“Excuse me.” She dashed down the hallway, dodging friends and family, disappearing into the ladies’ room. She checked under all the doors. No feet to be seen. Entering the last stall, she held her hair back, and the dry heaves began. Nothing was left in her stomach to get rid of, as she hadn’t eaten much all day.
Collapsing on the floor, she leaned with her cheek against the cool of the tile-covered wall. She hugged her knees to her chest and tried to stop shaking. Why does this always happen? She had to face an even harder question, why did God lead her to go into music with stage fright? She forced herself to not cry. The last thing she needed was raccoon eyes.
She heard the door squeak open. “Connie? Are you ok?”
Connie stood and flushed while trying to compose herself before opening the stall. “Sure. I’m just dandy.”
Beth put her piano score on the shelf, to free her arms for a hug. “Aw, hun. I’m sorry. Nerve attack again?”
Connie nodded. “I thought I had it under control. I hadn’t had the shakes all week. Practice has gone really well. No hiccups even.”
Beth ran a paper towel under some cool water and handed it to Connie. “Do you want me to have them stall a bit longer? You still have about twenty minutes before you are supposed to start.”
“Maybe I should just change my major. Orchestra was the only place I fit in in high school. Now, I’m just a band geek who’s afraid to play. If I can barely breath, how can I play? I hate playing by myself!”
The door opened, someone walked in, gave an awkward smile, trying not to intrude.
Beth grabbed her music and her friend’s hand, pulling her toward the door. “C’mon.”
They walked through the lobby, which still had several people milling around that hadn’t taken their seats in the recital hall. Turning a corner, they walked down the corridor that had the practice rooms.
The piano bench screeched in protest as Beth pulled it out. She sat on the bench and pulled the lone chair over toward it, motioning for Connie to sit. “You love music, right?”
“You want to get rid of this stage fright, right?”
She nodded again, her breath catching a little as she continued to try to maintain control.
“Then we’re going to give it to God.”
The two girls bowed their heads and held hands as Beth prayed over her friend. “…and Lord, we ask that you remove this spirit of fear that has paralyzed Connie’s talent that You have blessed her with. We pray that You guide her as she continues her studies and that You will reveal Your plan for her life when the time is right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Connie hugged her friend. “Ok, I think I’m ready.” She glanced in the mirror on the door. “And my make up is still intact. That in itself is a miracle. But I have no time to warm up.
“No buts. You’re going to be fine. Let’s go.”
They both entered the backstage door, and the stage manager was looking panicked. He whispered, “Where were you? You’re next.” He held his hand out for their music.
Muffled applause came from the recital hall, that grew louder as the door swung open, and the first soloist came off stage.
The stage manager arranged the accompaniment on the piano, and then adjusted the chair and stand for Connie. He joined the girls back stage after closing the door. He mouthed, “Ready?”
Connie shook her head, “I forgot my horn!”
Beth tapped her on her shoulder, handing her the case. “I’d already brought it backstage for you.”
Letting out a deep breath, Connie took the case, and got her instrument out and took another deep breath. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
The door swung open, applause started as she walked to center stage and Beth stood at the piano. She took a small bow, and then sat down, adjusting the stand. Glancing back at her friend, gave a nod.
Beth began the introduction, Connie took a deep breath and released it through the horn and she felt the fear going out with it as she played the first note.
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