Authors: Amelia Jones
Swanson Sisters Series: Book 1
A New Adult College Romance
The last notes of Bach’s
‘Partita in D Minor’
died away as Sophie gently lowered her bow and brought her violin to a resting position, the haunting notes still playing in her mind.
‘You will never be a solo performer, Sophie. You play well, have excellent technique and I cannot teach you any more than you already know. We have spoken of this before, yet no matter how many times you play that piece flawlessly here with me, you will never replicate the experience in a concert situation. You know this. I know this. We will work on ensuring you pass your Associate exams, then you should consider teaching violin as a career, or even classroom teaching.’
Sophie didn’t want to hear anymore. She knew it all already and her teacher wasn’t being intentionally unkind, just realistic because the time for a serious decision had arrived. Without a performing career to embark upon, she would no longer have a reason to stay at college. It would mean returning to her hometown, to the family she had left behind in her quest to make a new life for herself.
The sound of defeat echoed in her voice. ‘Yes, I understand. It’s just I never wanted to be a teacher. My parents wanted me to become a teacher but I never did.’
‘Listen Sophie, you would make a very good teacher and it’s a job you can make your own, particularly if you teach privately. If you spent one more year here and did a Diploma of High School Education, as well as another couple of grades with piano and flute, you would have everything you need to teach theory and three instruments. Not everyone has the ability to do that and be successful at it. But you do. Take it and work with it. It’s your best option. And you know I would of course, welcome you to be part of the ensemble for our Baroque work. You have real talent for that.’
He hoped he had convinced her because he genuinely wanted her to join the ensemble, for at least a full year, with a view to staying on in Armidale as a teacher afterwards. Maybe even teach violin and some regular classes here at the University because the qualifications would all be in place.
Sophie began to pack her instrument away, wrapping her violin in a piece of deep crimson colored velvet. ‘Can I think about it for a while?’
‘Of course, I’d be disappointed of you didn’t. But don’t take too long. I don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity. There will be a teaching vacancy here in the music faculty, the year after next and I want you to be in a position to consider it.’
‘All right, I’ll give it some serious thought and let you know. I’m staying here through the semester break to do the research for my final projects for Professor Anderson, so I’ll let you know what I decide.’
‘I know it’s hard to give up your dream of performing, but I want you to focus on an alternative that can provide you with the ability to be independent, anywhere you choose.’
‘Thank you Mr. Lorenz. I’ll see you next semester.’
Sophie left the music faculty building and walked towards the lecture theater for her next class, psychology. It was an extra class that she hadn’t really wanted to take, but her degree program specified that it was necessary for a sprinkling of other classes to be included in addition to those for her double music major. She walked in and sat at the back, wanting to remain inconspicuous with her violin.
While she waited for the class
to begin, she thought about the conversation she’d just had with her violin teacher. Disappointment weighed heavily on her shoulders, so that she slumped. It seemed that no matter what she did, it was never good enough and the discussion she’d just had with her violin teacher confirmed it. He’d never know the real reason though, no one knew that.
‘Hi, do you mind if I sit here?’ A polite, but tentative male voice was asking and Sophie moved slightly away in her seat to indicate her consent.
‘I didn’t mean to disturb you, but I’m out of my depth in this class. It’s an extra that I have to take and I thought I’d be out of the way back here.’
Sophie turned and looked at him, surprised that he was here for the same reason as she was. ‘Me too.’ She wasn’t about to offer anything else.
Sophie was naturally diminutive in stature with a mop of curly, shoulder length hair. Her blue eyes looked a little nervous as she met a stranger.
‘My name is Jack. I’m doing a Natural Resources degree and this is my last year.’ He was a big lad, broad through the shoulders with the ruggedly handsome looks of someone who was right at home in the outdoors. Like many of the farmers around town, he was dressed in jeans, a checked flannel shirt and boots.
Sophie had time to say, ‘I’m Sophie,’ before the lecturer fronted the class and silence descended over the room.
