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The Solo

Home | Short (er) Stories | Warriors | Band Academy | The Ghost at East High

The Solo is a short story that I had to write for English class in 7th grade. It's about three girls, turning into moral enemies, just because of a solo in band.
 The term, 'That's/you're a dead squirrel' was made up by me and some of my friends, meaning that you don't like somone/something. I decided to incorperate that into the story as an inside joke between SophieAnn && Carly.
 The requirement also included pictures along with the story- so, without further ado, I present the awesome illustrations!!

 Wait, is that a quarter not? No, that’s a...or is it? Am I supposed to rest for two beats or one? Sophie tried to shake the worry from her system, but Kelsey’s turn seemed to take hours.


Briinnggg! The school bell was the first sound to fill the eerie hallway of Cobblecreek Middle School. It was soon followed by the violent thumping of feet, rushing franticly to the numerous rows of beat up, green lockers. SophieAnn Henson and Carly Clorence emerged from behind the wooden doors of Mr. Johns' 7th-grade math class behind a gaggle of laughing girls.
 SophieAnn was clad in a pair of plaid, pink-yellow-and-orange shorts and a matching, knit babydoll top; Carly sported the exact same outfit in shades of brown, yellow, and bright blue. Both girls had identical sets of snow-white flip-flops. As the friends entered the narrow, crowded hal, SophieAnn sighed in relief. Math was over...finally.
 "Math is such a dead squirrel," Carly used the term that she and SophieAnn had created. She swung open her locker, the only one in the row that sported a huge dent in the side. She thrust her head toward the small mirror on the locker door, finger-combing her shoulder-length, chocolate-colored hair.
 Sophie nodded in agreement, turning the lock on her own locker, two over from Carly's. Stuffing her purple binder in the already-crowded space, she quickly slammed the door before any of her textbooks could avalanche or any of her loose papers could explode all over the white-and-dark-green-tiled floor, like a zoo-full of wild bears. She proceeded to turn the black lock.
 Sophie walked over to Carly and waited patiently for her friend. One glance at Carly's perfectly-organized, spotless locker (besides the massive dent on the front) made Sophie snicker. Their lockers were complete opposites; Carly's had neatly-placed shelves with textbooks organized by period and graded tests organized alphabetically. Sophie's locker was filled to the brim with useless 1st-quarter homework sheets and tests.
 "Hurry up!" Sophie finally managed after a few long moments of staring into space, "We'll be late for baaaannndd!" she eagerly bounced on her toes as she recited 'band' in a singsongy voice. Carly stifled a giggle as she reverted her gaze to Sophie's less-than-quality performance, rising to her feet. She gently pushed her locker door shut, turned the lock, and followed as energetic Sophie down a short flight of stairs.
 They immediately made a sharp right-hand turn down a different hallway before coming face-to-face with a tall, dark wood door. In the middle of it in worn, black, all-caps letters, it read: 'BAND'.
 Sophie smiled to herself as the two of them entered the neatly-carpeted room. Band was the one class (besides lunch, of course) she actually looked forward to during the boring school day. The way the airy woodwinds combined with the deep brass section to form one combined tune, filled her with a sort of indescribable sensation. For once she could walk into class and actually do something she loved.
 Sophie and Carly weaved their way around their fellow 7th-grade band members to the instrument storage room where Carly picked up her hard, black alto saxophone case from a corner of the room. A piece of paper was taped to the wall in that particular part of the room, where 'Saxes' was scrawled sloppily in the middle. Sophie plucked her pink clarinet case from a wooden shelf on the opposite side of the room.
 Subsequently, the friends met just outside the instrument room to put together their instruments.
"What woo ou ink we're onna pactice ouday?" Sophie was already on the floor, reed in her mouth, forcing the lower joint and bell of her plastic clarinet together.
 "Huh?" Carly stuck a reed in her own mouth, comtemplating what her friend had just said. Sophie added the silver key-covered upper joint and barrel to her instrument and pulled the wet piece of wook from her mouth.
 "I said, what do you think we're gonna practice today?" Sophie reiterated clearly, sticking the moist reed between the silver ligature and back of the mouthpiece. She finished off by pushing the mouthpiece on top of the barrel.
 "Dunno. Long as it's not something boring..." Carly answered after adjusting the reed on her own mouthpiece, wedging in onto the main alto body.
 Waving to Carly, Sophie aligned the silver keys on her clarinet and walked to her assigned seat in the second row of folding chairs. Carly took her place near the other alto saxophones. 


