I drive my bruised fingers and short clipped nails deep into my palm, slowly drawing in big gulps of the musty summer air. I’m counting to ten, grinding my teeth together, and fighting the rising urge to scream. My eyes snap up to the passage in front of me, and I watch the inked black notes reform themselves into a colossal, looming mountain of horror. Fear squeezes at my chest and threatens to take control of my arms to tear the music into pieces. Release. My hands drop loosely to my side and I lean over and pick it up, setting the polished, worn wood under my chin for the millionth time. The passage lies, unassumingly innocent, before my glazed eyes.
Just before I begin, voices start to bounce around in my head; arguing back and forth. Anxiety is dressed in a simple summer dress, the picture of innocence. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that she has been following me around for days and days, whispering unkind words into my ears. When I finally turn around to face her, her eyes are ugly black pits, sharp knives that stab me in the stomach and twist back and forth, causing me to crumple at the knees and succumb.
Confidence is harder to grasp. I think I am holding onto her, but she’s dressed in a slippery silver cloth. For some, she is simply a part of them, integrated into their person. But for others, oftentimes their hands will slide straight through her, only to find her dissipated into mist and replaced by two ugly black pits staring right back at them
The two turn to face one another and Confidence speaks, loudly and firmly, “How could you have let this happen? They’re just blots of ink on a page.”
Anxiety replies, lazily filing her jet black nails into razor sharp points, “She should have realized that she’ll never get there. It’s better she quit now rather than later.”
“You know,” Confidence counters, “one day she’ll pick up her instrument, glance around her in search of your foolish mountain, and she’ll realize that the mountain is finally under her very own two feet.”
Anxiety simply glances away.
I press my fingers firmly to my temple, commanding the voices to cease. Taking yet another deep breath, I smile to myself. Within seconds, brilliantly pure sound floats into the air. It dances around the room like millions of sparkling fairies with colorful ribbons twirling in their wake. It wraps around the bookcases, under the bed, and bounces off the freshly painted walls. The musty breeze in the room slips out from underneath the door, replaced by the magnificent sound of music. Before I know it, I find myself among these fairies and their ribbons, with my own music as a warm blanket wrapped around me, filling me with an incomparable euphoria.
Keya Shah is 15 years old; she lives in Allen, Texas.