This little story is from Chapter Nine of my memoir, Off Kilter.
Practicing the piano was a nerve-wracking challenge, thanks to my father. He sat in an easy chair nearby and made tsk noises with his teeth when I hit the wrong key. I kept on, though, in spite of the anxiety. Playing the piano was one way I could strike my own chord. I could put feeling into my fingers, and expression into the notes I played. No one could say I was wrong to feel that way. It wasn’t me, after all, but the music.
After a few years, my teacher, Mrs. Winslow, enrolled me in a competition at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. There I would play the pieces I’d been practicing for weeks, careful of my fingering and posture at the bench. Everything counted – hitting the right keys, playing at the correct tempo, holding my wrists parallel to the keyboard and remembering to do all this at the same time.
On the day of the competition, I’m sure my family, all four of us, looked scared as we climbed out of our black Chevy sedan. We were scared of something almost every day – new places, strange people, unexpected events. This day had the potential for all three.
A familiar man in a tan windbreaker stood in the parking lot. He walked confidently away from his car, shook my father’s hand and greeted my mother. I knew his daughter, one of the other piano students, but I was too shy and nervous to meet his eyes.
He squatted down to my level. “You go in there, Linda, and knock ’em dead,” he said. A light breeze ruffled his dark brown hair, then lifted my fear and carried it away.
Inside the building, I won my first blue ribbon.
Do you remember a time when someone you barely knew paid you a small kindness?
Small Kindnesses, a novel by Fiona Robyn is available for free on Kindle all day November 27th!
And be sure to check out all the other “small kindnesses” post today at Writing Our Way Home!