 “Okay, band-” the band director’s (A.K.A. Mr. Brick) voice filled the somewhat large room, as the remaining instrumentalists quickly threw their instruments together and scurried to their seats, “I’ve got your new music to play at our contest. It’s called Pansies.” he lifted a stack of sheet music from a cardboard box as a round of muffled giggles arose.
 Sophie, wanting to act “professional”, didn’t make a sound. Pansies? What kind of name is that? She couldn’t help thinking, No secret-weapon song has the name Pansies. How am I gonna improve my skills if we have to play stupid ballads? 
 After the trombones, French horns, tubas, baritones, trumpets, saxes, bass clarinet, and bassoons had their parts, the director reached the clarinets. Taking her part, Sophie held her breath. She played first part, of course, so it couldn’t be too easy, right? Her hazel eyes intently scanned the 3-page song, full of eighth notes, sixteenth notes, quarter notes, half notes, and a few whole notes. Not bad. In fact, kind of challenging, Sophie said to herself. She smiled.
 Suddenly, her eyes locked on the dark, small print above a triplet; Solo. It was as good as hers. After all, she was second chair. The only thing standing between her and that solo was called Kelsey Seer. Kelsey was first chair, and not about to give up a valuable opportunity to the second chair clarinetist. 


 “SoooppphhiiiieeeeAaannn!” Sophie could feel the warm breath of someone whispering in her ear. She whipped her head around to a blonde in a blue Snoopy T-shirt.
 “What, Peyton?” Sophie whined, disappointed her moment had been ruined.
 “Did you see the muusssiiicc?”
 “What about it?” Sophie acted uninterested.
 “There’s a solo!” Peyton said in her high-pitched little voice. She played first part clarinet, too, but didn’t stand a chance against Sophie and Kelsey.
 “Yup.” Sophie pretended to shuffle the music in her band folder.


 “And I’mmmm gonna get it,” an irritated Kelsey popped out from the other side of Sophie, her words knifing through Peyton and Sophie’s conversation. Her extremely-light, brunette hair was pulled back into a small ponytail.
 “Says who?” Peyton shot back, narrowing her eyes as she leaned across Sophie to meet Kelsey’s eyes.
 “Doesn’t matter. I’m the best clarinet player in this whole stinking band, and there’s nothing you can say about that. How much do you wanna bet the solo is mine?” Kelsey rolled her eyes and gave Peyton a death glare.
 “Peyton and Kelsey! Do you want to start class, or not?” Mr. Brick bellowed. Sophie, Peyton, and Kelsey’s heads shot up. They hadn’t noticed the director looming over them like a hot air balloon, encasing them in his unhappy shadow. Even though he hadn’t mentioned Sophie’s name, his gaze toward her was just as menacing as his gazes toward Peyton and Kelsey; almost as if Sophie had started the whole outburst.


