Gregor sat and cracked his knuckles, something his mother always hated. He wondered if he was ready. His nerves resurfaced with a vengeance. He grabbed the edge of the stool and breathed like his therapist had shown him. Gradually the anxiety lessened. Although he felt somewhat better he was still plagued by the doubts his father had instilled in him at a very young age. ‘You’ll never amount to anything’, ‘Why can’t you be more like your brother?’ ‘ Hahaha, you famous?’ were just some of the memories of the put-downs that he remembered at that moment.
He took a moment to search out his mother’s face. He found her, smiling expectantly. She nodded and gave him the thumbs up. His Nana waved and nodded in encouragement too.
‘OK, let’s do this,’ Gregor thought as he stretched and let his fingers gently settle on the piano keys. Closing his eyes he forgot the panel watching him, he forgot his mum and Nana on the sidelines, and even forgot his father, as the music entered his being and poured out through his fingers.
For the next three and a half minutes Gregor wasn’t the scared young man, the ‘waste of space’, he was the music and nothing else. He swaying in time with the music in his head as his fingers found their way up and down the keys without any conscious thought. This was Gregor’s world. This is where he wanted to exist forever.
As the rhythm slowed and he came to the end of his piece he sat back from the keys and stared at them waiting for any reaction in he room.
Once again he searched out his mother. She was silently clapping, as was his Nana. At least he had pleased them. That was always his standard. He remembered the first time that he had played one of his pieces for them and how surprised they had been at his talent to both write and perform such splendour.
“Gregor,” the voice of the head of the panel woke Gregor out of his reverie.
“Sir,” Gregor replied.
“Mr Warner will do,” the head of the panel told him smiling. “That was something incredible, young man,” he added.
For just a moment Gregor wasn’t sure he had heard right, “Incredible good or incredible bad?” he asked.
One of the other panellists laughed.
‘Bad,’ Gregor thought, ‘I’ve fluffed my only chance.’
“Incredibly good,” Mr Warner said quashing Gregor’s fears. “You are a very talented musician and we would be more than happy to accept you to the college of music. Young man I don’t believe you know just how good you are. I’ve looked across at the notes of all my fellow panellists here and the comments they have written range from amazing to wonderful with everything in between. If you will accept our offer we can start the process of enrolment straight away. You are truly going to be an asset.”
“I, I…” Gregor stammered only seeing the black and white of the piano keys through the tears that were welling up.
His mum and Nana rushed in and hugged him. “You did it,” they both said over and over. They too were crying.
“I did it,” Gregor finally said standing up to take Mr Warner’s proffered hand.
“You smashed it, I think you young people say,” Mr Warner said shaking Gregor’s hand vigorously. “Welcome.”