History was as uneventful as I’d hoped, the only drama being my lack of homework. Luckily, I had a number of good excuses lined up, which Mrs Morgan accepted quickly and let me off. In light of the result of her experimental change of seating, we were all back in our original seats, meaning I was a good distance from Ellie. Not that it really matters anymore; we both know we crossed the line last time and neither of us want a repeat.
Abi came and found me at lunch, keen to check the arrangements for after school. After a little discussion we decided to meet in music, that way we could catch up on lost time this morning on the composition. I remember clearly how much more confident she appeared, how much more at ease she was. I think I smiled, but it’s hard to be sure.
So here I am, waiting again. The clock on the wall tells me I’ve only been waiting a few minutes, but I find that hard to believe. I open my flute case and assemble the instrument, testing both hands for flexibility. My left hand is better than usual, but closing my right hand is difficult and painful due to the scabbing across my palm. I open and close it repetitively, which does seem to help, though it is still going to be difficult to play.
I take out the music and set it out on the stand, ready for when Abi turns up. The door opens behind me and before I can turn around, I can feel her arms around me. She kisses my cheek and almost skips out to collect her violin. She returns almost immediately and swiftly tunes it by ear, then allows me to tune to her. Once the metal has warmed a little, I am able to play. Abi’s gaze keeps drifting to the gash on my right hand.
“Is your hand OK?” she asks eventually.
“I tripped on th-the way home,” I explain. She doesn’t seem convinced, but for once I am telling her the truth.
She breathes out and closes her eyes, raising her bow to the strings of her violin. She counts me in a little slower than usual, perhaps in consideration for my hand. I start to play, managing to get my fingers down just fast enough to keep in tempo. Abi joins, as always filling out the harmony in perfect time. We keep playing until my fingers grow tired, losing ourselves in the soul of the piece.
As I pack away my flute, Abi continues to play, trying to improve the end, which she wrote herself as by that point I had given up on the idea of a duet. I sit and watch her for a while, admiring the feeling in every expression, in every note. After a while, she puts down her bow, breathing heavily with the intensity she put into every phrase.
“What’s in your head while you play?” she asks me. I consider for a moment, but can’t find an answer.
“I don-n’t kn-now.”
“Really? How do you play so beautifully then?”
“Very funny, now tell me what you picture when you play this.”
“Th-th-that painting,” I say, pointing to the print that inspired every bar of the music I wrote.
Abi grabs it and unrolls it, I can see her make the connection as she examines the artwork. She looks back at me and smiles.
“You’ve done it justice,” she says. I shake my head, knowing how hard I have tried to do just that, I can’t take her word for it. She steps closer to me, “You have done it justice,” she repeats.
This time I nod, though I still don’t believe it. She stands on her toes to kiss me, though I’m not sure why. I return the kiss and put my arms around her, feeling her warm body against mine. She leans back slightly, smiling as she whispers in my ear.
“Now let me see your home.”
I nod and collect my things, before taking her hand and leading her out of the room.