Feeling exhausted, I made my way to school. I realised, though, that the combination of tiredness and the exhilaration of the previous night had made me completely forget my disappointment over the refused bursary.
During the commute, my thoughts kept turning back to Toby. Did this mean that I was falling for him? I had never before met anyone who made me think about them so much. But I couldn’t allow myself that, I suddenly realised, not when New York was beckoning. That would be a recipe for disaster, I told myself firmly. If, and I was aware that this was a very big if, Toby did like me just as much, then either I would be leaving London heartbroken and would be miserable in New York, or I’d manage to persuade Toby to join me; but that could be risky, as then he might end up being miserable. This was nuts, I thought, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Time to come back to reality, Heather.
My first class went surprisingly well, given my lack of sleep, and I had played the piece without a single glitch.
‘So, my years of nagging are finally sinking in, eh?’ Ed commented, pleased. ‘That’s how it ought to be played.’
‘And that’s with about three minutes’ sleep!’ I smiled.
‘No rest for the wicked and no rest for the extremely talented.’ Ed patted my back. ‘I hope you’ve got a big enough suitcase, because I think New York is most definitely in your future. Keep playing like this and you’ll sail through that audition. You’re a shoo-in for that scholarship.’
I realised he still didn’t know about the Yang scholarship refusing me. How could he, when I hadn’t told anyone yet? I opened my mouth, about to tell him, but then thought better of it. Ed was in such a good mood and I wasn’t in any great shape for a serious conversation, so I let it slide. I’d tell him the following day. It’s not like it would make any difference, I reasoned.
‘Don’t you just love it when it all comes together?’ Ed said enthusiastically. I forced a weak smile. ‘Let’s hear it again.’ Ed beamed at me and I obliged, losing myself in the notes, pushing back the image of the damn bursary letter.
Instead of going out to grab a bite, I holed myself up in the school library for the lunch hour, scouring the shelves for books and guides on grant and scholarship applications. I took down some details, underlining heavily the deadline of each scholarship.
‘Apply by the fifteenth of April. Great,’ I muttered under my breath, as I came across yet another grant scheme whose deadline had already passed. I crossed it out on the list.
Dejected, I sighed, looking out of the window. This was looking like a pointless task. Would I ever make it to Juilliard? Just because I had believed I would go there for so long didn’t mean it would happen, I mused. This was when I needed my mum more than ever, to reassure me and give me some much needed perspective. Only she’d know how to say the right thing and give me hope again. My reverie was interrupted by my mobile ringtone. I had forgotten to silence it and now a dozen pairs of eyes bore into me disapprovingly. But I was past caring.
I answered my phone defiantly as people continued to stare.
‘Hello?’ I looked up and saw the librarian fixing me with an icy glare. ‘Hang on, hang on,’ I whispered into the phone. ‘Calm down.’
I quickly picked up my handbag and rushed out, leaving the books and my notes behind. Out in the corridor I didn’t have to keep my voice down. In fact, it was hard to hear the phone with all the din of students milling about, enjoying their lunch break.
‘Amy, listen to me. We will find a way to pay for the show,’ I spoke, for it was Amy, panicked about the cost of putting on a show, a detail that she had completely left out of sight upon hearing the great news. ‘Money will never stand in the way of our dreams, remember?’ I reminded her, hoping my words were having the desired effect, yet acutely aware of the irony of the situation. Who was I to be comforting anyone about money not being an obstacle to their dream, when it was looking like it was going to put a stop to my own dream. ‘Remember? You said that. You also said there’s always an alternative. There’s got to be a way.’
Amy finally agreed, conceding my point. I told her that was the Amy I knew and loved and promised to call her later to talk more about it. I ended the call, repeating to myself ‘There’s always a way’. Maybe it was time I started to take my own advice, I wondered. Automatically I headed back into the library. However, as I reached the desk with all my scholarship guides and notes, I decided against spending any more time poring over those books. They did not hold the answer. I could waste another week, or even a month, filling out endless scholarship application forms and gathering all the necessary documents and recommendation letters, and for what? Another letter of refusal? If the Yang scholarship didn’t see fit to give me the money, why would any of the other bursaries think otherwise? No, there had to be some other, more guaranteed, way of getting hold of some money. So I turned on my heel and walked right out.