“Just hold the stupid orchid,” Sori said as she tried to spray the back of my head with the glitter hair spray. We had done her perfect hair with the spray and used the hot iron to smooth it out. She looked like a princess while I was the hairy beast.
I clutched the flower to my breast and grabbed the pin. My graduation cap was painted with purple glitter paint. “Class of 1988.” This was it. The last day of class was finally here. I had Violent Femmes on loud. They were yelling about a Blister in the Sun. Sori and I were getting ready. We had our gowns on. Big Marky was supposed to be picking us up soon.
My mother peeked in and smiled.
“All right, let me get the camera. You girls look great,” she said with enthusiasm. This was a big day for her. I was happy that she was here, but wish that my Dad could have seen it too. Thank goodness for Kodak.
I had my Doc Martens underneath the gown and Sori had her Converse hi-tops. We applied the right amount of gooey lip gloss. I had sprung for the long wear so that we wouldn’t have to carry any of it. The car horn beeped outside. Sori and I jumped, she stuck the orchids in my hair beneath the cap and we sailed outside with my Mom right behind.
Big Marky was in the car, but he got out to open the door for my Mom. It was his Dad’s Town Car, big and roomy. My Mom got in successfully managing to keep her hat from falling off. We climbed in and off we went.
When we arrived at the High School Auditorium, Gar and Loni were there, and he and I looked towards each other. There was an awkward moment, but I found the grace to smile. He waved. A new phase.
Our group sat down. We clapped for all of our friends as they were called. I received my diploma and took my picture, my Mom hugged me and cried. It was a moment. In that space, that precious instant, I had owned time and knew that all was possibility. Everything could happen, good and bad. I thought about what Big Marky had said and what my Mom had said and thought about the three part invention. My hands wanted to play. I waited.
After the graduation ceremony, there was a party in the gymnasium. All of the parents, students and teachers were walking around and a band was playing. The music was nice dance music. There were tables with snacks and cold soft drinks. It was clean and pleasant. The principal walked over to my Mom and I. I felt kind of uncomfortable, as if I had forgotten to complete an assignment or something.
“Hello, Eulalia,” he said and held out his hand for a shake. I shook his hand and thought that this was a movement into adulthood. “There is someone whom I would like you to meet, if you could come with me.”
“Can my Mother come,” I asked.
“Of course,” he said smoothly. “Did you know that your father and I had been in a band during our time here at Miami High?”
“No. I didn’t know,” I said with interest. I knew that my Dad played guitar, but my parents never talked about their lives much.
“We sure did. We were pretty good, too,” he said. “Now, it’s your turn.” We walked up to a two men in suits. “Who wears suits in Miami?” I thought to myself.
“Hello, Miss Justo,” the man with the blue tie said. “Here is a piece of music. Do you recognize it?”
“Yes, it’s a Prelude by Chopin,” I said. Blue tie suit man nodded to grey tie suit man, and he nodded back. “I would like to hear you play it.”
“No. I can’t play,” I started to say. My Mom grabbed my arm.
“Where can she play? She will be most happy,” she blurted out. It was those magnetic fields, I thought. They were now affecting my Mom, too.
“Mom!” I snapped.
“I will need to speak with my daughter for minute,” she said.
“You are resisting this because you are afraid. You have that piece memorized and played it for me all last summer. I remember it,” she said.
“That was different. You’re my Mom,” I said.
“No. I am an artist who has a daughter who plays the piano. You have to find your purpose, now. Like the man said. It’s your turn,” she said.
“But…” I began.
“Eh…” she raised her hand to look like the Pope giving a blessing or an admonition. There would be no more argument. I turned around and shuffled towards grey tie and blue tie. They led me back stage to a piano. I sat at the bench and closed my eyes while the blue tie suit placed the music before me. I opened my eyes and remembered what my Dad said about playing in front of strangers. Invite them into your heart.
I touched the B with my thumb and began. My left hand lightly touched the chords in time while my right sang and cried the melody. It was a sorrowful lament of love. My heart was in Gar’s hands. My heart was cracked. It was crying. I felt conscious of my pain and allowed myself to feel the anguish of losing a love that was supposed to have been forever. It was all on the keys.
As soon as it started, it ended. I was done, and I looked at my Mom. She had her hands together as if she was praying and the music that the rest of the school had been listening to flooded in. It was so alien to my sound that I felt like a canary in a fish tank. My Mom grabbed me. The suits walked over to the side. I heard one of them say, “See.”
“That was beautiful, Miss Justo,” said the principal. “Those men are scouts for a recording label. They are looking for an artist for a compilation of Chopin.” After he whispered, my Mom smiled at me and hugged me. She was radiant with joy as blue tie suit and grey tie suit walked back toward us.
“Congratulations, Miss Justo,” said blue tie suit man. “You have done well. We will be in touch with your family next week.”
I felt strange, and wonderful. I wanted to talk to Gar, but realized that this news might not be so great for him to hear. It sounded like it would hurt him. He and Loni had been playing local parties and clubs for two years. They had a logo, for crying out loud, and their own t-shirts. Could they be happy?