For the entire first semester, no matter how busy I was, I always came early to have the whole band room to myself. So when winter break ended, I thought I could look forward to my usual solitude. I headed to the band room with a bounce in my stride. I loved listening to the melodious notes float around the empty room. But when I sat my violin case down to open the door, I heard the most horrible noise. Someone was banging away on the school's drum set. Whoever it was, was good, but I hated the flat sound of the snare drum and the harsh sound of the hi-hat. I left my violin in the instrument closet outside the band room and angrily flung open the door. The girl at the set had her eyes closed and was completely engrossed in the music. Her brown hair bounced slightly behind her black bandana as her sticks flew to some internal rhythm. I winced inwardly at the black Zildjan t-shirt she wore and approached the stranger.
"Excuse me." I said. The girl apparently couldn't hear me over the racket she was making.
"EXCUSE ME!" I said louder. Without stopping her beat the stranger opened her eyes and looked up at me curiously. I studied her expression. Her chocolate eyes seemed to be filled with mischief and curiosity.
"COULD YOU STOP FOR A SECOND?" I asked loudly over her drum fill. She stopped, laid her sticks on the snare drum and turned her attention towards me.
"Thank you. Now, I guess you're new here so you didn't know, but I always have this room to myself in the morning." I said as kindly as I could.
"You must play violin." The girl said after a few moments.
"Pardon?" I said.
"You play violin right?" She asked as she picked up one of her drumsticks.
"Well yes, but I don't see how you know that." I replied indignantly.
"Instruments choose their owners, not the other way around," She replied as she absent mindedly twirled her stick, "violins tend to like people like you."
"People like me?" I asked as my anger rose.
"Yep." She said simply.
"Look it doesn't matter, all I really care about right now is having the use of this room." I said.
"Well I was here first." She pointed out.
"I know that." I said with exasperation, "I'm asking if you'd leave."
"You never actually asked though did you?" She grinned slyly.
"If I do will you go away?" I asked.
"Maybe…" She said absently.
"Will you let me have the use of this room?" I asked with a sigh.
"Ah, ah, you didn't say the magic word." The drummer girl replied.
"Please?" I asked through gritted teeth.
"Lighten up Strings." She said as she turned off the snare drum and stood up.
"Strings?" I asked.
"Well you didn't introduce yourself did you?" She asked slipping her drumsticks in her back pocket.
"No I suppose I didn't…" I admitted.
"Well, no worries." She grabbed her coat from off of the drum stool, "See you around Strings."
"Wait, who are you?" I called after her.
"Me?" She said flashing an evil smile by the band room door, "I'm the drummer."
I thought I'd have the band room all to myself. I'd hoped I would anyway. Getting used to a new drum set always takes some doing. I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised by my visit from the mysterious string player. Her cherry blonde hair and hazel eyes immediately screamed violin, not their color, but their expression. Something in me decided to be devilish and though she was madder than a hatter after the teasing I gave her, I couldn't help but be amused by her reaction.
I walked down the hallway and found my way to the admissions office. Each step brought the familiar click of my drumsticks in my back pocket and I smiled. I got my schedule and silently looked forward to orchestra later in the day.
Mr. Carlson tapped his baton on the music stand and everyone looked up.
"Okay everyone, we're going to have a new student today, she's not here yet but she's probably just a little lost. Regardless when she gets here I want you to give her a warm welcome." He said smiling. I frowned, knowing it would be the same annoying girl from the earlier. The door creaked open and a head poked in. It was her. She was wearing the same black bandana and the same silly grin.
"Sorry I'm late sir," she said, "I'm not used to the campus yet."
"It's alright Miss...?" Mr. Carlson searched his roster.
"Skimble." She said, "A.J. Skimble."
"Alright then Miss Skimble. Please make your way back to the percussion section." Carlson replied. A.J. grinned as she passed my seat and whispered,
"Hey Strings." I rolled my eyes and sighed with irritation. Lindsey, the second chair violin player, leaned over with concern.
"Strings? Is that some kind of nickname?" She whispered.
"I don't know, I ran into her earlier, she was using this room during my practice time. She called me that after I chased her out." I replied.
"Well I think she's a little weird if you ask me." Lindsey said perhaps a bit too loudly.
"No one asked you Miss Landshire." Mr. Carlson said from his podium. Lindsey blushed. The orchestra tuned and warmed up with a few scales. The rest of the class passed uneventfully, and I even managed to forget that A.J. was there, but after class I noticed that she didn't leave.
"Hey," I called hesitantly, "orchestra's over, you should leave before the band gets here."
"Why? I wouldn't want to miss my class now would I?" She replied with a sparkle in her eye.
"What?" I asked.
"I play in both Strings." A.J. replied.
"But the band has too many drummers as it is." I pointed out.
"Did I say I played drums in band?" A.J. asked.
"No…" I admitted.
"Alright then." She said grinning as she leaned against the back wall. I sighed and rolled my eyes as I walked towards the door.
"See you around Strings." She called after me. I whirled around.
"Would you stop calling me that!?" I said hotly.
"What would you rather me call you?" She asked innocently.
"My name." I said angrily.
"The one you never told me?" She asked. My mouth dropped open.
"It's Violet." I said softly.
"Nice name Strings." A.J. said. I glared.
"I told you my name," I said through gritted teeth, "so why do you keep calling me strings?" She shrugged and grinned.
"Should I start calling you drums?" I asked sarcastically.
"You can if you want. That doesn't mean I'll respond to it." A.J. said.