Sophie and Jack both reached for notepads and pens as the lecture detailing the ins and outs of psychology, began.
Sophie found the lecture fascinating and listened, riveted to the words coming out of the lecturers mouth.
Maybe this class is going to help me understand myself better, and why mom and dad are so screwed up too. Not that it would make any difference to them. It could make a difference to me though.
She thought to herself.
From where he was seated, similar thoughts were echoing in Jacks mind and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the class was over. Sophie and Jack remained in their seats while the remainder of the students bustled out the door.
‘That was amazing,’ said Jack. ‘I think I’m going to get a lot out of this class after all.’
‘Me too,’ replied Sophie, hoping he wouldn’t think she was a complete klutz for repeating the only words she’d spoken since he’d sat next to her.
‘Look, I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just I’m not a natural conversationalist, especially with strangers.’ She hoped he understood what she was trying to say.
‘I’m not so good myself, to be honest. I usually prefer my own company too.’ Jack was surprised to find that Sophie felt that way.
Then he decided to go out on a limb.
‘Umm, please don’t think I’m coming on to you or anything and you can say no, I won’t be offended. Would you like to come with me to the wine bar in town tonight? A few mates from Nat Res have formed a bush band, it’s actually a lot of fun, and they’re playing tonight for free beer. They’re rough as-.’
‘Yes,’ Sophie blurted before she thought about it too much and said no. ‘I’d like that. I’m a classical musician and it would probably be good for me to experience a different style of music.’
‘Are you for real?’
‘Yes.’ Sophie held up her violin case. ‘I need to go now, if that’s OK.’
They stood up and slowly walked outside the lecture theatre.
‘I’m staying in Drummond College,’ Jack said.
‘I’m at the Claude Street Flats.’
‘I know it will be cold, but do you fancy walking into town? I could meet you at 6.00 pm by the bus stop on University Avenue if you’re up for it. It’ll take about half an hour to walk into town and we could hitch a ride back later with the band. Most of them are in Drummond too.’
‘Well I don’t usually go out but, OK, just this once. I’ll meet you at the bus stop then.’
He flashed a smile, which lit up his features. He looked ruggedly handsome and Sophie caught her breath at the transformation.
‘Great. I know you’ll enjoy it. Having fun is easy when you know how.’
She gave a small wave and turned to go. As she walked away, she wondered why he would say something like that.
Sophie started the walk back down University Avenue, feeling uneasy and wondering if she’d just done something completely stupid. She didn’t date and spent her evenings studying, practicing or reading. Her flat-mates had become used to her solitary ways and accepted her as she was, with the understanding that everyone wasn’t the same. They never asked questions, but it was as if they looked out for her and it was something for which she was grateful.
Part of her unease was due to her uncertain future after she left college and together with the fact that she’d agreed to go out with a total stranger.
She stopped and took a deep breath, suddenly feeling out of her depth. She let it out slowly and continued walking.
‘Hi Sophie,’ said Jane, one of her flat mates. ‘You’re home early.’
Sophie had been so lost in her musings she hadn’t realized she’d arrived home.
‘Hi Jane, yes I thought I’d have a rest from it all for a bit. I’m going out tonight and need to find something to wear. I hate fussing about with that sort of thing.’
‘Let’s have a coffee and you can tell me all about it. Maybe I can help you with the clothes.’
Sophie flashed a grateful smile at Jane. One of the things she really liked about the other girl was that she knew exactly how to help Sophie without making her feel awkward.
Sophie sat at the dining table and Jane brought the coffees. ‘Let’s go to my room so we won’t be disturbed.’
‘Oh, that would be great, thanks Jane.’
Jane sat on her bed while Sophie took the chair at the desk.
‘So where are you going?’ asked Jane, ‘because that will have a lot to do with what you wear.’
Sophie scratched her head. ‘I have no idea why I agreed to the date. That was such a stupid thing to do.’
Jane smiled gently, ‘Don’t say that, Sophie. I know you’re worried about what to wear, but I’ll take care of it. Just let me know where you’re going.’ She soothed.
