SEVENTH CHAIR

Raven Winter

            Silence reigned in the room usually filled with music.

            Only four students and the band director remained as students started exiting the room, muttering "good luck".

            There were three girls and one boy, two violinists and two violists. Not exactly the crème de la crème they were, but the two violinists were the orchestra's future concertmistress and assistant concertmistress. The other two were just, well, just violists.

            The boy, who was crazily prancing about and chasing a violinist, was the treasured first chair first trumpet of the school's band. The other violist was silently sitting on her chair fingering notes. She was no musical prodigy, she was merely the over competitive brain who wanted to excel at everything.

            The two violinists were to sight-read a piece to break a tie. Both did well, though the last chair of the first violin section emerged victorious.

            The violist who was sitting quietly fingering notes sighed as the band director explained the rules. The other violist merely rolled his eyes, commenting, "I'm nervous, but I've done this so many times."

            The band director chuckled, remembering his unbreakable tie with the previous first chair first trumpet.

            The girl smiled wanly, her face flushed of all color.

            He took the sheet music to the instrument room, prancing about in his usual manner. The girl languidly followed suit.

            He went out and took in a chair. The girl was furiously praying to Fate, telling her not to provide any distractions.

            He smiled at her as he set the chair down to face the stand. "You want to go first?"

            The girl shook her head gently, entranced by his smile, laced by orthodontic equipment.

            Soon, his brown bloodshot eyes drew her in yet again. They were shining with happiness.

            Her dreamy grin turned into anger and determination. How dare he think he would win!

            Most held no qualms about it, they were certain that the shining musical prodigy that is the smiling boy in front of her would win this petty duel. Though they dared not say it in her presence, they all knew. What chance does she have against first chair first trumpet, an already accomplished musician whose sister played the viola? He should, and did know more and thus play better, right?

            Tears of confusion attempted to burst from the girl's eyes as he played a section of Pachelbel's Canon, so perfectly, so beautifully, although somewhat aggressively. What was she to do? She loved him, and would do anything for him, but she was set on keeping her chair.

            As he finished, he stood up and smiled at her, motioning her to sit. She smiled thinly at him, trying not to look at those brown bloodshot eyes still shining with happiness and certainty. And yet again, anger set in. How dare he hope she screws up!

            Hyperventilating, she shakily drew the bow across the D string, gaining more confidence as she continued, her fingers moving at their own will. She lost herself in the black dots of the sheet music, attempting to ignore his piercing stare.

            Soon she finished, a dismayed look in her face. She has not done well.

            He sat on the chair, studying the next piece. The band director, who could not see them and thus could not tell who was playing, motioned the previous first player to begin.

            She was lost in him again, him and his perfection. His playing had a slight edge to it, but it was better than her scratches on the string.

            He finished, smiled, and she sat on the chair, biting her lip.

            More confidently this time she started, almost missing the crescendo, but made up for it with the forte, paying closer attention to dynamics as she plucked the last note.

            She breathed with a sigh of relief as the whole stressing ordeal was over. And yet her heart beat faster than ever as the band director called them both out.

            "You both played very well, it was almost a tie, no wrong notes or anything." She said to them, motioning them to come closer. "Look at the notes that I have made."

            They both looked at the notes she had scrawled on pad paper.

            "It is all going to have to come down to style." She stated, while the girl sighed. Style? She had no style.

            "On the first piece," the band director explained, "the first player did well, although he or she had taken on a rather aggressive style. The second player did very well, with the rather muted mezzo-forte. On the second piece, both did well. The first player did exceptionally well with the crescendo, I loved it! The second player's dynamics were great!"

            She paused. "Since the second player's style with Canon was much more appropriate for a mezzo-forte, he or she wins this challenge. Who is the second player?"

            The boy displayed a somewhat muted grin as he muttered, "She is."

            And yet again she was drawn to his eyes, now lacking the sparkle it once had.

            "What have I done?" She muttered to herself, trying to tear apart the mental image of his brown bloodshot eyes robbed of its sparkle.