Can Kara achieve her dream? Can Richie help?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chapter 44

Kara peeked out to watch as people started filing in. Between parents and faculty, there was going to be about 100 people there tonight. The school was hosting this event as a way to thank the parents for their involvement and to raise awareness for the music program at the school, their own scaled-down version of Vh1’s Save the Music. They wanted the parents to realize just how important the music and art programs were for the children.

After her last class of the day Kara had rushed home, showered, grabbed a quick bite with Richie and changed before heading back. She ran her hands down the front of her dress. She had chosen the violet one she had worn on New Year’s Eve but was now second guessing herself. Too late now.

She ran her hand through her hair and peeked out front again. Her stomach was churning with each new face that came through the door. She took a deep breath and took Richie’s advice. She tried to picture each person in their underwear. She laughed at the images that ran through head and she felt mildly better.

The principal, Ms. O’Hagan found Kara pacing the hallway. “Nervous Kara?”

Kara looked up, “that obvious, huh?”

Ms. O’Hagan chuckled, “not too bad, other than the path you’ve worn in the floor. Listen will you do something for me?”

Kara nodded, “What do you need?”

Ms. O’Hagan smiled, “will you go out there and play the piano while the people are coming in and getting settled? I think it will make them more comfortable.”

Kara swallowed, “sure, I guess I can.”

Ms. O’Hagan patted Kara on the shoulder, “you’ll be fine. Thanks.”

Kara settled herself at the piano and start to play, trying to ignore the noisy hum coming from the room. She opened her eyes halfway through and looked around; nearly all the tables were occupied. She found Jon and Dorothea sitting with Jen and she had to smile. Jen must be flipping out right about now. Then she noticed that chair next to her friend was empty. Wonder where Dave is? She continued to peruse the room, noting the parents that she knew and the faculty members moving about.

What she didn’t see was the tall dark-haired figure standing in the shadows near the door watching her.

When the principal, Ms. O’Hagan, took the stage the crowd got quiet. “Good Evening and thank you all for coming out on this cold February night.” Ms. O’Hagan talked, telling the parents a little bit about the evening and the reason behind it. As she finished her speech she told everyone that there would be coffee and refreshments. “Now, I’d like to introduce our school’s
Music Director, Ms. Kara D’Angelo.”

As the principal finished speaking and before Kara came out, Richie snuck in and sat down next to Jen. “Have you seen her?”

Jen shook her head, “not yet. Shhh. Here she comes.”

Kara came out alone and approached the microphone. “Good evening.” She spoke for a few minutes about the importance of music in the schools. “Now, I’m also this evening’s entertainment. Sit back, relax and enjoy.”

Taking a breath she closed her eyes and started, unaccompanied.

Behold the way our fine feathered friend,
His virtue doth parade
Thou knowest not, my dim-witted friend
The picture thou hast made
Thy vacant brow, and thy tousled hair
Conceal thy good intent
Thou noble upright truthful sincere,
And slightly dopey gent

You're my funny valentine,
Sweet comic valentine,
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable,
Yet, you're my favorite work of art.

Kara opened her eyes and glanced around as she sang, her eyes landing on the figure sitting next to Jen. He’s here! She kept her composure and continued.

Is your figure less than greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
But, don't change a hair for me.
Not if you care for me.
Stay little valentine, stay!
Each day is valentine's day

Is your figure less than greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
But, don't change a hair for me.
Not if you care for me.
Stay little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine's day

The applause thrilled her and the looks on her fellow teacher’s faces spoke volumes. She looked over to where Richie was sitting, he was smiling broadly and when their eyes met he winked at her.

She continued, moving through Mariah Carey’s Hero and she brought out Jeffrey and Jason, the two high school boys to help her with Alicia Keys’ No One. After she flawlessly performed Michael Buble’s Everything she once again approached the microphone. “I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. I’m going to take a short little break. Please help yourselves to the coffee and refreshments.”

While Kara was gone Richie leaned over to Jon, “what do you think?”

Jon smirked at his friend, “I think Ms. D’Angelo’s days as a music teacher are numbered my friend.”

Kara came back out and sat at the piano while people were still milling about, getting their coffee and talking. She played quietly, motioning for Jeffrey and Jason to join her. She went into Daughtry’s What About Now while people were taking their seats.

As she hit the chorus her eyes met Richie’s. She was so glad he had found a way to be there, even if she was slightly irritated that he hadn’t told her. She sang to him, sang for him, hoping he could understand how much it meant to her that he was there.

