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Written By: Sasha K. Lotnikee
June 16, 2014
CRASH! I knew I was in big trouble as soon the beautiful clarinet broke. Sobbing, I flung myself onto the couch and pounded my fists onto the padding of the furniture. The pretty piano playing stopped and I could hear footsteps. My heart thudded-- I couldn't hide; my parents would know where to find my anyway. "Gwen? Was that you?" My mother's sharp voice interrupted my thoughts. Then, I heard a shriek. She saw the shattered clarinet on the ground. "Miss Gwendolyn Leona Angelico, please explain why this priceless instrument is in pieces on the floor!" I heard my father's stern voice has he peered behind the couch. I wiped the teardrops away from my eyelashes, and tried to explain. "Well...I was trying to play the clarinet, and I couldn't make a decent tune...and so I...uh...it...fell on the floor." I quickly tried to scamper out of the room. "Hold it there, young lady! You're going to have to pay for this, and you're not going to squirm out of punishment in any way." His eyebrows were arched as he ran his hand through his black curly hair, and turned to my mother. "Rowena, what are going to do about this? She's obviously going to have to pay for it, but what about the grand chamber music concert I had planned in Paris next week? And what of the London orchestra when you were playing the clarinet in next month?" She simply shook her head and fingered her thick blonde hair. "We'll just have to fake it...they'll think whatever clarinet we bring in will be the famous clarinet my mother played." She turned to me. "Go to your room. Now." Her azure blue eyes seemed to pierce my heart and I nodded quickly, dashing back to my room.
I closed my eyes and lay on my bed. How could I possibly be the real child of Rowena and Alessandro Angelico, the two most esteemed, prestigious musicians in the world, when I couldn't even manage to play chopsticks on the piano? It really wasn't my fault. About the clarinet, anyway. In my frustration, I threw it on the floor. Every time I heard my mother play a virtuoso piece on the piano, my heart ached. My father would travel all over the world, performing in operas with well-known singers and actors. It pained me to hear him sing. My blurry eyes stared mournfully up at the self-portrait I had painted on the wall. I could only make out the fuzzy lines of the picture. I had first thought I would use pastels and chalk, but I didn't feel the variations of tone and color were right. So I chose watercolors. The features of the portrait seemed to be muddled. A blob of peachy-orange, framed with a dark caramel brown. This is how my family saw me: muddled, unclear, useless. I shed even more tears, until my pillow was drenched with water. I had tried every instrument out there, from the French horn, to the piano, to the cello, even bagpipes. I thought my singing would come out half-decent...it didn't come close. I still couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of rhythm, tempo, or dynamics. I tried wiped my tears away, and a knock interrupted my thoughts.
"Come in." My voice was dull and broken. To my surprise, my grandmother came in with a tray of food. My grandmother, the great Angelika Austerlitz, the original owner of the clarinet I smashed.
"Oh, grandma, I'm am so sorry..." I broke down into tears again. She came over, and in her thick German accent, said,
"Gwen, come here and have some chicken broth. It'll make you feel better." She placed the porcelain plate next to my bed, and came over. She smelled like lavender, and her voice was soothing. "It's alright, Gwen. Anger can get the better of us. I used to have a temper like you when I was younger too!" I sipped the soup.
"You did?" I couldn't possibly imagine my dear grandmother throwing a temper tantrum. With her silver halo of hair, misty gray eyes, and an almost expressionless face, her serenity and calm demeanour seemed to have been innate. She nodded at me, and smiled.
"What were you angry about?" She asked, not moving her expressionless face as she gently took the bowl from my hands and handed my a plate of salad. I sniffed, trying to ward off tears.
"I seem to have no place in this realm of music. Mother and Father can play as musically and artistically as they want, and I can't do a single thing. Why is this? Why? You can play the clarinet, Grandmother Leona can play the piano...Aunt Rebecca can play the harp... I can't do anything!" I picked up the fork and crunched on a piece of lettuce.
"Don't say that, Gwen! Of course you have a talent!" I was shocked. That was the first time those words were said to me. I bit off a piece of carrot, and turned to her. "Like what?" Grandma's eyes diverted to my drawings. "Not that! I can't draw..." I trailed off. Grandma turned to me sternly. And there was silence for a minute or two as I chewed. Then, I cut through the silence. "Is it possible to feel homesick for a place that you have never been before?" I had wanted to be musical like my parents since I was born. I had never played anything beautiful on any musical instrument, unlike the rest of my family. Grandmother Angelika's eyes softened at my question, and she turned off to the distance. "The Germans think so--they even have a word for it: "Fernweh"...and perhaps it was Fernweh that you're feeling." I nodded. I was homesick for the Realm of Music, the place I had never been to before. She cleared her throat, and continued. "I also believe, that every single person has the potential for something. It may not be music, but there's definitely something out there." Again, she looked at my self-portrait. I wiped away my tears and looked closer. I had painted the eyes a brilliant shade of blue, and had added texture and perspective to the work of art: shadow near the eye sockets, the individual strands of hair, the rosy cheeks, the cheekbones. Inside the eyes, there was something stirring. I don't know what it was. Tenderly, Grandmother took my plate away. In place of it, she handed me a tin of beautiful watercolors, each oval of paint shining with glossy pigment. "Never forget your talent," she whispered. Softly, she took up the tray and left the room.