William Chase sat in his voice lesson studio, absently playing mundane little pieces that he knew on his piano, waiting for the girl that wanted to be his new student to arrive.

In truth, Mr. Chase hated it when people auditioned to become a new student in his voice studio. He knew they all came to him because he was one of the most renowned voice teachers in the state of New York, but most of the people that desired to learn something about singing under his tutelage were just plain awful. He hadn't accepted a new student in over eighteen months - maybe even longer than that; he didn't even remember.

He didn't really even know why he'd indulged the timid voice that had called him two weeks previously, asking to please be considered for an audition. She certainly hadn't sounded like she'd wanted to be his student.

"What makes you think you're good enough to be a student in my studio?" he had demanded of the girl, who had sounded like she was no older than fifteen or sixteen. "What have you got that makes you stand out above the rest?"

"I - I don't know, sir," the girl had stammered in a barely audible voice, obviously taken aback by his response to her request. "I'm in the Women's Choir at school, and I've made the Regional Women's Choir every year since eighth grade."

Well, that had sounded impressive to Mr. Chase. He knew that girls had to be exceptionally good singers and work hard to get into a school Women's Choirs or Regional Women's Choir, as they weren't easy to make by any stretch. And she'd been doing it since eighth grade.

"Well, judging by your credentials, you don't sound like you'll disappoint me too badly. When would you like to audition?"

Mr. Chase's reflection on that phone call, along with his absent-minded playing, was interrupted by a rather timid knock at his studio door, which he could barely hear above the music notes issuing from the piano.

He stopped playing, sighed an annoyed sigh rather loudly without caring if the person at the door heard it, ran a hand through his jet-black hair, and cleared his throat. His least favorite part about his job was about to occur once again.

"Come in," he said, using his stern, authoritarian tone as he turned around on the piano bench and faced the still-closed door.

At his command, the door was opened, and a rather attractive-looking teenage girl stuck her head inside, looking around the studio for a moment before catching sight of him.

"Mr. Chase?" she asked quietly, her face and tone serious as she rather hesitantly took a step inside the studio, apparently wondering whether she should entirely come inside the studio or not.

"Yes," he confirmed. "You're the one who called me, aren't you?"

She nodded silently, pushing the door open a little further but still standing more outside the studio than in it.

They looked at each other for a long moment, and then he finally said, "Well, come on, girl. I haven't got all day, you know - I've got actual students to give lessons to later on today."

"Sorry, sir," she said softly, at last stepping inside and closing the door behind her.

"You're going to have to talk louder," he then said sternly. "I've got bad hearing at times, and your mumbling won't help any. You ought to know that I don't even consider accepting mumblers into my studio, because mumblers are the worst singers - they have absolutely no volume. So no mumbling!"

"Yes, sir," she replied about three times louder, looking surprised by his sternness and straightening herself slightly as she stepped even closer to where he was sitting. "I'm sorry."

"You ought to be. Now, let's get down to business, shall we? What are you going to sing to try and prove yourself a good enough singer to be my student?"

She cleared her throat and straightened herself a little more. "I'm going to sing Dark Waltz by Haley Westenra."

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "That's rather difficult to sing. Do you really think you can do that?"

For a moment, she was silent, but then she shrugged, and when she spoke again, she sounded rather uncertain of herself all of a sudden. "Yes."

At the sound of her abrupt anxiousness, he sighed softly and prepared to be quietly disappointed, feeling certain that if she wsn't confident in herself, he wasn't going to like what he heard come out of her mouth. "All right, then. Sing it."

She nodded, took a deep breath while closing her eyes for a brief moment, then opened her eyes again and started singing. He watched and listened with an intensity that he could tell terrified her.

We are the lucky ones -
We shine like a thousand suns
When all of the color runs together...

I'll keep you company
In one glorious harmony,
Waltzing with destiny forever...

Dance me into the night,
Underneath the full moon shining so bright...
Turning me into the light...

Time dancers whirling past,
I gaze through the looking glass
And feel just beyond my grasp is heaven...

Sacred geometry,
Where movement is poetry
Visions of you and me forever...

Dance me into the night,
Underneath the full moon shining so bright...
Turning me into the light...

Dance me into the night,
Underneath the full moon shining so bright...

Let the dark waltz begin
Oh, let me wheel - let me spin,
Let it take me again,
Turning me into the light...

She held out the last note, and then she was done. Apparently relieved to be done, she let out a soft sigh and looked at him anxiously for a moment, biting her lower lip.

When he simply continued to look at her without any comment or facial expression to show how he felt about her performance, she ventured timidly, "Well, sir, what... what did you think?"

It was difficult to admit it to her or even to himself, but it was the best performance he'd heard of Dark Waltz since the original had come out. She'd hit every high note perfectly, she had a beautiful vibrato, and she had good dynamics. This girl had something - she just needed a little more training and a lot more confidence.

"Well, I thought it was pretty good, considering your age." He paused thoughtfully for a moment. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen, sir. I'll be sixteen in November."

He nodded. "Well, with that said, I think you've got a lot of potential. You could most likely go on to be a singer, if you desired."

"Oh, sir, I'd love that!" she breathed, her eyes widening in apparent amazement. "That's my dream -"

"Now, don't get too excited," he interrupted, holding his hand up to stop her from continuing. "I said you could, not that you would. If I taught you, however, you'd have an even better chance of making your dream a reality."

Upon him saying this, he could see her bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet as she asked, her tone nervous and excited at the same time, "Oh, sir... does that mean that you'll teach me?"


Her whole body stiffened with excitement, and she clasped her hands together, exclaiming, "Oh, thank you so much, sir! What time would you like me to be here, how much do you charge -"

"I charge fifty dollars for an hour-long lesson, and I'm available for lessons on Wednesday afternoons starting at a quarter to six."

She looked a little downcast at hearing I charge fifty dollars for an hour-long lesson, but then she almost instantly brightened again and replied, "I can do that, sir. So I'll see you Wednesday?"

"Yes." He waved her away. "Now go."

"Thank you, sir," she replied gratefully, turning and starting to walk out of the studio.

As she was about to walk out the door and leave, a thought occurred to him, and he turned back towards where she was.

"Wait, girl."

She stopped just short of opening the door and turned back to him. "Yes, sir?"

"What's your name? I've forgotten it since we spoke on the phone."

"My name is Stacey - Stacey Burns."

He nodded. "Well, then, Stacey Burns, I'll see you on Wednesday. Don't be late, or I'll charge you extra for keeping me waiting!"

"I won't be late, sir, and thanks again!" she replied enthusiastically, turning and rushing out the door, then closing it behind her.

He looked at the door as he heard her footsteps rushing away, then let out a sigh, shook his head, and turned back to his piano, starting to play random little songs again to pass the time until time for his upcoming lesson with a student came.