It was fifth grade. I had always loved piano. Not so much the sound, but the keys.
The keys. I enjoyed pressing them. It made me happy.
At the time, I had not yet received lessons. Of course, on a couple of occasions I briefly tampered with the instrument, and that was all I needed.
On this particular day, I was at school. Forest Park Elementary. Mrs. Warrick, the music teacher, led us down the hall to where the piano awaited its audience as Parent-Teacher Night neared.
And I wanted to perform.
So today, Mrs. Warrick deviated from the traditional curriculum of recorders and ukuleles, and allowed us an indulgence. She invited those who could play piano to venture forth and perform.
A few kids in the class often bragged about their piano skills acquired from their weekly lessons. Weekly lessons my parents could not afford.
Surprisingly, no one raised his or her hand to accept Mrs. Warrick’s rare invitation. Their failure to do so, only prompted my decision to accept.
I had it in me. I could play. I knew I could.
My hand flew eagerly into the air.
“Dahlia,” Mrs. Warrick announced, “Shall be the first. All right, come on up. No talking, class. Go ahead, dear.”
(Well, she didn’t really say “dear”. I just flavoured her otherwise cold command with that kind phosphate.)
So, I climbed up onto the bench, intrigued by the pedals that mocked my foot’s reach.
My pedal preoccupation was quickly thwarted however, by the sudden artistic surge running through my arms towards my fingertips.
There was something special in me that was finally going to be released.
All these people would be witness to my performance, which my mind had already hallmarked.
My fingers began to stray with reckless inspiration, prancing about across the keyboard.
I really had it in me.
But, I guess “it” must have stayed in me, because “it” never came out.
Hmm… What can I say?
Mrs. Warrick was angry.
The kids all laughed at me.
Of course, I felt embarrassed, but oddly I also felt good about myself.
You see, other kids may have had the ability to play the piano. I, on the other hand, had the ability to raise my hand.
So, even though my parents could not afford those piano lessons, they afforded me some of the most priceless lessons a child could learn.