worked the front desk. “I didn’t know you were there,” Felicity admitted, closing her laptop gingerly, just as gingerly as she lowered the cover over the ivory piano keys.
The woman gave her a sheepish look. “Ah, sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude… I just came in to ask if you wanted to extend your time playing today.”
Felicity shook her head, rising from her position at the piano. She longed to stretch fully, but was very aware of the woman’s eyes on her. “I’m good for today, but thank you.” Her blonde ponytail shifted as she moved, gathering up her laptop and a few odd pages of sheet music she’d used to practice.
“You’re like really good,” the woman said, obviously impressed.
Felicity smiled warmly at the compliment, the smile belying the pang of anxiety that hit her. She’d been told that she was good before, but this was the first video she would be posting on YouTube. She hoped the rest of the internet would agree with this woman.
She hefted her laptop bag onto her shoulder, grunting slightly at the weight. “Thank you,” she answered kindly, her eyes straying to the piano now sitting silently behind her. “I don’t have a piano of my own at my home, so I’m happy that I can rent out time on this one here.” Felicity ran her hand lovingly over the sleek black wood. She would kill to have a beautiful instrument like this, but she knew that her parents didn’t even like her spending her own money coming to this studio to play.
The woman nodded in a chipper manner. “Well, that’s what we’re here for at Musicality. Renting out time on instruments for people to practice on,” she said with a shrug, spouting out the rehearsed line with ease.
Felicity nodded in acknowledgement, thanking the woman for her time and slipping out the door behind her. She recognized all of the workers at Musicality after two years of playing the piano here, although she walked out without being noticed thanks to the afternoon crowd.
Her blonde ponytail blew out behind her as she opened the front door, stepping aside to let two little girls inside with their harried-looking dad. The man was smiling though, even as he asked his daughters to play him something quiet today. He probably had a headache based on his expression.
Felicity found herself smiling somewhat sadly at the simple interaction. Her own father would never sound so soft, nor would he ever be so kind about her playing. Any approval he’d had for her skill died the moment her grandfather passed and life was suddenly about excelling and success and medical school and stress.
The piano was the only thing that made all those worries melt away.
Even the slight fall chill in the air couldn’t wipe the worry from Felicity’s mind as she grew closer to her home. She took a fortifying breath on her front porch, extending her key silently to let herself in. In the back of her mind, Felicity mused that she shouldn’t have to gather strength to enter her own home, but then again, it had been some time since this place felt comfortable to her.
The silence stretched around her when she entered. Only the click of the door sounded as she shut it behind her, soon accompanied by the scratching of pencil on paper.
Felicity frowned, the peace she’d felt while playing almost completely gone now. Only the sight of her little sister kept a kernel of it alive as she gripped her laptop bag tighter and met her father’s eyes first, then her sister’s. Melia, her sister, was frowning heavily down at her homework. She perked up right away when she saw Felicity enter, immediately trying to get up to abandon her homework.
Their father’s heavy hand on Melia’s shoulder pushed her back into her seat. “Homework,” he commanded sternly, crossing his arms behind her. He would already have been imposing with his tall frame, but behind the small Melia, their father looked even more intimidating.
Melia huffed unhappily, resting her chin on her palm. A lock of her blonde hair fell into her face. “I can do my homework better without you watching me,” she pouted. “This is extra stuff anyway! I don’t even have to do it.”
“It’s good to study hard. Then you can get into a good college, like your sister is working on now,” their father said surely. His words sounded more like a demand than a statement.
Felicity shifted her feet uncomfortably. She was indeed using her gap year to work on college applications, not that her heart was really into them. She would much rather spend all her time playing the piano. Of course, she didn’t dare say that to her father, not unless she wanted another three-hour lecture on why college was important and why Felicity definitely wanted to be a doctor.
Her eyes strayed to her sister, who looked like she would rather be anywhere than working on extra credit that she didn’t even need. Melia had always been the academically gifted one out of the two of them. That didn’t mean that she liked sitting under their father’s watchful gaze any more than Felicity had.
