Sabrina and the Dragons
Miss Smith called the eighth grade gym class to order. “Today we are going to play dodge ball. Kari and Joyce will be the team captains. Everyone else line up, and Kari and Joyce, you come up front and take turns picking team members.”
Kari stood next to Joyce and wondered just how many students were here today. If she went first would that mean she was stuck with Sabrina, or should she offer to go second. Before she got a chance to count students, Joyce made her first pick. Great thought Kari, Joyce probably already figured it out. Kari looked over her classmates and did her best to avoid spotting Sabrina. She just stands there in the back without a friend in the world. How can she be so clueless? And she has no fashion sense either. Look at those glasses! And that haircut! Gads, there is no one left to pick. Kari just pointed at Sabrina and turned away, hoping that maybe the rest of the team could manage the win and just maybe Sabrina wouldn’t wreck everything.
“Listen up. I had to pick you but you aren’t going to lose this dodge ball game for us,” said Kari.
“I’ll try,” said Sabrina.
“Trying won’t cut it. Now stay in the center and maybe the other team won’t hit you.”
“Okay” Sabrina mumbled.
After a few minutes, Kari said, “You’re tripping us all up. Winifred just got knocked out, and she’s one of our best players.”
“I’m really sorry,” Sabrina whined.
“New plan. Get out in front and try to get hit. With you out we stand a much better chance. Now move it.”
But every time the ball was thrown at Sabrina, she ducked in fear and someone else got hit.
Kari called time out and then, “You really are a klutz. Stand right behind me. When the ball is thrown at me, I’ll skip aside. Just don’t move.”
The game resumed and sure enough, the first throw went right at Kari who dodged out of the way. Sabrina screwed her eyes tight shut and didn’t move. The ball hit her on her right thigh. As she left the game, Kari said, “Okay, guys, now we can concentrate.”
Sabrina sat down on the sidelines away from the other tagged players and stared at the floor rubbing her thigh where it still stung. “I hate gym.”
Once class ended Sabrina grabbed her backpack and headed off to French. The only thing worse than gym is French, she thought as she entered the classroom. Finally school was over and as Sabrina rode the bus home she thought about asking her father for piano lessons. She really wanted them but she knew he would say that she hadn’t any talent. Did that matter? She just wanted to play.
She knew her father was still hurting from her mother’s death seven years ago. She felt responsible for the fire. Her mother wouldn’t have been alone if she had been able to keep Brittany quiet, but she was only five and Brittany was already a handful, even at three. Sabrina knew that was why her father was so harsh with her. But did that mean she couldn’t ever have something nice, like piano lessons? As she got off the bus and walked home, she decided that she would just have to try. Brittany argued with their father all the time, but she could never speak up for herself. Well, today would be different.
Sabrina walked into her father’s office and stood in front of his desk, quietly waiting for his attention.
“What do you want? Can’t you see I’m busy?” he said.
“Please, Father, may I have piano lessons?” she asked quietly.
“No, of course not,” snapped her father.
“But why? Brittany gets them and she’s younger than me.”
“Than I,” he corrected, “And she has talent. Her teacher is sure that she will do extraordinarily well. In just a month she has progressed faster than any student he’s ever taught. So get out of my office.”
“But,” started Sabrina.
“But nothing,” he snarled. “You can’t even carry a tune. You’d only be a failure and I couldn’t stand to hear you practice.”
“I’d only play when you weren’t home,” she pleaded.
Then he stood up and started fingering his belt as he growled, “I said, “NO! Now get out of here and don’t ever let me hear you ask again.”
Sabrina raced to her bedroom, sobbing. She flopped onto her bed and cried, glad that Brittany was not in the room. When she calmed down a bit she thought, I’ll find a way, I will. He can’t say no. There has to be a way.
She thought long and hard and then came up with her plan. She’d already taken to sitting in the corner of the living room farthest from the piano during Brittany’s lessons. She pretended to read, but she was actually listening and taking notes. Thankfully Brittany had just started lessons a month ago, and she still had the beginning books. Her father was right that Brittany had a talent she would never have. But Brittany almost never practiced. Sabrina wouldn’t be like that. She devised a scheme where she would practice every day right after school when she was the only one home.
It was hard to teach herself, but she wouldn’t give up. The day she finally played her first song with all the right notes and fingering was the best day she could imagine. So what if it was just “Twinkle, Twinkle.” She played it and she played it right.
She continued to teach herself, being very careful that no one was home when she practiced. But of course, after several months, the inevitable happened. Her father came home early and she didn’t hear him. The next thing she knew he was storming into the living room yelling, “I told you that you couldn’t play the piano!” as he moved to unclasp his belt.
Sabrina was never sure how she managed it, but she turned to her father, took a deep breath, and said as calmly as she could, “No, Sir. You said I couldn’t have lessons.”
There was absolute silence in the room. Her father’s mouth hung open. Then he refastened his belt, turned, and stomped out of the room.
Sabrina put a trembling hand on the edge of the piano as she just sat there. Suddenly she was filled with a warmth, a glow, which spread throughout her entire body, and she smiled.