Better and Best

She glanced at the clock, 3 a.m.

Fingers finishing the final keystrokes

The paper was good, she thought

But was it good enough?

She printed out a copy,

And shut the computer down.

Crawled into bed exhausted,

And fell into a restless sleep.

Turned the paper in the next day,

Dark circles under her eyes hidden by make-up

Got it back with a red 94 on top

Teacher said she needed to make it more personal

She forced a smile and said, "Sure, no problem,

"It wasn't my best. I'll do better." > > > > > > >

Picked up her instrument, went to Orchestra.

Conductor said he was bringing someone in to help,

After rehearsal, he wanted her to give him her music

And get copies of the second part, rather than the first.

"The last piece is hard," he said. "She offered to help."

Then why not just the last piece and let me keep the others!

Can't I just keep my favorite? Didn't I do that well enough?

I've worked so hard on them; you didn't give me a chance!

And why are you doing this so close to the concert?

I have no time to learn a whole new set of parts!

Don't you remember I'm still in high school?

She wanted to scream at him, the unfairness of it all.

But instead she forced a smile, "Sure, no problem."

It wasn't my best. I have to do better. > > > > > > >

Woke up early that Sunday, went to Youth Symphony,

Got results from last week's chair auditions.

She's Principal again, and yet she's not. She's hurt & confused.

Why is she 1st on two songs, and 2nd on the other two?

Her partner is happy, why shouldn't she be?

The partner must have been good enough…

With bassoons in both ears she can't hear the clarinets

It's weird and she keeps messing up her counting.

It's hard to see the conductor in her new spot too.

"I hope everyone understands," The conductor says.

"I'm just exploring something new."

But she knows the truth; she's not good enough.

"Sure, no problem." She thinks with a forced smile.

But she didn't do her best. She has to do better. > > > > > > >

She sees her friend walk down the hall

She doesn't even need to see her friend's eyes,

She knows immediately something's wrong and

Follows without thought, without invitation.

The friend rants angrily for over an hour

About her parents, teachers, friends, her boyfriend

She listens calmly, expressing understanding

The anger gives way to tears, broken sobbing

She gathers the friend in her arms, her heart heavy

Burying her friend in the shelter of her shoulder

Trying so hard to find words of comfort, to no avail

The friend finally chokes, thanks her and walks away

"Sure, no problem." She whispers with a forced smile.

That wasn't enough, not her best. She must do better. > > > > > > >

Momma screams at Daddy down deep in the house

The woman's scorned, hell will soon freeze over.

Nothing anyone does is ever right or good enough

They do too much, not enough, or none at all.

Irresponsible, lazy, selfish, stupid & worthless

That's all they are, certainly nothing more to her

Nothing more than trouble, such pathetic failures

She's locked in her room, but not safe. She hears her.

Knows the fire in her eyes, feels the sting of her words

She's not guilty, but she goes out to try to make amends.

Gets slapped across the face for nothing, falls to the floor.

"I'm sorry, I was wrong." Surrendered her rights (to what?).

"Sure, no problem." Head down, forced a smile.

It wasn't my best. I have got to do better. > > > > > > >

Brother yells at her parents in the next room

Blaming them for all his problems

"Goddamn you! Leave me alone!

"Get off my fucking case!

"I hate your shitty guts!

"I hope you both rot in hell!

"I'll fucking kill you myself!"

Threatens to get his shotgun from the closet

Closes her eyes, trembling from the other side of the door

Prays to God to keep them safe, keep her safe

It was supposed to be her job, she always knew

Her job to keep them together, to keep them happy

"Sure, no problem." Vowed to fix it, forced a smile

Because it wasn't her best. She just had to do better. > > > > > > >

Grabbed her purse, walked in and locked the door

Sat down on the floor of the bathroom, hard

She ignored the mirror and pushed back tears,

Heard the voices, haunted by the horrid thoughts

"Irresponsible, immature, trouble, fat, stupid,

"Failure, worthless, pathetic, helpless, crazy!"

Slammed her head into the wall & held the blade to skin

She dragged the blade pointedly through tissue

More, more, harder, harder, again, again!!!

The anger rose and faded along with the fears

Surrounded by a large puddle of bright red blood

Arms covered in deep cuts, she became dizzy & weak.

Forced a smile "Sure, no problem," she said to the world

"But I can do better, here's my best." & cried her last red tears. > > > > > > >