Kat took a deep breath in and let it out. Slowly. She ran her hands over the fabric of her dress, plain and dark but beautiful in it's own way. She closed her eyes. She wasn't sure if she could do this. She was nervous. Was she really ready? Was she prepared? She had been working toward this moment for years. It was hard to believe that it was really here. Her final performance. At least for her college career, but after this she would go out and student teach and look for a job. Would she be able to play like this again? Could this be her last recital? She didn't know. Maybe she should ask someone. She hoped she could find opportunities to play in an ensemble.

She opened her case that seemed both new and worn. It was almost nine years old. Nine years. She smiled and ran her hands over the separate parts of her instrument. Her Clarence. That's what she had named her bassoon. It was the first name she had given that had meant something. Clarence, because he could always make her smile when life wasn't so wonderful. The guardian angel to her George Bailey. There were countless days that their efforts had comforted her. He had saved her. He was what made her decide she wanted to be a band director.

The man who had shown her this passion was in the audience tonight. Her high school director. She flashed back to that day in the band room when she had been sitting and practicing for college auditions and he had come in to help her. He had smiled when she finished playing. He had looked at her and said, "You will never play better than at your senior recital, and I hope I'm there to see it." and he was here.

She picked up the foot joint of her bassoon and starting putting the instrument together. She smiled and ran her hands over the dents and scratches in the wood. She had been careless when she first got it. They had been through a lot together, and here was the culmination of their work. She picked up the reed she had been soaking. She had made it herself. She made all of her reeds herself. She was proud of that. She attached her seat strap to the bottom of her instrument and wrapped the extra around her right hand and gripped her bassoon at the base.

"Ready to go?" Devon, stage manager for that night, popped his head around the corner, with a stupid smile on his face.

"As ready as I'll ever be." Kat replied with a nervous laugh. He knew she was nervous. He walked over to her and put his hand on her cheek.

"You're going to be amazing. I'll be watching from the audience. Some one will cover for me." He kissed her and walked away, giving her a thumbs up on his way out.

Kat smiled and turned toward the stage. She was glad she had Dev. She would think about him while she was playing. It's always easier to be expressive when you've got something to think about.

Kat took a deep breath, let it out, put a smile on her face, and walked out onto the stage.