You Know What They Say About the Third Wish

What if? What if I turned right instead of left. If I had pasta instead of rice. If I picked piano instead of guitar. If I followed my dreams instead of turning away. I don't want 'what if'.

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1. When all is said and done.

 

You know what they say about the third wish.

The moment you become an adult is one you will remember for the rest of your life. It does not necessarily occur when you reach 18 or 21. I know many men who still appear to be mentally 3. No, the actual transition is much more subtle. It is when you open your eyes to the world.

I have always wanted to be older. Old enough to ride the rollercoaster, old enough to see the latest Harry Potter film. Old enough to smile at at a guy and not be called a kid, old enough to eat chips for every meal, to be free. And yet the older I got, the more I wanted to gain back my lost innocence. Years passed like days, each adding a invisible grain of sand to timer of my life. The older I get, the more it seems that the Garden of Erised is filled with more than one poison apple, with high walls that I cannot yet see penning me in. This scary adult world is filled with things like taxes, mortgages,death. The bubble has popped. This world is far too dark, too big, for a scared little thirteen year old who can't even make her GCSE choices. I've done my wishing, my hiding. The world won't wait for me.

Lauren wants to be a vet.

Robyn wants to be a child-minder.

Adam wants to be a marine biologist.

Becky, even Becky- disorganised and forgetful- wants to be a photographer.

Me, I just want to curl up under my duvet and hide from the world. Let somebody else sort out its problems.

***

There is no money in music. That is all anyone says. It is fine as a hobby, as a way to vent your sorrows. But it is not and never will be, a career. So picking music as a GCSE was about the most idiotic thing I could have done in my families eyes.

I have been playing guitar since I was seven. I picked one up on a trip to my uncles and was enraptured. It seemed to sing to me. Unwillingly, my parents paid for lessons, on the premise that I would lose interest after a couple of months. 9 years later and I'm still going. My guitar – Ernie, as I like to call it- has been a friend, a wet shoulder and a diary when nobody else could hope to understand the stupefying complexity of a pre-pubescent girl. It has been my connection to the outside world, singing out loud and clear when my voice faltered and faded. It is my dream, my future, my life. Yet even it, in this moment of panic appears to be leaving me.

“You alright?”

A face appears at the corner of my vision, dotted with the dark smudges of hyperventilation.

“ Yeah I'm fine. Just gimme a minute.” I take long deep breaths, feeling them shudder up my spine. I been preparing for this moment for months. I know every note, every chord. I will be fine. I will be fine. I WILL be fine.

Repeating this mantra, I get up, sway slightly and head for the curtains. If I squint I can see the assessors lined up in front of the stage. They're probably perfectly nice people, but in my head they breathe fire, faces riddled with pus filled warts and other such dainty features. I sit down, fast. I'm sweating, beads of it running down my forehead, ruining my carefully applied make-up. Sweating to death, what a way to die. Somebody clicks their fingers in front of my face and I snap out of it.

“You're on.” My teacher smiles at me wanly. He knows exactly how I feel, and can do nothing for me.

I grasp my guitar and make my way unsteadily into the middle of the stage. The examiners assess my every move, eyes burning into my skin. I smile a little awkwardly and begin to play.

***

Stumbling off stage, I stagger in to a chair. The others crowd around me.

“ How did it go?” They ask, faces hungry for any tip that might help them.

“I have no idea..........,” I mumble weakly. All the adrenaline has gone, leaving me drained, “But I could do with a cup of tea.”

And that at the end of the day that all we can do. Try our best. Whether this goes well or not, my fate is up to me. I have to make my own choices, take responsibility for my own decisions. And no piece of paper with a letter on it is going to make up my mind for me.

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