"But that's what you play." I said as I saw some of the band kids filing in.
"Maybe." She said grinning.
"Miss Hartford? Don't you have to be going to class?" Mr. Carlson asked from behind me.
"Sorry Sir, I'm just leaving." I walked through the door and angrily kicked the wall. An annoying drummer girl had invaded my once peaceful sanctuary.
I went to the band room and carefully took out my cornet. I checked its valves and gave it a once over. Finally I went back into the band room and began to warm up.
"Miss Skimble? What are you doing here, the band doesn't need another drummer." Mr. Carlson said as he saw me.
"I play lot's of instruments Sir. Drums are just my favorite." I replied.
"Well what all do you play?" he asked. I gestured towards the band members that had filled the room.
"All of them." I replied.
"Honestly now." He said with a scoff.
"I'm serious." I replied, "pick any instrument and I can play it."
"Joe? Joe come here." Carlson said to a flutist standing near by, "Do you mind if this young lady tried to play you're instrument?" He eyed me suspiciously and then shrugged. He handed his flute over. I sat down at his seat and looked at the music. Grinning I put the flute to my mouth and worked my way through the music in front of me.
"You sight read that?" Joe asked. I nodded. "Damn sir, keep this one." He said. Over the next few minutes Mr. Carlson had me work my way through each section in the band. After I finished in the low brass the conductor looked at me with bewilderment.
"Well I'll be…" He muttered softly. I grinned.
"Shouldn't we get started Sir?" I asked as I headed to my seat in the trumpet section.
"Yes, yes, of course but…how do you…" he began.
"How do I know how to play so many?" I finished for him, he nodded mutely, "I taught myself, learned from friends, picked it up where ever I could. I just…really love music is all." Shaking his head in disbelief Mr. Carlson made his way up to the podium to begin band.
I sat through chemistry anxiously. I still hadn't calmed down from the conversation I'd had with A.J. I just couldn't figure out what was wrong with that girl. After all I was one of the best musicians in the orchestra, who was she to talk to me the way she did? I knew that she'd be in the band room early again the next day, but I also knew, I'd be there first.
That morning, I was pleased to find that A.J. wasn't there. With a long sigh I carefully took my violin out of it's case and began tuning the strings. I closed my eyes and let my fingers wander where they pleased, creating my own melody. I heard the door creak open but I ignored it. I knew it would be A.J. and I hoped that if I ignored her maybe she wouldn't cause trouble. There were a few minutes of silence and then suddenly another violin joined in with my own, playing a harmony to my melody. I opened my eyes thinking that Lindsey had been the one to come in instead of A.J. but there standing a few feet away was the smart ass drummer cradling a violin against her cheek. I had half a mind to stop, but instead I smiled evilly and sped up. A.J. matched my pace and never took her eyes off of me. Infuriated I broke into a devilish tempo. She matched the pace and grinned. With a glint in her eye she took the tempo just a hair further daring me to keep up with her. Finally we ended the song. It wasn't until I set down my bow that I noticed the sweat forming on my forehead.
"Since when do you play violin?" I asked.
"Since always." A.J. said shrugging.
"But you play drums." I stated dumbly.
"So?" She asked. I couldn't think of how to answer that. She chuckled and put her violin back in its case.
"Why do you hate me?" I asked suddenly. She paused and then clicked her case shut.
"I hate you?" She asked cocking her head to one side.
"Well the way you've been treating me makes it seem like…" I began.
"Golden rule Strings." A.J. said smiling sadly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, most people take the rule as 'treat everybody nice.' I choose to see it as, 'this is how they're treating me so this must be how they want to be treated.'" She adjusted her bandana.
"So you're saying that you've been giving me a hard time because I've been mean to you?" I asked.
"Something like that." She said shouldering her case.
"Look it's not like I hate you or anything it's just…you're so damn annoying and cocky." I said with frustration.
"Remind you of anyone?" She asked grinning. I glared.
"You don't know me 'Drums'" I said darkly.
"Did I claim to?" She asked.
"GOD! You are so…" I searched for a word.
"Gorgeous?" She interrupted.
"Yes! I mean…what did you…" I stopped, confused by what she said. She laughed as she walked into the storage closet. I stood dumbly in the middle of the band room with my violin hanging lightly from my hand.
"It's cool Strings, I won't tell anyone." She said with a smirk as she reappeared in the room.
"Tell anyone what?" I asked suspiciously.
"That you think the new girl is hot." She chuckled and sat down at the drum set.
"I never said…" I stopped and sighed, "You know what? Fuck you. I don't care what you tell people, and I don't care if you want to use this room in the mornings. You aren't worth my time." She seemed to study my face for a few moments and then laughed.
"Well, well, you surprise me Strings. I had you pegged for a better fight." She smiled sadly.
"Excuse me?" I asked darkly.
"I just thought you'd be more…passionate about your music, it's clear now that I was wrong." A.J. leaned back on the drum stool and rested her back against the wall. She stretched and closed her eyes.
"Passionate about my music?" I repeated with confusion.
"Yep." She replied without opening her eyes, "You're still scared of it."
"Look I don't know who you think you are, or what kind of powers of perception you think you have, but music is one of the most important things in my life." I said feeling the tears well up in my eyes.
"Sure it is, right after everything else." She replied absently.
"You think you know everything don't you?" I asked feeling my voice shake. A.J. opened one eye and twitched her mouth up in a smile.
"So," She said challengingly, "prove me wrong."