“I can help her look at that stuff,” Felicity offered, trying to give her sister a way out. “Besides, she’s only twelve. She doesn’t have to do all that extra stuff now.”
“Yeah, you heard Felicity!” Melia was quick to say, using her small frame to slip out of their father’s grasp and around the table. From the opposite side of the table, she gathered her books messily. “We’ll be back by dinner,” she said cheerfully, quickly grabbing Felicity’s hand to lead her up the stairs.
“Not so fast,” their mother interrupted, trotting in from the other room with her blonde hair bouncing. “Felicity, you’re helping me with dinner tonight.”
Felicity resisted the urge to sigh. “I need twenty minutes,” she requested respectfully. She didn’t bother complaining. It was part of her “deal” with her mother: live at home and don’t pay rent, but help with dinner and other chores around the house. Felicity wouldn’t have minded it if it wasn’t for her mother’s reasoning behind all the housework.
The woman nodded. “Twenty minutes,” she agreed. “This is important, Felicity. You need to know how to cook and clean properly for your husband when you marry.”
And there it was, that word that Felicity hated hearing: husband.
She curled in on herself uncomfortably, her shoulders hunching. Melia stood a step in front of her as if to protect her, but neither of them corrected their mother to the proper word: wife.
Felicity had learned years ago when she came out that being gay was not acceptable in this household. Being anything but the perfect daughter, wife, and doctor was unthinkable.
So, she chose not to answer any piece of her mother’s statement, from the husband to the gender role part. Felicity could only look at her mother, an intelligent, hard-working accountant, and wonder how such an independent woman could be happy cooking and cleaning and serving her husband. To each their own, but the mere thought of being someone’s glorified maid turned Felicity’s stomach.
Melia didn’t wait for anyone to speak. She only grabbed her hand, leading Felicity upstairs faster than either of their parents could protest. Felicity smiled despite herself. She may have felt uneasy in her parents’ presence, but Melia always knew how to calm the worries that ravaged her mind.
The younger blonde flopped down on Felicity’s bed, dropping her books in an undignified flourish. “It makes me mad how they treat you,” she said simply, pouting unhappily. “Even madder than it makes me to do all that extra nonsense dad has me do,” she complained.
Felicity offered her a sympathetic smile, taking a seat at her desk. “One way or another, I’ll be out of here next year. I’m sorry I can’t take you with me.” She really did feel bad about that. It worried her to think that Melia would be stuck alone in this house.
Melia shrugged at the same time that Felicity placed her laptop on the old brown wood of her desk. The younger girl went to sit at the bench to her keyboard.
“I’ll be fine here. I’m pretty tough, you know, but I’ll feel better when dad isn’t pushing you to go to school and mom isn’t trying to marry you off.” Melia scoffed. “The way she and dad talk, you’d think that you never even told them that you’re gay.”
That’s what it felt like most of the time. Felicity had come out a few years ago, and after days of screaming and tears, her parents decided to pretend that she’d never said anything at all. Only she and Melia ever talked about it.
Felicity leaned over to poke her sister on the forehead playfully. “It’s enough that you still treat me the same,” she said kindly, turning back to her desk.
She opened the laptop to the recording of her playing. She’d been teaching herself basic editing skills for weeks, but she’d still only learned enough to cut the clapping out of the end of her video. That would have to be enough for now.
Melia gave her a bright smile. “I’ll always be your biggest fan,” she said reassuringly. Her brown doe eyes strayed to Felicity’s open computer. An excited spark lit up her eyes. “Did you record again? Can I hear it?”
Felicity turned back to her ever-cheerful sister, an amused smile on her face. Instead of answering, she pressed the play button and leaned back in her chair as that old song filled the room almost too softly to be heard.
Melia didn’t speak until the ending notes rang out, her expression much more relaxed now. “I remember that song. It’s the one that grandad used to play with you.” She tilted her head as she thought. “He always loved it when you played for him. When he couldn’t play it anymore, he’d look at you like you gave him the world,” she said with a fond smile.
