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The Rise of a Star (nonfiction piece)
I rose from the seat, tired, exhausted, but proud at what I had accomplished. The bright lights blinded me from viewing anything more than a yard in front of me. Even so, I could tell that the sea of people had risen. Was this a dream? I couldn’t believe it! How did I get here?
On a cold December morning, I pulled up to Cathedral Carmel. Representing Paul Breaux Middle, I strode across the floor to where my destiny awaited. There, in the middle of Cathedral Carmel’s gym floor, was a single piano—a digital—and even though I didn’t know it, it would change my life completely.
I sat down and began to play my “remixed” version of “The Flight of the Bumblebee”. I wasn’t nervous. Why should I be? This was only for fun and it’s just like any other competition, right? Wrong. This competition would bring me so much further than a regular competition.
Winning first place that day was just the beginning. I now had an opportunity to go on—to expand my horizons. Never did I second-guess my answer when they asked me to go to the state competition.
Eleven thousand people packed into the Cajundome as they were seated to hear me and my competitors play. I looked out to the crowd from my vantage point, but all I saw was an endless sea of people stretching to some place far in the distance. I wasn’t sure where it ended nor did I know if it ended at all. Backstage, I put on my gloves—trying to keep my fingers warm. I was nervous—not about playing in front of such a large crowd, but because I was afraid my fingers would freeze up. It was my turn. I took a hold of the gloves and flung them off, marching up onto the stage, tall and proud. I had made it this far and I wasn’t turning back now! I got to the piano and touched the keys, hoping for the best.
For the next three minutes, I was no longer at the Cajundome. I was no longer on stage. There were no longer eleven thousand people watching me. I was in my own world. I wasn’t playing for anyone in particular—I wasn’t even playing for myself! I was just letting the music flow from my fingers to the keys of the piano. Unaware of the people surrounding me, I played. Nearing the end of the piece, I increased in intensity—performing the notes with such emotion that I was starting to shake a bit.
I finished. I longed for more time to play, but the sound of applause awoke me from my daydream. I had snapped back into reality. And what did I hear and see? Eleven thousand students giving me a standing ovation. At that moment, I was complete. I had won first place at the Jr. Beta State Convention!
For the next few days, I was in awe. I just could not believe it! I kept asking myself if it had been a dream, but it never was. I was number one in the state of Louisiana. But this story doesn’t end there—that’s just the beginning.
Over the next month, I worked twice as hard to get my piece completely mastered as I, the first person in the history of Paul Breaux’s Jr. Beta Club to go to nationals, prepared to leave. A week before the national competition began, my parents and I departed for Nashville.
I was backstage of the Delta Ballroom, wearing a white suit, sitting. Calmly, I listened to the performances of my competitors, who were extremely talented. The audience was smaller than at the state competition, but strangely enough, it didn’t calm my nerves.
As I sat and waited, I thought of what could happen. What would happen if I won? And what if I were to lose? My thoughts were interrupted as they called number 5—me—up to stage. I rose hesitantly and walked across the stage, trying not to give away my nervousness. Six thousand people made eye contact with me at that moment. That was what made me go on. I couldn’t stop now! Not even if I was afraid of the inevitable. I had to keep going, bringing joy to these people who listened to me play.
I bowed and turned to the piano. The small digital piano from the district competition at Cathedral Carmel had transformed into a massive grand piano. I sat at the bench, barely pressing my fingers to the keys. This was it. My long journey was finally coming to an end. As the applause slowed, I began, my fingers pounding the plastic and ebony keys at an uncanny speed.
My body was in the real world, but my mind was again away. I felt as if I were the only person in the universe, playing my music. The three minutes of real time seemed to stretch forever in this other world. But I liked it, for it was in these three minutes that I completely relaxed, giving way to everything and anything that had happened before, just focusing on music. As I passed hard parts in the song, I knew that the end of this piece was drawing closer. And as I played the last chord of the piece, I was snapped back into reality. For a few seconds, I was confused as of where I was—and then I realized the people. But these people were not just clapping. They were hollering and cheering—for me! As I stood up, dozens of people at a time did the same. Bowing, I returned backstage to hear all of the stories of my competitors, amazed at what I had done.
Then, the hour drew closer—the awards ceremony.
“Special talent,” the announcer said. Mrs. Reamer, my parents, and I sat at the edge of our chairs. “5th place . . .” I was calm. I didn’t know what there was to worry about. “4th place . . .” I clapped for winners. “3rd place . . .” They haven’t called my name yet. Should I be afraid? “2nd place . . .” My heart is racing. The seconds ticked, but they ticked all too slow. The gap between second place and first seemed to be never-ending.
Then finally, “1st place . . .” she calls out. She holds for a dramatic pause—either that or she couldn’t read the name on the paper, I don’t know—and then, “Spencer Leger from Paul Breaux Middle School in Louisiana!” The crowd applauds as I make my way, shakily, to the stage where I claim my title as first in the nation—my heart swelling with pride and joy. I felt accomplished, finally relieved of all of the stress of the competition. It’s funny to think that a competition with no great importance, like the district competition, can have such tremendous outcomes.
Article posted October 17, 2011 at 12:15 AM •
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