The Art Site

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Yellow Paper, Part 8

It was the day before the concert. Sitting at the piano, her figure slouched and her head leaning over the keys, playing but not concentrating, Ava was thinking about what her mum had told her the day before. The notes came hesitatingly, the sound was completely different from the assured, confident way Ava had played only a few hours ago. It was as though, in that short time, something had changed in her, and now she wasn't sure what she thought, or what she wanted. Things that had seemed so simple and clear-cut before were complicated and difficult now. Kathy was not just the evil villain of a story, Ava was realising, she was a real woman, who had suffered and sometimes made other people suffer, but who loved her daughter.

But, Ava thought, my mum loves me and she doesn't want me to do what I want? What kind of love is that? If she really loved me, she would want me to play in the concert, she would want me to have a career doing something I love to do. I can't let her get in the way of that.

I will play in this concert.

Her back straightened as she thought this, the notes came out more firmly, and the room was filled with clear, slightly grim music.

Then Ava remembered the look on her mum's face when she said : “ He left me.” Wasn't that what she was doing? Just like her dad, she was cutting herself away from her mum. Ava was the only person left to her mum now, and she was planning on going away to do lessons when her mother was so against it. Besides, Ava realised, her mum wasn't just telling her not to have this career for a selfish reason. She really seemed to believe that there was no money and no future in it. So her mum was actually doing it for her?

Ava looked down at the piano, at the long row of black and white keys, the old, brown wood of the lid and the open book of music that sat on the stand. Suddenly, the memories came back. Leaning back on the couch which was close up to the piano, she remembered the early wish she had had: she'd decided, back when she was about 11, to play the piano for a career. Back then, things were simpler, Ava thought. You could be an astronaut when you grew up just as easily as you could be a soldier, a ballerina... or a pianist. She remembered days when she had cried over some piece that a teacher had made her learn, hating music. Hating being forced to learn it. Then that day when she'd discovered she actually liked playing. That was the day someone had complimented her on a piece she'd just perfected.

Funny, that a small thing like that could lead to all this, Ava reflected. All these problems, just because I want to play the piano. She couldn't give it all up for some eccentric idea of her mum's. I won't. I'm gonna play in that concert tomorrow, and mum better not try and stop me.

For some reason, Ava felt worse when she'd made this decision. Instead of feeling confident that she'd made the right choice, she felt increasingly worried about the concert, and played hard all evening, making more mistakes than she had in a long time.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Cake Tin


Oh no.
I shut my eyes and tried not to believe what the beeping meant. With an almost super - human effort, I reached down to the floor where my cell phone was lying, beeping away. Pressing the middle button, I looked at the time. 6:30 am. The enthusiasm and excitement I had felt last night, only a few hours ago, had completely disappeared. All that was left was disbelief that I could be getting up out of my cosy bed in the middle of the night to go petitioning, again.
Besides, I'd only just fallen asleep, at 1:00 am. We had spent the rest of the night before getting ready for today, making peanut and jam sandwiches, and packing things for a day out with the tables and boards. And... watching the end of the super 14 finals, and talking to our friend Emily who had come to help.

I began to feel, not for the first time, that we must all be slightly cracked. We were on our way to
the SBS Marathon to hit the crowds with the petition. Excuse the pun. We were there to "bring this puppy home." But was it worth it, to miss church lunch and go petitioning?

We were all set up on the lawn by the race track, with about four tables. The loudspeaker blared away, occasionally playing some decent music (like the Crusader's song) and a couple of people were coming over to sign at our tables.

I wanderd from table to table, not feeling particularly needed, until I found Em and a guy called Andrew at a table by a little old fashioned shop called "The Cake Tin."
That signified something good.

It was cold. We stuck our hands into our pockets, or put them on our face and nose, to warm them up. Slowly, our legs started to get stiff, and Emily and I jumped up and down to get warm, stamped our feet and stretched. I'm making it sound like we were getting tortured or something, but I guess it wasn't all that bad. After a while, Andrew asked us if we wanted a coffee or a hot chocolate. That was the best thing anyone said to me all day. There is something so comforting about drinking a hot chocolate on a cold day. It warms you from the inside out. Anyway, anything with the word 'chocolate' in it gets me hooked. We got tired of petitioning, so we waved to the people going past on buses, and a couple gave the thumbs - up sign, with a half puzzled, half amused look.

I went over to a crowd of people who were all waiting for the race to start. They were leaning eagerly over the road from the pavement, watching the thousands of people who were tensing to start the race. The loud speaker was counting down the seconds, and I stopped petitioning to watch. Suddenly, the red ribbon that held everyone back was cut, and the people sprang forward. The fastest came first, really strong looking, wiry guys that were really running. Then the joggers, then the walkers.

I had a good excuse not to be doing that marathon: Petitioning is so much more important.
Anyway, I wouldn't have managed it. But when I saw them all running, I really wanted to join in.

Our total count for the seven hours we put in on Sunday was: 1,200 sigs. We beat Auckland hollow.

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