Tap went my fingers as they soared along the keyboard. My chipped silver nail polish glistened as I jotted down the words I wished I could write. I could taste the fresh peppermint on my tongue after I brushed my teeth. I was filling out not only an application, but my future.
My name is Maya Willkins , I'm eighteen and getting ready for my near future. I grew up in a trailer park with my single mom who worked at the local diner and my little brother who was 12 years younger than me, Denis was his name. We didn’t have the same father, my father had died a year before Dennis was born. He died in Afghanistan in the Air Force and that's all I know. My mom never liked to talk about it.
Dennis's dad was an old drunk with a beard that never ended, smoke breath, and squinty dark eyes. His name was Drake Lynched. My mom had made a mistake. She went out drinking then nine months later Dennis popped out. Drake then left Dennis, my mom, and I and we all stayed in Detroit wishing for the life we didn’t have.
Although my life was a complicated knot, my music kept me going through it all. In the fifth grade, I began playing the violin. I got a school instrument and started to practice. Of course I had struggles. My notes were wrong, my intonation was off, and I couldn’t read music. But over the years I began to realize I had a talent.
My Freshman year I auditioned for first chair symphony orchestra. Little did I know, I made it in. That year began my dream. Since I practiced daily, if I missed a day I would practice double the next. I got to the point where the tips of my fingers were callused and my wrists would become so sore I would soak them in ice water to numb the pain.
Now, January of senior year, I had to decide what my future was going to be. I stared at my screen. It read “Juliard school of music Scholarship auditions.” Suddenly a rush of stress rose over me. I shut the computer, grabbed all my books and headed out the library door.
I hopped in my moms Toyota Exhibition 2009 collection and began my ride home. I lived in a small trailer park called Lafayette Homes. It was about a 20 minute ride from the local library to the small box or so called house we lived in. The ride wasn’t interesting. I passed by a few crappy chinese restaurants and nail salons. It wasn’t anything special, I wasn’t anything special.
I pulled into the small parking area for Lafayette Homes and began the three box walk to my family’s trailer. I walked up the three little stairs to reach the creaky old screen door of the trailer. Our trailer was white with a pale blue stripe plastered against the bottom. Chipped paint and rust surrounded the metal around the roof and railings. I ignored the awful sight inside where I took off my shoes and put my books down. I could hear Snoop Dogg “Drop It Like It’s Hot” pounding outside Dennis’s room. I walked towards his room and opened the door.
“Hey, Dennis,” I said, yelling over Snoop Dogg.
“Hey Maya,” he said as he reached over to his speaker and turned the radio off.
“How was your day?” I asked
“School was good had a fractions test today.”
“Oh wow. Anyways, what do you want for dinner?”
“Hmm how about scrambled eggs and ketchup.”
“Your favorite,” I said as I made my way to the kitchen.
I cracked four eggs into a small white bowl with pink and yellow flowers and listened as the fork scratched along the base of the bowl. I placed a tablespoon of butter on the warm pan and watched it melt. I threw on the eggs and listened to them sizzle as they moved around. I split the eggs in two, cut up a few apples, and grabbed the ketchup. I put down all the things and grabbed two plates and two forks then yelled
“Dinners ready.” Dennis came along and we began to eat. It was silent until I heard a knock at the door. No one ever came to the door, so I was almost worried to find out who it was. But I put down my fork, wiped my face with a napkin, and walked over to the door. And who could it be, it was Drake, the little drunk who unfortunately was Dennis’s father.
“Listen Drake, now is not a good time to talk, my mom isn’t home, we are eating dinner-” I said shaking my knee. He Cut me off.
“I know this may not be the best time talk but I really just need to talk to your mom,” he said. He had been trying for months, even years, to apologize to my mom for not being there to raise Dennis. But He obviously had no success, Dennis was 7 and I’m not even sure if he knew Drake’s name.
“ I will have my mom maybe call you but please go home,” I said as I began to shut the door.
“ Wait, Maya listen, I’m sorry.” I could smell the alcohol on his breath, he had a wrinkled face with big dark circles under his eyes. I could tell he was drunk. I shut the door quickly and walked back over to the dinner table. Dennis had little globs of ketchup on his cheeks and a milk stash on his upper lip.
