Cherie hated the boredom and pettiness of junior high, she hated life at home as her parents prepared for a divorce, she hated the boys who made fun of her (it was junior high, after all), and she hated her brother for just being her brother. She loved to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was to practice cello in the quiet little music rehearsal rooms at school.
Those music rooms were solace. They were silent, no one else could hear her or judge her. And, instead of worrying about how she looked or what she was doing, she could just lose herself in the deep soothing tones of the cello.
She was good, too. She’d started learning how to play the cello when she was five, and worked hard at it. By the time she was in fifth grade, she was entering competitions and doing well. Cherie knew that some of the kids at school mocked her for being an orchestra geek, and one who played a huge stringed instrument that she lugged back and forth between home and school. But, she couldn’t bear to even consider giving it up to avoid negative attention. It was too wonderful, and some day, school would be behind her, the mean kids would have either gotten nicer with age or lived out their lives in pettiness, and she would always have the cello.
So, she played, and closed her eyes and enjoyed making such wonderful sounds. As she finished the last piece of music, she opened her eyes. In the middle of the music room, in front of her chair, a small snake lay stretched out. There was a snake in the music room.
What was worse was the boy who was next in line to use the music room was peering in teh tiny rectangular hole, with his eyes as wide as they could go. Cherie could tell he was terrified there was a snake in the music room. Slowly, his eyes moved and met hers solemnly, wondering what he was going to do.
Slowly, she slipped out from behind the cello, and crept toward the snake. She could tell it was just a harmless garden snake, they’d seen plenty of those at her grandparent’s farm, and she bent down and scooped it up. She glanced back up at the boy in the window and couldn’t help but smile at his soundless cries. The room was, after all, sound proof. He ran off as she packed up her stuff one-handed, the other hand tightly gripping the squirming snake. By the time she left the music room, a whole group of junior high boys were standing at the end of the hall, watching how she handled this snake in the music room. She calmly walked past them and headed to the office, aware they were trailing after her, whispering. She walked into the office, startling the secretary at the desk, let her know she’d found a snake in the music room, and went outside, dropping the snake in the bushes. She turned around, cheeks burning, ready for the boys to mock her. They stared at her, and then one of them whooped, punching his fist in the air. They all cheered and clapped and called her name. She wasn’t at all like the other girls, and they were impressed.