Author:Andrea Randall & Charles Sheehan-Miles

Still, I smiled, nodded, and walked backstage.


Asshole. He knows I nailed it.


As I walked through the backstage door to the hallway, Nathan greeted me with a huge smile.


“So?” he exclaimed, holding out his arms.


Nathan was already a student here, but I’d known him for years. We seemed to follow each other around to various musical summer camps across New England since I was ten and he was eleven. He plays the flute, too, and encouraged me as I prepared for this audition.


Finally away from the stage, and the music, and the opportunity to screw anything up, I let some nervous tears fill my eyes as I smiled. “I killed it!”


“Yes!” he shouted, wrapping his arms around my waist and spinning me around once before kissing my forehead as he set me down. “I’m so proud of you, Savannah.”


I playfully smacked his shoulder as I started taking apart my flute. “What the hell was Gregory Fitzgerald doing in there? Doesn’t he have some first years to harass or something?”


Nathan’s playful hazel eyes widened. “What? He was?”


“Oh, of course he was. Why wouldn’t I have one of the strictest judges ever for the most important day of my life?” I rolled my eyes and placed my music inside my bag before zipping it, still feeling the effects of his crystal blue eyes as he studied my carefully chosen clothing. “I’m just hoping I don’t end up in an ensemble he organizes. He didn’t seem too impressed with me.”


“Ouch,” Nathan sighed, “did he thank you for your time, or anything?” He already had a conciliatory look on his face.


“No, he said we’ll be in touch.”


Nathan’s smile returned as he grabbed my shoulders and looked me square in the eyes. “Are you sure that’s what he said?”


“Um ... yeah. That’s what he said, with his little asshole wave.” I mimicked the hand movement as my stomach sank. Maybe I didn’t sound as great as I thought I did. Maybe that was all in my head and I really blew it.


Nathan squeezed my shoulders and smiled bigger than I’d ever seen him smile. “You’re in, baby. You’re in!”









“I’m glad we were able to put off this class until Madeline was teaching it.” Nathan stretched his arm across the back of my chair as we settled into one of our last required Music Theory classes.


It was spring semester of my junior year—his senior year—and while there was still a light covering of snow on the ground, since it was late January, I was thrilled to be taking a class with Madeline White. She was a flutist who I’d had the pleasure of working with off and on for the last few years, and she’d been my private instructor since I entered the conservatory. Most importantly, she shared some of the same liberal music theories we did.


“I totally agree. Our last two classes were painfully boring. At least we have a chance of staying awake this semester.” I chuckled and rested my head on his shoulder for a second.


Nathan and I are both natural flutists. That’s not bragging—it’s a damn relief. We were able to tackle harder note runs and the highest and lowest octaves before most of our peers, opening a wide range of opportunities for us when we got here on campus.


While our technical abilities might lead some to assume that we would spend our days digging through the vast historical music library to conquer pieces written before the founding of America, sometimes we did just the opposite. We played with the music. We took the gift we were each given and tried to make it fun, alive. I love the classical pieces, don’t get me wrong. There’s something chilling about playing pieces written during the middle of a plague when the world was falling to total shit. However, being able to take notes invented before certain cultures and languages, and turn them into something fresh and new was invigorating. White, we knew, felt the same way. While I knew we’d have to cover a lot of the nuts and bolts of music and scales and the way pieces were written, I was happy to work through the tedious material with someone as bright as Madeline. She always told us to call her Madeline while we were at camp, and I wondered if it would be the same in class.


“It’s ten after.” Nathan shifted in his seat. He can’t sit still for long. Which, by the way, is hilarious to watch him try to control during a performance. “Where the hell is she?”


Just then the door opened, and the class sighed in a mix of disappointment at having to stay in the class, and relief that it would get under way.


“What the hell?” I groaned as Nathan pulled his pencil out of his bag.


He sat up and looked to the door. “What’s he doing in here?”


It was Gregory Fitzgerald, smugness wrapped in a cello, from my audition three years prior. I had, obviously, gotten into the conservatory. Not only did I get in, I’d received glowing accolades from the judging committee upon my first few months here. From everyone except him, that is.