“Who was that?” he asked.
“oh no one, now finish up your dinner and go to bed okay?”
“okay,” he said.
The rest of the evening was silent, mom came home late when Dennis was asleep. I decided to wait till the morning to tell her about Drake. She already seemed stressed.
“Ringgg” went my doorbell. It was 7:00. I jumped out of bed and went into the one bathroom we had to shower and get ready. The water dripped down my back. I smothered some pantene shampoo onto my hair and then the conditioner. It was quiet, both Dennis and my mom were still sleeping. It was nice, it was my time to think. Particularly that day I thought about my application I needed to fill out and the piece I was going to play. It was worrisome, the pressure, the excitement after all my future was sitting right in front of me but could I find it? could I play it?
After hours of pondering on an audition song I decided on Johannes Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D Major, opposition 77. Written in 1878, it was a piece that was written with style and compassion. It had many ups and downs just like my life.
The next day I began to rehearse my piece. I practiced and practiced. my fingers moved all around shifting with harmonics,flats and sharps. I would practice for hours, I loved it, it was me, it was all I had.
Monday morning I went to school. I attended the Detroit Corner High School. Everyone went there. My school was different. It was very ethnical, all races blacks, white, Indians, Asian, Arabs, and Mexicans. I had many friends, almost all of which played music. My Best friend was Anita Brown. She was Black, grew up in the harder part of town, but like me, always had music to get by. She was an excellent flute player.
At 12:30 the bell rang for lunch and everyone rushed to the lunchroom.
I sat down at a table with my friends Anita and Joey.
“Hey, how is your day going?” Anita asked me with her pearly white teeth. She had just gotten her braces off and wouldn’t stop smiling and looking in the mirror.
“Good, how bout you?” I asked.
“ Pretty good kinda stressed though,” she said as she brushed her hair out of her face.
“Same, these auditions got me so stressed, it's all I’ve been thinking about for the past week.”
“ It's ok Maya, take the stress off yourself it's not that important.”
“Joey, this audition declares my future. Going to music school has been my dream since the fifth grade,.” I said upset. Joey was a down to earth kind of guy. He wore Crank-it blankets, due rags, had piercings and meditated in his spare time.
“Okay, okay I get it but even if you don’t end up pursuing music as a career I’m sure you’re soul and spirit will find something else to devote your life to.”
“Thanks you Joey but this is what I want, this is me” It then got quiet at our table until Tommy sat down at my table, Tommy was a foody. He pulled out his miso soup and his french baguette with comte cheese. Anita traded her pudding for his mini peach galette and the rest of lunch went smoothly as I ate my ham sandwich and thought about my auditions.
I walked into the small box of a home I lived in and said Hi to Dennis.
“Hey Maya, can you make me some popcorn?” he said
I went into the kitchen grabbed a bag of microwavable popcorn and popped it into the microwave for two minutes. When the popping stopped I pulled it out and put the buttery goodness into a bowl and yelled “ Denis! Popcorn is on the table I will be in my room practicing. I heard an okay yell and some fast footsteps towards the kitchen as I shut the door to my room.
My room was a quaint little room with white walls and beethoven posters plastered over the cracks and brown leak and I got out my violin and began to practice my piece. I isolated parts, I practices scales, I practiced standing up sitting down. After a few hours I heard my mom come home. She brought home leftovers from the diner, omelets, pancakes and sausage. We sat down and ate at the table. After we were finished eating Denis went back into his room to read his book. I decided that then was a good time to tell mom about Drake’s little visit the previous evening.
“So mom, last night Drake came to the house while you were still at work”
“Oh honey really? I told that bastard to stay away” she said seeming very upset.
“I told him not to come back and that perhaps you would call him.”
She sighed but then agreed. I then helped her wash the dishes and threw away the remaining cold crumbs of pancakes. I then got in bed and started to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, my English assigned us to read 20 pages that evening. But that night I couldn’t read. I could hear my mom talking to Drake on the phone
“ Drake hello this is Amy. Maya has told me that you showed up last night when I was still at work.” There was then a pause while he must have said something. She was yelling things like “Don’t ever come back again” and “Stay away from my kids you drunk!”
After about twenty minutes of constant yelling my mom hung up.
