Are you going tonight? Dad asks.
I was planning to. It depends if they shut down the whole state on account of the snow.
It is approaching a blizzard, Dad says, pointing to a single snowflake floating its way to the earth.
Im also supposed to rehearse with some pianist from the college that Professor Christie dug up. Professor Christie, a retired music teacher at the university who Ive been working with for the last few years, is always looking for victims for me to play with. Keep you sharp so you can show all those Juilliard snobs how its really done, she says.
I havent gotten into Juilliard yet, but my audition went really well. The Bach suite and the Shostakovich had both flown out of me like never before, like my fingers were just an extension of the strings and bow. When Id finished playing, panting, my legs shaking from pressing together so hard, one judge had clapped a little, which I guess doesnt happen very often. As Id shuffled out, that same judge had told me that it had been a long time since the school had seen an Oregon country girl. Professor Christie had taken that to mean a guaranteed acceptance. I wasnt so sure that was true. And I wasnt 100 percent sure that I wanted it to be true. Just like with Shooting Stars meteoric rise, my admission to Juilliardif it happens will create certain complications, or, more accurately, would compound the complications that have already cropped up in the last few months.
I need more coffee. Anyone else? Mom asks, hovering over me with the ancient percolator.
I sniff the coffee, the rich, black, oily French roast we all prefer. The smell alone perks me up. Im pondering going back to bed, I say. My cellos at school, so I cant even practice.
Not practice? For twenty-four hours? Be still, my broken heart, Mom says. Though she has acquired a taste for classical music over the yearsits like learning to appreciate a stinky cheeseshes been a not-always-delighted captive audience for many of my marathon rehearsals.
I hear a crash and a boom coming from upstairs. Teddy is pounding on his drum kit. It used to belong to Dad. Back when hed played drums in a big-in-our-town, unknown- anywhere-else band, back when hed worked at a record store.
Dad grins at Teddys noise, and seeing that, I feel a familiar pang. I know its silly but I have always wondered if Dad is disappointed that I didnt become a rock chick. Id meant to. Then, in third grade, Id wandered over to the cello in music classit looked almost human to me. It looked like if you played it, it would tell you secrets, so I started playing. Its been almost ten years now and I havent stopped.
So much for going back to sleep, Mom yells over Teddys noise.
What do you know, the snows already melting. Dad says, puffing on his pipe. I go to the back door and peek outside. A patch of sunlight has broken through the clouds, and I can hear the hiss of the ice melting. I close the door and go back to the table.
I think the county overreacted, I say.
Maybe. But they cant un-cancel school. Horse is already out of the barn, and I already called in for the day off, Mom says.
Indeed. But we might take advantage of this unexpected boon and go somewhere, Dad says. Take a drive. Visit Henry and Willow. Henry and Willow are some of Mom and Dads old music friends whod also had a kid and decided to start behaving like grown-ups. They live in a big old farmhouse. Henry does Web stuff from the barn they converted into a home office and Willow works at a nearby hospital. They have a baby girl. Thats the real reason Mom and Dad want to go out there. Teddy having just turned eight and me being seventeen means that we are long past giving off that sour-milk smell that makes adults melt.
Excerpted from If I Stay by Gayle Forman Copyright © 2009 by Gayle Forman . Excerpted by permission of Penguin Group USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher
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No Man's Land
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