‘The wine bar in town. A guy in my psychology class asked me to go. He seemed as out of place as me in there so I figured I’d be OK. We’re going to walk in. Apparently he has some friends who are in a bush band and they are playing there tonight.’
‘Well that’s a great place to go. It’s not really formal and heaps of people from the Uni hang out there, so you won’t need to dress up at all. In fact, the jeans you have on will be fine and I have a black cashmere sweater that would look great on you. Your boots will be fine too.’
‘Really, that’s it?’ She was surprised. She’d expected more of a fuss about what to wear and all that. ‘It sounds easy when you say it like that.’
‘It is easy. You’re just not used to going out. Who is this guy anyway?’
‘His name is Jack. He’s doing Nat Res and lives over at Drummond. He seemed like a nice, quiet guy.’
As she spoke, Jane stood up and went to her closet. She rummaged inside and came back with the black sweater.
‘The Nat Res guys are generally a great bunch of boys. Most of them come from farms. I’d say you’ll be pretty safe. What’s with walking into town though? It’ll be cold and you’ll need your coat over the top of the sweater.’ She threw the sweater at Sophie as she spoke.
Sophie held the sweater and reined in a sigh. ‘This is so beautiful.’ She said, caressing the soft folds of the fabric. Then she replied to Jane’s question. ‘I know it’s going to be cold. He even mentioned it. I wonder why he chose that though.’ She thought aloud. ‘Maybe it was his way of trying to tell me that dressing up wasn’t going to be necessary.’
‘Well, he could have just told you that.’
‘I got the feeling that he wasn’t much of a talker.’
Jane laughed. ‘Well there you go then, how perfect is that?’
‘I hadn’t really thought about it, but yes, you’re right. Maybe it’ll be OK after all. Thanks for the help, Jane. I might go and read for a while now.’
Jack couldn’t believe his luck. What were the odds of being with a very beautiful girl, who didn’t even know she was beautiful, at least that was the impression he got. Her natural reticence, the way she slumped her shoulders forward told him more than words ever could. Even choosing to sit at the back of the class, seeking to be unnoticed, spoke volumes. He wondered what could have happened to make her lose so much confidence in herself. Instinctively, he knew that bad stuff had happened to her, but he’d never ask her about it unless she raised it first.
He smiled briefly. He wasn’t into psychoanalysis, he didn’t even want to do that course in psychology, but when one had gone through the terrible times that he had, and had the scars to show, then one became naturally wired to notice the wounds in others, even if they were on the outside and not on the back like his.
Thinking about the scars he wore on his back took him back to the major problem looming in his life now. He was in his final semester and his dad wanted him back on the farm. He had no problem with farming, or with being on the farm, but he had a very major problem with his dad. College had been his escape from the man’s meanness and going back there would be the last resort for him. He needed to line up a job as soon as possible.
He shook his head to dispel the bad memories. He was not going to worry about getting a job or going back to the farm, he decided. He would cross that bridge when he got there. Right now, he needed to concentrate on getting ready for his date with Sophie.
He paused then and frowned slightly. No, it wasn’t a date exactly…just an outing between two potential friends. Yes, that sounded much better. He didn’t date and he wasn’t about to start now. What was the point? He had nothing to offer anyone, least of all a talented beauty like Sophie. She reminded him a bit of his Mother although the thought of anyone doing to Sophie what his dad had done to his mother had him clenching his fists. His mother, whose mind and body had been beaten so badly that she’d had to be sectioned. She was still in a mental hospital, her mind totally gone.
He felt the familiar pain in his chest that thinking about his mother brought. He tried to shake it off and focused instead on Sophie. She had blond, unruly curly hair, deep blue eyes, was diminutive and self-possessed. The physical features were where the resemblance to his mother ended. Even though Sophie could do with some more confidence, she didn’t look like she had trouble standing up for herself. And most important of all, she was at Uni, receiving a college education like him, so the opportunity to lead a better life was there for the taking, unlike his mother who’d never had a chance.