(A/N: Hi, I'm going to be submitting this for my high school's paper this Friday. Any feedback you can give me will help a lot! EDIT: Everyone's lightning-fast reviews really came through for me! I'm going to format the story and get it to the press a few minutes from now, so many many thanks to each of you.)

The Piano Girl

I pushed the door open, met by the slow, arrhythmic clinking of piano keys. On entering, I discovered the dusty mahogany piano that usually lay silent, unoccupied, was currently entertaining a boy.

I recognized this student from my science class, where he sat behind me and occupied himself by tossing crumpled worksheets at the teacher with a devious grin on his face. That day, he sat behind the keyboard and occupied himself by stabbing at the ivories with his tongue between his teeth. His brown curls shivered as his index finger pounded against the keys.

I let my bag drop near my keyboard in the corner, and the boy jumped. I waved timidly, wondering why he was there. I usually had a few minutes to myself before students filed into the piano lab. This boy wasn't even in piano lab. "Hey…" I searched for a name. I couldn't find one. "…you," I finished.

He gave a slight wave in return, more of a twitch of the arm than anything. "Oh, hey Katie."

I smiled tightly. He knew my name but I didn't know his. I couldn't imagine a more perfect situation.

He glanced at the teacher's sheet music, lying abandoned on the mahogany stool next to him. "D'you know where Ms. Brown is?" he asked me.

I shrugged and took a seat behind my plastic keyboard. "She'll probably be back in like ten minutes."

He nodded slowly, not taking his eyes from me. "'Kay, I guess I'll wait." With that, he turned back to the piano, and I started going through my bag. Soon, the boy began poking out a Fur Elise with many wrong keys and many swears, interspersed with recognizable fragments.

After I had given up on remembering whatever the hell it was that I had been looking for, I considered my pencil. Thirty more seconds, and I would have willingly plunged it into my eardrum to end this torment. Unable to stand the noise any longer, I said, "Um!"

The noise stopped.

I smiled, perhaps a little frantically. "Um, if you want, I can show you how to play that."

The boy blinked his blue eyes at me in a started way. "Oh, well, sure. I mean, if you want to."

All my worksheets came fluttering to the floor in my haste. I stood next to him, and the usually smirking and swaggering troublemaker put his head between his shoulders.

I played it for him once, slowly, and then I showed him the first few notes. He tried to copy my fingers before I had even taken them off the keys. Then he had trouble with the hand positioning. Finally, I gave up on my instructions of, "Pinky on C. No. No- your OTHER C!" and moved his hand for him. It became easier and easier on my ears the longer I stayed. I guided his fingers, and repeated the song for him frequently, and soon, he could play it while I sat still on the bench beside him. I didn't have to make a single remark. The thought that I had helped him play made me want to beam, jump and squeal an ode to joy.

While the boy was no Beethoven, he seemed to pick up the song with remarkable ease, almost intuitively. I had taken five lessons to learn it, but he accomplished this feat within the half-hour between lunch and class. Fifteen minutes after I made my offer, he could play Fur Elise without making me regret being born with ears.

The boy leaned back. "Awesome!" He grinned at me, and I smiled at him. I flicked up an approving thumb for good measure. He cocked his head to the side, making his brown curls shiver. "You're a really good teacher, you know?"

I shrugged modestly but I was smiling just the same. "Heh, you're a pretty good student."

His eyes brightened. "Hey, can you teach me how to play Heart and Soul?" he asked, leaning towards me. I didn't mind. "I can play the bottom fine, but I don't know the melody!"

I shrugged and my smile widened. "If you want to, sure. There's still a couple minutes before class." I'd always been grateful for the few minutes before class, before the other students filed into class.

Quickly, we swapped our seats, and he pounded out the chords while I tapped out the melody. He kept playing after I finished the first verse, so I kept playing, and we made music until I was improvising a full octave higher than the score. For every particularly discordant note that I hit, I giggled and he grinned, but we kept playing. I couldn't help myself. It was nice. I didn't think any musician, dead or alive, could compose a song as wonderful as ours.

Our fun ended as suddenly as it began when the door squeaked, announcing that we had company. I turned around on the piano stool while my fair-haired student leaped from his seat.

George, one of my classmates in piano lab, cautiously entered.

"Hi George!" I said with a cheerful wave.

He crept forward, and carefully placed his music folder on his keyboard without taking his eyes off of me. "Hey Katie, John," he said, keeping his head and his voice low.

"John," I muttered, giving myself a mental slap on the forehead. How could I forget a name as simple as John?

My student John grabbed the sheet music, which we had transposed from the bench to a nearby plastic keyboard. He faced me and said, smiling sheepishly, "That was really awesome. Maybe you can teach me to play like that tomorrow?" He ran to catch the door before the hydraulics had a chance to close it, before I could even answer. He spun at the door with the papers flapping, and he called, "Catcha later, Katie!" Then, he disappeared into the hall.

Meanwhile, George was still giving me a very curious stare, almost as if I held a blood-spattered knife and refused to acknowledge it. "Kate?" he said slowly, peering at me intently. "What were you doing?"

I returned his disturbed gaze until I realized what other students might do in an empty classroom for twenty minutes. "Oh ew!" I snapped, "Seriously George, you think I'm that kinda girl? I was teaching him how to play Heart and Soul. Get your mind outta the gutter."

George sputtered out a laugh. "Wuh-what?" Then, his face split into a toothy grin. He looked from me to the doorway, chuckling. When he looked at the confusion that was, without a doubt, displayed on my face, he started cackling like a madman until he doubled over and knelt on the floor, laughing until tears gathered in his eyes.

"What?!" I demanded, balling my hands into fists. "What's so funny?"

George finally got control of himself long enough to inform me, "He's been playing the piano for six years!"