“Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold.”
-“Fields of Gold,” Sting
“Bye, Hannah,” a violinist called out to her.
Hannah waved at him and dragged her cello out to her car. They had just
finished another successful matinee performance at the Kennedy Center. She loved
playing the free performances. There was none of that pretentiousness usually
seen at the other concerts and the crowd was always so diverse and interesting.
After loading the cello case into the back of her car she climbed in the
driver’s seat and cranked up the heater, letting the warm air unfreeze the
interior and waiting for her glasses to unfog.
She loved D.C., but it got colder and colder every winter. The weather
was starting to wreak havoc on her cello’s strings and wood. But at least she
was close to home and life was relatively uncomplicated.
She turned on the radio and hummed along to the symphony as she drove
home to her small apartment a few minutes away from the Kennedy Center.
Hannah quickly jogged up the steps, her cello in tow, and let herself
into the empty apartment. She was glad that the recent snow hadn’t frozen her
heater like it had done with some of her neighbors.
As she was microwaving her
frozen meal, the phone rang.
“Hello?” she asked, watching the seconds tick away on the microwave.
“Hannah? It’s Mom.”
“Hey, Mom, what’s up?”
“Well, I just got a call from the Grammy production committee and
Wright Entertainment Group,” her mom began.
Hannah racked her memory for the names. She was familiar with the
Grammy’s, of course, but Wright Entertainment Group didn’t ring a bell.
“What’d they want?”
“They’re putting together a full string orchestra for a performance
with ‘N Sync at the Grammy’s, “ Mrs. Coverly explained. “And they
received your name from a list of other talented musicians. They want you to try
out for a position.”
Hannah sighed, taking her meal out of the microwave and peeling the
plastic off. “Why should I try out? Mainstream pop isn’t my forte. And who
is ‘N Sync?”
“Look, Hannah, it can’t hurt to try. You’ll be paid and publicity
can only help,” her mother reasoned with her.
Hannah stirred the rice, thinking over her options. “You’re right,”
she finally agreed. “I’ll give it a chance and see what happens.”
The fans were out in full force, lining the streets in front of the music
hall where auditions were taking place.
Hannah glanced at them, wondering why so many teenagers were out so early
in the cold. I forgot how crazy New York could be. It felt good to be
back, though. Some of her happiest memories had been formed while in New York
studying at Juilliard.
She pulled her roll-along cello case behind her with one hand, and with
the other she pulled her coat tighter around herself. She had also forgotten how
cold it became in the winter up north.
A person carrying a violin case held the large glass door open for her up
ahead, and she smiled her thanks. The man nodded abruptly and headed off, not
sparing her another glance.
Hannah stood in the entryway of the music hall, completely lost in all of
the commotion. Musicians were everywhere, and the sounds of instruments being
tuned filled her ears. Dispersed among all the people who had come to try out
were official looking men and women with microphone headsets. They darted
through the crowd, speaking rapidly into their little microphones.
Hannah was surprised that so many people had showed up to audition. Who
is this group, anyway? I’ve never even heard of ‘N Sync.
She looked around for a friendly face, but she found none. Everyone was
caught up in their own business, and those who did glance her way gave her
She took a bolstering breath and went in search of the line for cellist
auditions. Come on, aren’t there any signs or anything?
After following some cellists only to be led to the restrooms, she turned
around in exasperation and ran right into another person.
“I’m sorry,” she immediately said. “Are you okay?”
The smaller girl in front of her steadied herself and smiled kindly.
“I’m fine, no damage done. Are you alright?” she asked, crouching down and
grabbing the bottles of water from the floor.
Hannah nodded and bent down to pick up the bags of chips the girl had
dropped when they collided. “Here you go,” she said, handing them over.
“Thanks,” the girl said. “Do you need any help finding your way? I
know that it’s kind of hectic right now.”
“To say the least,” Hannah laughed. “Where are the lines for
“Just go down this hall, take a right, and you’ll see all the
cellists,” the girl explained. “I have to be going now, but good luck!”
Hannah watched as she ran off down the hall, the chips and water hugged
to her chest. She wondered who that person was, considering she didn’t appear
to be trying out for anything. At least there’s one friendly person around
Taking a tighter grip on her cello case, she walked away in search of the
Lillian knocked quietly on the door of one of the many audition rooms
before letting herself in. She saw Justin and JC sitting along with some
adjudicators at a fold-out table in one of the corners of the room. She quickly
glanced to the center of the room to make sure she wasn’t interrupting
anyone’s performance. The violinist was tuning up.
“Sorry I’m a little late, I ran into someone,” she explained,
handing out the snacks and sitting down next to Justin.