What about now
What about today
What if you’re making me
All that I was meant to be

Richie smiled at her, he had known she was good, but tonight there was just something he couldn’t put his finger one. He had agreed with Jon that her days as a teacher weren’t going to last, but there was something else. He watched her, held her gaze when their eyes met, nearly sang along with her. Then, when she dragged her eyes from him and she perused the crowd, he knew. She had drawn everyone in. She had captivated them all. Jon had been right and how had he not seen it before?

Before she started her next number she spoke to the audience. “I have to thank Jeffrey and Jason. We weren’t sure we were going to have that last song down in time for tonight. They worked really hard the last few days and I think they deserve a round of applause for their efforts.”

Everyone applauded and Kara sat back down. “Everyone still with me? Ready for a few more?” After the applause died down she went into Faith Hill’s If My Heart Had Wings. She loved this song and sang it with gusto. She caught a few of her fellow teachers singing along and chanced glancing around the room. People were smiling and tapping their fingers, they’re enjoying it! She smiled as she finished and while she played the intro to the next song spoke to them again.

“If you know the words please, don’t be shy, sing along.” She went into Show Me the Way by Styx, another old favorite.

Jen leaned in and spoke to Richie, “what do you think, she’s great, isn’t she?”

Richie nodded his head, “she’s amazing.” Richie returned his eyes to the woman at the piano and she turned as if she knew he was looking for her. He winked as their eyes met and she smiled and sang the last part of the song to him.

Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that I’ll get there some day
Show me the way

At that moment, Richie knew he’d not only show her the way, he’d be there every step of the way.

When she finished she stood and once again addressed the crowd, “I’d like to once again thank Jeffrey and Jason for all their hard work these last few weeks. Without them, I don’t think this would have been as much fun.” She motioned to the boys, “thank you both for everything guys.” The crowd applauded as the boys left the stage and Kara sat back down at the piano.

“If you don’t mind, I have two more that I’d like to play for you tonight. I hope you have all enjoyed yourselves and realize the importance of the art and music programs in our schools.” She began to play Elton John’s Empty Garden. “Where would we be without music in our lives?

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It's funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what's it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we're crippled and we're dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I've been knocking but no one answers
And I've been knocking most all the day
Oh and I've been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can't you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he'd have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

Johnny can't you come out to play in your empty garden

She went right into Let It Be by the Beatles, never taking her eyes off the piano, letting the music flow through her and out her fingertips.

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

When Kara let herself look around, her eyes filled, everyone was singing along and when her eyes landed on Richie, the pride he felt for her was evident on his face and he too was singing along.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. Let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

As the last strains of the song filtered out into the room, the crowd erupted with applause and cheers. Kara looked up, almost startled by the response she got. She thanked everyone, stood and took a bow before leaving the stage.

The principal went out and thanked everyone for coming and bid them all a good night.

Kara moved through the crowd of people that had gathered and said her thank yous as they all congratulated her and expressed their surprise at the incredible talent she possessed.

When she made it to her classroom she closed the door and sat down in one of the student’s chairs. She couldn’t believe it. She had made it through the evening with no mistakes, the kids had been fantastic and everyone had seemed to enjoy it.

When a knock came Kara looked up to find Jen’s face pressed against the window. She waved her friend in. Jen opened the door and rushed her friend, leaving three other people in her wake.

“You were freakin’ amazing girlfriend. I knew tonight was going to be good, but Kar, you blew me away!”

Kara hugged her friend tight, “thank you so much Jen. You don’t how much that means.” She looked over her friend’s shoulder at the trio hanging by the door, “thanks for bringing Richie.”

Before she could move toward him, Jon and Dot moved in to congratulate her. Dot rested her hand on Kara’s forearm, “you were fantastic Kara. I think you surprised everyone with just how much talent you have.”

Kara blushed, “thank you very much. I had a lot of fun tonight.” She turned to Jon, “well? Sorry you wanted a sneak peek the other night?”

Jon took her hand, “not at all. I was very impressed tonight. We need to talk about getting you in the studio.”

Kara smiled, “can we at least wait until the next school break?”

Jon chuckled, “well I didn’t mean tonight.”

Kara squeezed his hand, “good. I’m beat.”

When the laughter died down Jon and Dorothea left, as had Jen. Kara was alone with Richie, finally. He closed the door and crossed to her, sweeping her into his embrace, “princess you were absolutely amazing tonight. I’m sorry I questioned you about those last two songs. They were perfect.” He didn’t give her a chance to respond. His mouth came down on hers and any thought of conversation was lost as their lips parted and their tongues met.

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