Felicity remembered. When her grandfather’s arthritis had made his fingers more or less unusable, there was so much he couldn’t do. Felicity couldn’t help with everything, but she had been able to play the song he loved the most. Even years later, after his piano was sold and she could only go to the studio to play his song, that memory still made her smile.
She pushed a piece of blonde hair behind her ear, smiling playfully. “Why do you think I know this song so well? I played it all the time just to get him to smile. Remember, Melly?”
Melia chuckled at Felicity’s nickname for her. “I remember,” she said, settling down. “I think grandad would be pretty honored that you chose his song to post first. You’re posting this one, right?” she asked, leaning forward to see Felicity log in to her brand-new YouTube channel.
FeelTheMusicFelicity. That was her channel name. Melia had thought of it, and since Felicity didn’t have any ideas herself, she just went with it.
She nodded at her sister’s question. “It’s this one,” she confirmed. “I’ve been practicing how to record and edit for a while, but I… I think I’m ready.” Felicity clenched her hands nervously as she clicked the upload button, leaning in to type a short description for the video.
Melia smiled widely. “Don’t worry, Felicity, it’ll be great. I’ll be sure to give you your first view and like,” she said cheerily, giving her two thumbs up.
“That might be the only one I get,” Felicity murmured sheepishly, her fingers flying over the keyboard only slightly more slowly than they moved over the piano.
“Nonsense,” her sister reassured her. Her blonde hair bounced as she leaned forward as if to make her point. “You’re the most talented piano player I know. I mean, I don’t know a lot of piano players, but I’m sure people will like it! I’ll share on Facebook and Twitter and everything too. And don’t worry; I won’t say I’m your sister or anything. You’ll need a certain anonymity as we build your brand.”
That got Felicity to laugh lightly. “My brand? Melly, I haven’t even posted the first video yet!”
Melia laughed along with her. “Well, I have complete faith that soon everyone will see how talented you are. Just like I do.” She gazed sincerely at her older sister.
Felicity looked over at her. She couldn’t express how much her sister’s words meant to her. After their grandfather had passed, Melia was the only one who supported Felicity wholeheartedly. She cried with Felicity when their father had sold their grandfather’s beautiful grand piano, and held her hand when Felicity admitted that she was gay.
For a twelve-year-old, Melia was definitely wise beyond her years.
Maybe she knew what she was talking about when it came to Felicity’s music then. Even if she didn’t, knowing that Felicity would always have at least one fan gave her the courage to make that first video public.
The second that it went online, Melia was watching it on her phone. “First view,” she said with a fist pump. With a click, she added, “And first like.” She smiled cheekily.
Felicity opened her arms to pull her sister to her chest for a hug, squeezing her lightly. “Pick out your favorite song and I’ll make it my next video,” she promised, pulling back.
Melia’s eyes practically lit up in excitement. “Really?”
She didn’t get a chance to pepper Felicity with questions as their mother called her down to help make dinner.
“I think your anonymity thing is a good idea by the way,” Felicity said with a nervous smile. She leaned forward to shut the computer. “Dad would probably snap my laptop in half if he saw that I was using it for this instead of college applications.”
As much as she wanted that to be an exaggeration, it wasn’t.
Melia knew that too as she nodded confidently. “I’m sure you’d be a great doctor, but I’m also sure that you don’t want to be a doctor,” she said wisely. “Dad can hate your music all he wants. You keep playing if it makes you happy and I’ll be sure to stay quiet.”
Felicity felt her heart grow in her chest. She took a breath in the moment she had before she would be forced to listen to her mother’s cooking lessons. In that moment, she allowed herself to smile.
Her video was online now. People could see it. That smile grew. Felicity covered it with her hand as if she didn’t want to risk even her sister seeing.
She’d done it; she’d finally done it! She was still nervous and scared, but she couldn’t stamp down the happiness that suffused her.
Melia smiled too. “You’ll be great, sis. I’m just a kid, but I know that you’ll be amazing.”