Author's Note: Okay, so this isn't the first piece of fiction I've written, and doubtless it won't be the last. I must admit I am an absolute 'newbie' to this sight, so I've not actually read many other pieces of fiction on here, but, if you so wish, I would be happy to read pretty much anything - I'm a self-confessed bookworm, and there's not much I dislike to get my teeth into!

Anyway, I suppose I should start here by saying something about the story that follows this little note. I've written out a Prologue plus other chapters, and they've been passed around by my friends for a couple of long months, and they've finally forced me to sign up here and post. I do so in hopes that people will review and give me constructive criticism, and hopefully like my story. I've written other things which I will also post, but this...attempted novel is definately my favourite, and is quite close to my heart.

If anyone fancies Beta-reading my work, I'd be most grateful!


If music be the food of love, play on;

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

- Twelftg Night; William Shakespeare.


Prologue

When you've played your best, an applause is a welcome wonder. The sound of a thousand hands slapping together in praise is fantastic. Your soul lights on fire and your lips spread into only the most beautiful of smiles. When you've not played well, an applause is a welcome exit. But when you've played your best, and you know you've still lost - you still weren't good enough. Applause is bittersweet. Your lips are smiling, but your eyes are tearing. A film of water covers your irises, and threatens to spill down your cheeks, leaving blotchy red tracks in the torrent's wake.

During my bittersweet applause I am one of those who manages to hold her tears. They will come, but not before my crowd; I am too proud to allow such a display. And, having played better than ever before in my career, nobody would expect such a show. It would be misinterpreted. 'She's crying with happiness because she knows she's won' they would think. 'She's overwhelmed by the experience', they would say.

But I would not be crying for either reason. Sobs would wreck through my body, should I let them, because I know I am not the best, as I once believed.

Though perhaps it is not even that, perhaps it is because I realise now that I never even deserved to be the best. And somehow, somewhere deep inside, I knew that all along. That's why I tried to hard. And that's also why I failed.

A genius in their art can ruin their skill by working to better something when they cannot. If you paint a picture and keep trying to add different, complex strokes, or designs, eventually, the picture will be lost, and rendered worthless. Because there is too much. The same way, I have honed my skills to the extreme; alone, I may be as relaxed as I wish, I can make beautiful music. But before a crowd, my fingers have become mechanical, robotic. I have not become 'just another musician', because, despite my mechanized response to an audience, it is recognised by most critics that I am exceptionally talented. But, despite the fandom I have achieved. The following that has gathered around me. I constantly disappoint myself.

And, despite what I may have believed for the majority of my life, I know now that genius can be surpassed by hard work. Especially if the hard worker relaxes into their own separate style. A genius in their art can be the 'next big thing'. The next Mozart, the next Schubert, the next Brahms, the next Beethoven. But what's more impressive is when a musician works diligently to imitate these styles, to perfectly conquer each classic composition; and then combines the skills gained through the practice of each one, within themselves, to create a carefully balanced blend.

A genius is a crowd pleaser; whilst a dedicated, diligent, diehard worker is a crowd shocker.

At twenty three years old, I found myself on a stage before an audience of thousands, blinking back an onslaught of tears, and in the former category.

I turned to the right, and felt a warm kiss to my cheek, and a large bunch of flowers placed into my waiting arms. As was customary. Then I turned away from my supporters, and tiptoed away from the front of the stage as the applause began to dissipate around me. I allowed my eyes to flicker for a moment to the 480 kg instrument to my side. The ebonized birch called out to me, and my fingertips tingled with want, as my eyes traced the white keys which shone in the light. The flowing gold script of 'Steinway & Sons' caught my eye, and I felt my lips twist into a small smile. She was a beauty.

Another beauty appears as I find myself nearing the end of my walk to the back of the stage. Hidden from the crowd in a little alcove that stood just before the curtained entrance to the exit, stands a blonde-haired man. He looks out of place. He never quite grew into wearing a suit, and his tie is at an awkward angle. His slender fingers are clasped before him in an effort to keep from fidgeting. But his much praised azure eyes are trained on my own form, desperately seeking to catch my eyes with his intense gaze. It takes all the willpower I possess, but I do not give in. My eyes find his chin, and I focus on that instead. When I am near enough, I reach out and pull his tie straight for him.

Without looking, I know his eyes are still trying to find mine; but I cast my own down to the mucky old floorboards beneath our feet. His shoes are shiny, and I suppress a laugh. They must have been new.

Distance seems more prominent now, as I listen to the last claps die away, soft spluttering coughs from the crowd, and my own racing heart as I stand before him. Somewhere, an announcement is made to the hall, and his name is announced. I register an unintelligible sentence pouring from his lips, and then he has brushed delicately past me, on his own journey towards the concert grand that sits waiting centre stage, lit by blinding white lights from above.

I wonder groggily whether my heat lingers on the keys, and on the stall. I find my eyes searching out his form as he carefully adjusts his sleeves, and places his shiny black shoes gently over the golden pedals. From my vantage point in the hidden niche of the side wall, I can see his tense muscles through his dark blazer. I let my gaze linger slightly on his caged feet. I'd rarely seen him play with shoes on. He preferred to be more free; but liberation did not come easy on a stage. In this competition there were standards.

He wore the suit, tie, and shoes for the same reason I wore the closest thing to a ball gown I could sit comfortably in. I should have preferred jeans and a T-shirt.

Another announcement from the front of the stage was caught by my ears; but I barely registered it. And, as the first chords spilled from the woodwork, I felt myself sink backwards into the wall; my hands flush against the black paint. My eyes drifted shut, and I felt a feeling swell deep in my stomach. It quickly spread throughout my body, as though it were racing through my bloodstream. Each muscle slackened as it was overcome by emotion; from my head to my toes, I relaxed. As I listened to the masterpiece that drifted over me henceforth, I was content.

I lost.


Author's Note: I hope this was well received! And I would be really grateful to anybody who takes the time to leave me any comments!