She sits in the half-light, hunched over the piano, her fingers aching. She blinks away sleep, and she lets her fingers walk across the keyboard, trying to tempt something even remotely musical from the black baby grand of evil that sits in her front room.
She resorts to scales, her fingers moving up and down, back and forth. She gives up, and sighs, and tries to think some more. The sun is peeking through the clouds just above the houses across the street, a tiny sliver of golden light between two thunderheads of iron grey. She's been there, at the piano, all night.
No wonder her back is killing her.
She stands up from the stool she's been sitting on for more than six hours, and kicks it away. She leaves the damn thing as just another shadow in the early morning twilight.
She considers going to bed, but then decides against.
She's far too stiff to try to get comfortable. She decides, instead, to go for a walk. She pulls on a coat, and shoes, and she sets off into the slow dawn.
It's freezing cold outside, and her cheeks soon turn bright red.
Her breath mists in front of her, and she buries her hands deep in her pockets to keep them warm.
There was a storm in the night, so she isn't surprised to see, when she gets to beach, two blocks from her house, a roiling, seething monster of gunmetal grey lashing against the soft yellow sand.
It's beautiful, in its own way.
Angry and powerful.
She wishes she could write music like the waves; angry, powerful. That's what she feels like being. She doesn't, however, know how to be that.
Winner of the most prestigious public speaking competition in the country. A member of the national debating comp's champion team. Dux of year nine, dux of year ten, and on track to be dux of year eleven. President of the school's SRC. And yet, she feels inadequate. Useless.
She knows she's not. But that doesn't stop her from feeling it.
That doesn't stop people from telling her that she is.
It's Sunday morning.
It's Monday afternoon.
It has been for a couple of minutes now; the clock above the whiteboard is ten minutes slow, and it reads 11:53. She drums a pen on her table, as her Modern History teacher drones on. And on. And on.
She came first in the last assessment; she came first in the one before that, and the one before that. She's the most dutiful student, the cleverest, she always gets her homework done, and she never talks in class. Her notes are perfect.
But today, she hasn't written any.
She's just been drumming her pen on her table.
"God, Sarah," comes a guy's voice from behind her. "Could you do any less work?"
It's said jokingly, in jest, with good humour. Sarah however, snaps. She's angry, seething, roiling, a monster, and she tears him to size. Because she is powerful. She is the ocean.
And she's had enough of being stuck.