After the concert, the little girl sheepishly slinked her way up to the man in black. She held her first year piano book out to the maestro.
He stooped and uncapped his pen. “Do you play the piano?” he asked, scribbling his name in great loops and quick slashes on a corner of the thin book’s cover.
“I’m not very good,” she confessed.
“Well, there’s no reason you can’t be,” he said, taking her hand in his, running his thin thumb down her long slender fingers. “You’re made to play the piano.”
“My brother says I’m just noisy,” she said, eyeing her shoes and the immaculate marble floors of the concert hall’s grand lobby.
“Does your brother know more about music than I?”
Pink bloomed in the little girl’s cheeks and she squeaked out the faintest hopeful giggle, then covered her mouth with both hands.
“I know the secret to becoming a great pianist,” he said, bowing to one knee and leaning in. “Practice,” he whispered.
The girl pulled away, eyes wild with surprise.
“That’s all,” the man assured. “Practice this music. Every day, practice this. Instead of television, practice. In place of dolls, practice.”
The little girl’s jaw went slack as the pianist rose to his feet again and his voice began a great crescendo.
“Practice. Practice. Practice every page of this book! Every spare moment, practice!!!”
The girl was nodding along now, a smirk of a smile creeping up from her hopeful heart.
“And you…you, my dear, will be a great pianist one day. I promise.”
The little girl danced away, her piano book tucked under one arm, and did exactly as she had been told.
As many years passed the little girl grew less and less little. Her fingers longer. Her desire greater. Every day for countless hours, she practiced. Faithfully. Diligently. Exactly as she had been told.
Decades spent at the piano, and the stage still wasn’t hers. Her name was not known. No one was impressed by the woman who could perfectly play every note of a little girl’s piano book.