Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 17

The restaurant for lunch on Wednesday wasn't exactly as Julie had imagined it, but she hadn't been far wrong. Whereas a couple of years ago she'd have blended in without a second thought, now she felt awkward and uncomfortable.

Norman Miller sat across from her, not too close, making conversation in an attempt to bridge the gap between them. They'd had bright hellos and hugs on the school steps, and small-talk in the cab. Julie was wondering when he was going to get around to it.

'Breakfast at the airport in Detroit,' her father mused, toying with his chef's salad, 'luncheon at the Summer Terrace in Manhattan. Talk about culture shock.'

Julie smiled, but it was a strained effort. Norman Miller could see as much.

'School's going okay?' he asked.

'Okay,' Julie said. And then; 'Better than okay. But it just seems silly to be talking about school and breakfasts and . . . anything but what it is you came all this way to tell me.'

He smiled a little lamely, and took a small sip of his wine. 'Growing up on me, aren't you?' he said.

'Trying.'

'Well, then, I'll stop beating about the bush.' He set down his glass, and got serious. 'There's a time between a parent and child - maybe more between a father and a daughter - when the daughter looks upon the father as darn near perfect. A king. Daddy can't do anything wrong. No mistakes possible. And part of growing up . . . a sad part, maybe . . . is when you find out that's not so. That old Dad is just as capable of fouling up as the next person. Such as the way I fouled what your mother and I had.'

He seemed to be fighting with something very difficult. Julie was with him all the way, willing him to come through; he seemed to sense this, but the job didn't get any easier.

'Growing older doesn't mean that a person makes fewer mistakes,' he went on, and then he gave her a rueful smile. 'We just feel a lot sillier when we make them.'

'But what mistake . . . '

'Maybe mistake isn't the right word. It's just important that you understand that grown-ups can get confused, too.'

She was starting to get impatient, now. 'Daddy, I'm not following you.'

'What I'm trying to say is that making a mistake doesn't mean a person can't start fresh, to try to put things right again. To rebuild. You follow me so far?'

'I hope so.' She really hoped so.

Doris caught up with Julie between classes, later that afternoon. They had only a couple of minutes before the start-of-session bell, but Doris was popping with eager anticipation.

'Nu?' she said. 'Well?'

'You want the good news or the bad news?'

'You know me; I want it all.'

'The good news is, you were right. My father wants to get married.'

Doris would have jumped, but tides of people in a hurry were pushing them from both sides. 'Didn't I tell you!' she said. 'The same way with my . . . '

'The bad news is, the lady he's going to marry is not my mother.'

Doris felt as if she'd suddenly been dumped in cold water.

But then Julie probably wasn't feeling so hot, either.

' . . . So when he said he was getting married,' she told Shorofsky bleakly, 'it just brought up all those old feelings. And the harder I fought to keep them inside, the harder they fought to get out. And I'd built up such hopes that . . . '

Julie Shrugged, her voice trailing away. She felt as if she was just talking around and around in circles, getting nowhere and making no real sense.

Shorofsky nodded as he listened. He'd moved over to stand by the window, to take the pressure off Julie so that she could speak or lapse into silence, whatever she wanted. She'd come to him on the pretext of wanting to discuss the orchestra parts for the Festival of Musical Arts - no more than a couple of weeks away now, with the posters on show around the Lincoln Centre by the park and the tickets already on sale - but it had soon become obvious that there was something else on her mind.

He looked out. Forty-Sixth was quiet, but the Avenue of the Americas at the end of the block was a solid mass of unmoving cars, most of them in the bright yellow livery that was a requirement for all New York City cabs. People were leaning on their horns, and further down the block a siren was howling as a police car or ambulance struggled in vain to get through.

'Lots of trouble out there,' he mused. 'Lots of pain.'

Julie looked at the floor, and Shorofsky turned his back to the window and began to pace.

'You know, Miller,' he said, 'every composer worth his salt knew about pain. Very few were what you or I would call "happy". But they took the pain, as well as the joy, and put it into their music.' He stopped pacing, and glanced at her. 'In case I'm not being obvious enough, that's a hint.'

'That's the problem, Mister Shorofsky. I'm scared that maybe I don't have any music left in me.'

He confronted her. 'There will always be music inside of you, Miller. This I guarantee.'

She stood up, and looked at him for a long and hopeful moment. Then, before she knew it, she was hugging him.

'Miller,' Shorofsky said, wincing slightly at the pain in his neck, 'you're a cellist, not a chiropractor. Please let go.'

She backed off at once, with an embarrassed smile. Shorofsky groped around for an exit line, couldn't find one, and then made a somewhat red-faced exit anyway.

But Julie wasn't sorry. Not a bit of it.
 
 
 

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