After a few silent moments from the entire band, Mr. Brick passed the flutes and oboes their music, and proceeded to his podium. He lifted his baton and gazed out to his players.
 “Let’s try sight-reading the beginning of the song, shall we?” as smile broke his stone look. Before anyone could lift their instruments up to their faces or the percussionists could position their mallets, Peyton’s hand shot up in the air like an airborne spaceship, “Yes, Peyton?” Mr. Brick sighed and lowered his baton a little.
  “Who’s going to play the solo?” she bit her lip in anticipation as she tapped the second page of Pansies in front of her on a black music stand.
 Kelsey.” he replied as if the answer was obvious. Kelsey grinned, leaning past Sophie once more to knock Peyton’s music off her stand.
 “Oops!” she said sarcastically as the flurry of papers scattered across the floor. She quickly scootched back into her chair.
 Sophie smiled silently. She was somewhat glad Kelsey was playing the solo now. That way, Sophie didn’t have to worry about messing up on a song she’d never heard before and embarrassing herself. But later, she’d get that solo, before the contest and show Kelsey how it’s done.

That night, SophieAnn practiced the entire song at the least, 15 times straight through, and practiced the solo to the point where she memorized the entire 20 measures. After she finished practicing, she fought the urge to call Kelsey and brag in her face-well, actually ear.
 But, why call someone you hate? Especially when they hated you back? Besides, Sophie didn’t have Kelsey’s phone number; Even though she could simply look in the phonebook…, Sophie shrugged and slipped her band music into her backpack for tomorrow.
 Two days later, on her way to her seat in the band room, Sophie softly kicked Kelsey’s shin and stuck her tongue out when she wasn’t looking. Making her way around her music stand, she set down her music and then sat down herself.
 “Okay everybody, get out Pansies,” Mr. Brick’s voice was as sharp as usual, but had a hind of humor. The shuffling of music filled the otherwise-quiet room. Sophie and Kelsey exchanged a casual glare, “Does anyone want to audition for the solo,
clarinets?” Peyton, along with all the other oblivious clarinetists gasped in utter
 Phrases like, “I’m not ready!” and, “What!?” and, “Are you serious?!” were passed between them.
 “Me, Meeee!!!” Peyton was, of course, the first one to reply.
 “I’ll try…,” Kelsey pretended to be unsure, and timidly raised her hand halfway in the air.
 “Me, too.” Sophie confirmed, gripping her instrument and tapping one of the pinky keys.
 “Anyone else?...Okay, Peyton, you go first. Start at measure 42. I’ll count you off. Ready? One...two…,” She doesn’t stand a chance, Sophie thought, That’s why he’s getting her over with.
 Out of the entire 20 measures, Peyton only messed up twice on sixteenth notes toward the middle. The whole band clapped politely as Peyton took a deep breath and let it out in relief.
 “Good, Peyton. Okaaayy, Kelsey; ready?” Mr. Brick also seemed relieved to be free from Peyton’s musical influence.
 Sophie shrugged as Carly peeked around the oboes a few rows back.
 “Are you nervous?” she mouthed, thumping her purple fingernails on her music stand.
 “I guess…,” Sophie mouthed back, with a shoulder shrug for effect. As Mr. Brick counted off Kelsey, Sophie snapped to attention and reverted her gaze to the spoiled brunette who had stolen the show. She started with a tone two times as clear as
Peyton’s and to Sophie, already sounded like a complete melody. As Kelsey played on, it finally hit Sophie, like a rubber percussion mallet.
 Her muscles tightened, her stomach lurched, and a lump formed in her throat like a vanilla Tootsie Roll. She was next. She finally decided to pick up her clarinet and to do a super speed version of the solo. She found the solo on the page ad fingered it. Suddenly, the notes grew somewhat blurry to her view, like she needed glasses or something.
 Wait, is that a quarter not? No, that’s a...or is it? Am I supposed to rest for two beats or one? Sophie tried to shake the worry from her system, but Kelsey’s turn seemed to take hours. Was it because Sophie was freaking out, or what?
 Clap, clap, clap.
 “Good job!”
 “Go, Kelseyy!”
 Sophie was roused from her thoughts as Kelsey was applauded.
 “Great, Kelsey! Now last, but not least, SophieAnn,” Mr. Brick was euphoric, “Ready?” his eyes were now on Sophie. She nervously held her clarinet to her mouth and nodded hesitantly.
 “One, two, three, four, one,”
 Sophie didn’t bother about playing the thing by memory, her eyes glued to the page. Luckily, this time the notes weren’t blurry at all. She tried to play the designated notes staccato, and emphasize dynamics the best to her ability at the moment. In the middle of the 20 measures, Sophie’s sweaty fingers slipped off two of the keys; though, the note was so fast, it was hard to tell at all.
 At the end, Sophie let down her clarinet with a deep breath out and a smug smile. Everyone was clapping for her just as loud as they had for Kelsey.
 Mr. Brick twitched his eyebrows and looked from Kelsey to Sophie, “I’ve decided…” Sophie held her breath, “To make the solo a duet.” Sophie and Kelsey exchanged glances again, this time, they glared and turned away.