“Don’t worry about it,” Justin said, slipping his arm around her.
“Nothing interesting happened while you were gone.”
“Did anyone in particular catch your eye?” Lillian asked JC.
He shrugged grumpily, continuing to stare blankly at the table.
Lillian sighed, seeing that he was still acting moody. Him and Bobbie had
gotten into another fight. Their off-and-on relationship was starting to get on
They sat quietly as the violinist played the piece of music with great
“Thank you,” Morgan, one of the adjudicators, said after he was done.
“We’ll call you.”
The violinist nodded and walked out.
“That was horrible!” Morgan exclaimed as soon as the door was shut
and they were alone. “It sounded like he was trying to kill his violin.”
The other adjudicator nodded. “I doubt he’ll be able to learn how to
work with a group. I bet he’s too used to solos.”
Morgan put the violinist’s contact information in the large pile of
papers destined for the trashcan. “Well, gang, that’s all for us. We’re
“We’re gonna go sit in on some other auditions,” Justin informed
Morgan nodded. “Go on, we’ll try to figure out this whole mess.”
Justin got up and nudged JC, who was still sitting like a stone in his
chair. “Come on, man, let’s go find Joey and Chris.”
JC sighed and stood up, allowing himself to be led out of the room.
“This day is too long,” he complained.
“It’s only ten,” Lillian replied. “The day’s barely even
“Exactly,” JC groaned.
“It’s okay,” Lillian said soothingly, rubbing his shoulder. “We
can leave as soon as the cello auditions are over.”
They went into another room and joined Chris and Joey at the long table.
JC immediately dropped into one of the chairs and put his head down. His four
friends exchanged concerned glances.
Joey was about to ask JC a question but Lillian handed him a bag of chips
so JC wouldn’t be bothered. Right now, he needed some peace.
“Thanks!” Joey grinned, ripping the bag of Fritos open. He pushed
Chris away, who was reaching over his shoulder to help himself to some food.
“Back off, get your own!”
“Shh,” Justin whispered, seeing that the cellist was ready to play.
They obediently quieted down enough to pay attention, or at least pretend
they were paying attention.
After a few more auditions, even Lillian was getting a little bored. It
was monotonous, listening to the same thing over and over.
The door opened again to admit another cellist and she perked up. It was
the girl she had run into in the hall. Lillian could tell that she was nervous.
Hannah sat down in the lone chair and quickly tuned her instrument. She
surreptitiously rubbed her hands on her jeans, feeling her palms get damp. She
always got nervous before an audition, and this was no exception. After she
finished tuning she sat back in the chair and glanced around the room.
At the table were two older, distinguished looking men, three younger men
and one dark-haired man with his head down, and a woman. She looked closer at
the last person. It was the girl she had bumped into in the hall.
The girl smiled at her, and she smiled tensely back. Hannah was grateful
for a familiar face, but in her anxiety she didn’t have time to dwell on it.
“You can begin,” one of the adjudicators said.
She took a calming breath and began the piece. After the first five
measures, she was able to lose herself in the music. She stopped over-thinking
everything and let instinct take control. Just as she reached the second page
the judge stopped her.
“Thank you, we’ve heard enough. We’ll call you.”
Hannah was startled and stared at him. Then she broke out of her daze and
stood up, whispering a quick thank you before leaving the room. Did I mess up
or something? What went wrong? It’s okay, Hannah, you’ve heard stories of
people getting stopped at auditions. But I’ve never been stopped
She was disappointed. She had failed. Sure, she hadn’t really cared
about the job one way or the other, but rejection was still rejection. She hated
As she emerged in front of the other cellists still waiting in line she
put on a fearless expression. She wouldn’t allow them to see how upset she
Hannah walked past them in the narrow hallway, holding her cello in front
of her. Maneuvering through the cases and bows strewn on the floor, she didn’t
notice the man heading towards her until they made contact.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you,” he immediately said.
Hannah nodded. Why do I keep running into people? She looked into
his light green eyes. “It’s okay.”
He caught sight of her cello. “Are you here for auditions?”
“Yes, I already auditioned,” she answered.
“Great. We’ll call you,” he assured her, smiling.
Hannah scoffed at the same line hapless musicians were fed at every
audition. “Look, we both know that’s a big lie. I honestly don’t care if
you call me or not. This isn’t my thing, anyway.”
She quickly stepped around him and left. For an instant she regretted her
rashness. He wasn’t mean or anything. Just because you’re disappointed
doesn’t mean you can snap at him. Then she shook her head. At least now
she could go back to the hotel and forget about her failure.
Lance stared after her, confused and taken aback. Did I say something?