Author: Nancy Ohlin
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Release Date: November 10th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Print Length: 268
Format: Paperback and Digital
Print ISBN: 978-1442464902
“May I?”Without waiting for my answer, Mr. Rossi sits down next to me at the piano and pushes the quilted cover aside. As he does, his tweed jacket grazes my bare arm. My skin tingles from the contact, and I want him to do that again: accidentally-on-purpose touch me. Although it was likely just an accident, and I really need to cut this out already.He raises and lowers his elbows, then closes his eyes. He smells like his handkerchief, except warmer, sultrier. He launches into the first movement—initially at tempo, then more slowly, then with a series of fits and starts in the form of ritardandos and accelerandos. His interpretation is decidedly more measured and melancholy than mine, and more passionate, too.He stops just before the shift to the second movement and turns to face me.“So . . . what do you think?” he asks me.Our legs are almost touching. Should I inch away? Or stay where I am?“Beatrice?”He knows my name. After just the one class. I should correct him and tell him that everyone calls me “Bea.” But I love the way he says “Beatrice”—like a poem, and with that dreamy accent.Oh, right, I need to respond. “Yes! Sorry! That was wonderful! Really deep and intense and tormented.”“Schumann was in a great deal of torment when he wrote this part.”“What was the matter with poor old Schumann?”“Poor young Schumann. He was twenty-something at the time. He was in love with his piano teacher’s daughter, Clara Wieck. But Mr. Wieck wouldn’t let them be together. Schumann wrote a song for Clara called ‘Ruines’ because he felt that his life was in ruins without her. That song became the beginning of the Fantasy.”Oh my God, how romantic. But I probably shouldn’t say that to a teacher. “That’s insanely interesting. How do you know this?” I ask instead.“Conservatory. You’ll see for yourself, next year.”Conservatory. I drop my gaze and study my nails.“At Juilliard or Curtis or wherever you decide to go, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the lives of the composers. Who was in love with whom, who died of syphilis at age thirty-one, who had a morbid fear of the number thirteen . . .” Mr. Rossi hesitates, apparently noticing that I’ve checked out on this conversation. “You are a senior, right? That’s what it said on my class roster: ‘Beatrice Kim, senior.’ ”I nod.“Sorry . . . I simply assumed . . . So you’re not applying to conservatory, then?”“Nope.”“It’s just that I don’t run across people your age who can play the Schumann Fantasy like that. Or at all. You have ‘piano performance major’ written all over you.”“Thanks. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of . . . um . . .” Quick, make something up. “Pre-law.”“Pre-law?”My phone buzzes. I glance at the screen. It’s a text from Plum: I’m done. Where are you? Meet me out front.“I have to go,” I say, rising to my feet.Mr. Rossi glances at his watch. “Actually, so do I. I’m due at a meeting that starts—started—five minutes ago. It’s probably not good to keep Principal Oberdorfer waiting.”“See you in class, then.”“Yes. See you in class,” he replies. “Beatrice?”“Yes?”“The rest of the Schumann. Could I hear you play it sometime?” He sounds shy and hesitant, like he’s asking me out. My heart feels hot and fluttery.“I’m still working on it,” I murmur.“Good. I can offer you more unwanted advice, then.” He smiles, and I have no idea if he’s joking or not.I’d better start working extra hard on that last movement.