She walked into the music room, new to the elementary school. It was her third school in a year, and each change closed her off a little more.
The teacher waved her in. “Come, take a seat.”
She looked around the room. Other kids her age sat on the floor cross-legged. She felt awkward, joining class halfway through the school year and not knowing a single person again.
The teacher handed her a brown plastic recorder. “Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up.” She smiled at her new pupil.
The girl settled in quietly and looked around the room. Blue and yellow vests lined the wall on little hooks. The room was filled with some sparse decorations showing musical notes. The carpet was itchy on her chubby legs.
She wasn’t a remarkable person and no one would ever remember her. Each music day she’d sit, learn how to hold the little plastic music instrument and eventually even read some simple music.
The class would occasionally go on trips to play for audiences. Their uniform for performances included wearing those blue and yellow vests. But, she didn’t have one…the parents made them, or bought them, at the start of the school year.
“Don’t worry. We have a couple spares, you can wear one. Wade switched schools, you can use his.”
It felt like a hand me down. She was glad that one was available, but she felt like everyone was watching her every move as she slipped it on. She hoped it didn’t look too small with her little round belly protruding out.
The seniors at the retirement home always sweetly clapped at the end of their shows. She wondered if it was because they did a good job or because they were reminded of their own grandkids.
One rainy night the next school year, her class had another performance for the holidays. It was a hard night…people were running late and nothing flowed. When she arrived with her parents, the teacher discovered the vest loaned to her wasn’t there. Nothing was going right, and this little girl already had developed a need for perfection when it came to meeting expectations. Tears welled up in her eyes.
The teacher found another vest for her and calmed her down. A classmate she didn’t know had to miss the performance that night, so she was able to use his. She calmed down and dried the tears dotting her little cheeks. This was the first time he would save her from herself…and he didn’t even know.