Eight had sucked but Nine was much worse. The only good thing that happened during Nine was Mrs. Jorgenson. I worshipped this kind and gentle woman with the soft, flowing skirts. She actually acted as though she genuinely liked me.
Or at least she faked it really well but if that’s what she was doing, I didn’t care. It still felt wonderful.
“Did you have a good week?” she asked in honeyed tones every Saturday morning, opening her front door and greeting me with a warm smile. From the day I had the good fortune to meet her, I noticed that her soulful eyes always seemed to be smiling, too.
“Yes, thank you,” I said as I put my music books down and took off my shoes.
“Did you have any trouble practicing?” she asked, putting her arm around my shoulders as I came in, her affectionate gesture welcome, desperately needed, but awkward and unfamiliar. I was aching for her to give me a proper hug while at the same time being terrified that she would. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with hugs.
“No, thank you, it was fine,” I replied, obviously distracted. I bit my lip and stared at the floor, wondering if I should tell her the rest. Having taught myself for five years, I wasn’t sure what the rules were for proper lessons.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” she asked, wearing a genuinely concerned expression. It was what I thought “motherly” should look like.
Oh, dear, I couldn’t bear it if she gets mad at me!
I hesitated. Then had no choice but to say it. The words fell out of my mouth in a rush, one after another. “I love this new book so much, I went ahead of where we were and learned a couple more songs.”
I held my breath, waiting for an assault of angry words and harsh criticism.
“Oh! Lovely!” she exclaimed, surprising me. “You’ll have to play those for me! Good for you!”
Much relieved, I scrambled up on the bench, delighting in a half-hour of warmth, peace and another music lesson, the highlight of my week. I should have known by then that…