“Everyone have their polo on?”
 “Yep!” the entire band said at once, gesturing to the Cobblecreek Middle School Band shirts they were wearing. Everyone was sitting in a semicircle in their normal band setup, Mr. Brick at the front. They were cramped in a small warm up room, practicing scales and long tone routines.
 After several minutes, Mr. Brick set down his baton and scanned the rows of
Enthusiastic instrumentalists nervously holding their horns. Making eye contact with each one, he announced, “Let’s get out there and play our best!” There was a round of clapping, as they rounded up their music folders and stuck the folders under their arms.
 Just as a few of the trumpet players were about to exit the warm up room, Kelsey crossed her arms defiantly, ruining the moment.
 “There is no way that I’m going on stage at a contest in public to play a duet with her,” Kelsey whipped her head in Sophie’s direction. Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing to watch Sophie’s reaction.
 “What?!” Mr. Brick glanced from Sophie to Kelsey and back again, “You can’t just-”
 Sophie crossed her arms in a similar fashion that Kelsey had, “What makes you think I want to do a duet with you?”
 “Whatt?!” Mr. Brick repeated, more shocked than before, “SophieAnn, this isn’t like y-”
 “Fine.” Kelsey said.
 “Fine.” Sophie repeated.
 “Fine!!” Kelsey turned away and casually picked up her clarinet music. Sophie just stood and watched.
 “Kelsey and Sophie!!! How can you guys just do that? You both wanted the solo didn’t you?” Mr. Brick’s stare hardened, and his voice grew louder. Kelsey and Sophie both nodded defiantly. Mr. Brick sighed, “You guys have left me no choice...have’ta go with plan B. Peyton, start warming up. It’ll take a miracle, but you’re all we’ve got…”

“Ready to have fun?”
 “Yeah!” the entire band erupted enthusiastically, while Kelsey and Sophie gave a monotone, “Sure.” Everyone got their instruments up, as Mr. Brick began swinging his baton, signaling the beginning of Pansies. The slow song turned into a march when the clarinet solo started-played by Peyton.
 It wasn’t as good as it could’ve been with Kelsey and Sophie, but it was better than her audition. As it neared the end, the rest of the clarinets entered. The brass entered next with a strong half note, quarter note, eighth note pattern. Flutes, oboes, and clarinets combined with them to produce the final note as Mr. Brick conducted the last fermata.
 The crowd went wild as the band stood and took a well-earned bow.
 “Kinda funny, huh?” Sophie turned to Kelsey and spoke loud to be heard over the screaming audience.
 “What do ’ya mean?”
 “We were fighting over this solo.”
 “Yeah? So?”
 “And neither of us got it.”
 “Yeah? So?”
 “Peyton did?” Sophie made it sound more like a question.
 “We fought for nothing.” Sophie raised her voice as the crowd clapped harder.
 “We did.” Kelsey smiled.
 “We did!” Sophie smiled.
 “Good-no, great job, band! Gather your music.” Mr. Brick beamed in pride.
 As they filed off the stage, Carly, Sophie, and Kelsey walked side-by-side all the way to the bus.
T H E   ♫ E N D