The incessant ringing of Sally's alarm roused her from her sleep. Mumbling incoherently, she slapped the clock lazily with her hand, not wanting to leave the warmth of her bed just yet. Only half awake, she watched the second hand on her analog clock spiral through the slits in her eyes.
She hadn't slept well. It seemed to be a recurring theme as of late. Nights filled with dreams she couldn't remember, waking her in the night and haunting her during the day. Sally slowly crawled out of bed, disabling the alarm instead of waiting for the snooze to wear off. It was a good hour before school started, but she wanted to leave as soon as possible. Her mother had had visitors over last night, and there was no guarantee they would be sober when they woke up.
Sally fixed herself in her mirror, binding her long black hair in a ponytail and slipping thin wire framed glass in front of her blue eyes. After quickly dressing and slipping a stack of Staff Paper into her book bag, Sally descended the stairs and made for the front door. On her way, she made note of the casualties.
Vase, coffee table leg, stained carpet… she thought to herself as she opened the door. Aaaaand the Ficus. A small Nissan was parked on the lawn outside, having apparently missed the driveway and hitting their only potted plant.
Off to school, Mom… she imagined in her head. Not wanting to wake her irritable mother and her house guests, Sally still found herself going through the mental thought process of a normal teenage girl living with a responsible parent. It wan't something she decided to do, she just… did. Sally guessed it stemmed from wanting to be normal, even if it was only a delusion.
As she walked down the sidewalk, Sally hummed to herself. Her tune. The same one she always sang, played, hummed, and whistled. It was her masterpiece. She'd made it herself during music class, and it had stuck with her. Gradually, the song got longer, with more parts, a longer theme, and several revisions, but it was still hers. A song all her own.
Her dream was to be a composer, to write music along with the greatest names in the business. Haunting melodies, exciting overtures, heart pounding movements… Sally wanted to write it all.
Small steps, she smiled to herself as she hummed. It all starts with this tune, and the paper it's written on. Soon enough…
Here and there, Sally spotted other students, easily identified by their humongous backpacks. These were the early-goers, the unpopular crowd who made the effort to arrive early for the peace and quiet. Most ended up in the Library, enjoying the solitude of a book or getting a head start on their studies. Sally, however, had her own idea of solitude.
As they approached the campus, instead of following the others on their way to the Library, Sally cut across the Teacher's parking lot, towards the music building. The front door, unlocked as always, gave way to a large choir room, with rows of chairs lining the ground and rows of amplifiers lining the ceiling.
In the center of the room sat a Steinway Grand Piano, who's care and maintenance had been closely monitored by the head of the music department since he'd arrived at the school nearly thirty seven years ago. The tones were so ingrained in the piano, a note would continue to sound lightly for a full minute after being muted.
Sally pulled the stack of Staff Paper from her bag, and set it on the piano. She was writing the part for the trumpets today. She could hear the music in her head. The problem was getting it onto paper. Sally established her melody, repeating it several times in her head before searching for the matching keys on the piano. As she found the right notes, she transposed and transcribed them on the Staff Paper.
Getting lost in her work was a normal occurrence for Sally, and since no one ever disturbed her, she never had to worry about interruptions. Today was different. The door of the music building opened, and the bitter sweet sound of girl talk reached Sally's ears. Three girls entered her line of sight, and she did her best to ignore them.
"Is that Sally?" one asked out loud. She was redheaded, and Sally mentally assigned the hair color as her identifier.
"Hi Sally," another greeted sarcastically, this one brunette. "It's great to see you."
"Likewise," Sally mumbled under her breath.
"Is this what you're working on for the music festival?" the blonde girl who seemed to be leader of the three spoke up. She stepped up to the piano from the side opposite Sally, grabbing a few sheets of her music. "This looks pretty beat up. And it smells." She scrunched her face and tossed the papers back to Sally.
"My mom spilled beer on it," Sally replied in a low voice.
"Well, don't sweat it," Mean Girl replied. "You're not going to win anyways. We've been working on our trio all summer. Over seven months of planning for this competition. I bet you threw that together over the weekend, right?"
Sally muttered so low she couldn't even hear herself.
"Uh… what was that?" the Mean Girl asked her to repeat.
"Three years," Sally spoke a little louder. "Since freshman year, I've been working on this."
Sally's statement caught the girls off guard, obviously, as they had nothing to say for a good ten seconds following. She let herself smile a bit, very pleased with their reaction.
"Well, we'll see, I guess," The leader stated before turning to leave. The sound of their heels on the ground faded as they retreated to the door, then down the hall. Satisfied with her work for the day, Sally packed up her music and closed the piano, taking care to wipe off her fingerprints, in respect.
Sighing audibly, Sally exited the music building and proceeded to her first class. Just another day...