Weeks went by with practicing and hard work. My mom had some small fights with Drake but nothing too extreme. Denis got taller and got a cute little haircut, and I continued to practice my violin. The day had come my audition had come! The morning of I set my alarm for five thirty so I would have extra time to get ready. I curled my hair with my mom’s old curler and put on my long black dress with loose black blouse.I put on my black stockings with my little brown boots. I decided to eat breakfast before waking my mom up. So I ran into the kitchen and gulped down a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch. All I could think about was my audition. I sipped the remaining milk in my bowl and quietly went to my moms room. I peeked my head in and whispered,
“Mom”. I saw the quilt shift as she rolled up. I walked in and turned on the lamp.
“Hey mom time to get up for my audition” I said. She moaned and whispered
“ Go wake Denis up I’ll meet you in the car in 10.”
I rushed over to Denis’s room. I walked right in and turned the light on.
“Denis we gotta go to my audition time to get up”. He sat up and rubbed his big blue sleepy eyes. I went to his dresser and pulled out his yellow striped shirt that had some ketchup stains on the right sleeve and some grey sweatpants.I helped him get dressed and but on his blue superman socks. Denis was small for his age, he was still small enough to carry. So I picked him up and carried him into the kitchen. Sat him down and poured him some cinnamon toast crunch into the same yellow flowered bowl from two nights ago dinner . He ate up as I ran to the bathroom to check my hair. I heard my mom's footsteps walking into the kitchen. When I walked in I heard a knock. I crossed my fingers that it wasn’t you know who. my mom opened the squeaky screen door and of course Drake wasted out of his mind.
“Hey you hottie, nice ass” he said to my mom . suddenly I got very frustrated.
“Drake you need to leave, my audition is in two hours and you are the least of people I want to see. My moms deserves better than you. Denis deserves better than you. I deserve better than you” I yelled running over to the door. I saw him stand up straighter and then suddenly I felt a stinging slap go across my face. Drake had hit me. My head jerked as I heard my mom gasp. I then didn't remember what happened after that. My mom called the police and they came and took Drake away. My mom grabbed the frozen peas and I threw them over left cheek. After the police came my mom asked me if I still wanted to go through with my audition.
“ Mom I don’t care if some drunk bastard gives me a black eye, I will play my heart out until I get that scholarship.”
She said ok and we got into the car. It was a 40 minute car ride to the audition building. the ride was silent because of how shocked we were. Once we arrived I got out of the car with my family and violin and walked into the lobby of the building,
“ I love you sweetie” my mom said as she gave me a hug.
‘I love you too” Denis said.
They both went down and sat on a bench in the lobby next to the elevator. I looked at them one more time and then made my way up the stairs to the rehearsal room.
When I reached room A4 I took a deep breath and walked in. There were a few other musicians in there mostly other violinists. I unpacked my instrument and began fiddling around and humming my piece. I thought about Joey and how I needed to relax and meditate. I took a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Then a woman's voice called “Maya Willkins”. She escorted me into a small room with three judges sitting at a long table. The room was dim and none of the judges seemed to be happy. They all had paper work laid out in front of them. I introduced myself and my piece. They all gave me a look, I hoped that it wasn’t the bruised plastered across my face. They then asked me a few questions, and then, I began to play. Those 9 minutes, were the longest minutes of my life. and when I was done The look plastered across their faces was different than the one 9 minutes before. They looked at each other. my knees shaked. They said thank you, and the short blonde escorted me out. I went back to the rehearsal room packed up my violin, went and got my family and left.
The next few months went by in a flash. Until the day my letter came, and you can guess what happened.
*20 years later*
“Isabella,time to go ”
“I’m coming mommy” she grabbed her backpack and we jumped in the car.
20 minutes later we pulled up in the driveway of forest brook elementary.
“I love you mommy bye bye” she said with her sweet little voice.
“love you more”
I drove away and drove down State Avenue and pulled up to the building I was working in. I took the elevator next to the bench up to the third floor. I went past the rehearsal room hearing my high heels click against the ground. I ran into the room and sat down in the dim room at the long table. I got my papers out and five minutes later a young girl walked in.
“good morning my name is Kate Lynched” I froze and felt that stinging slap one more time.