Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 29

When class ended, Coco didn't join in the usual race to the cafeteria. She needed time to be alone, just a little time to get in touch with the new Coco and to try her feelings on for size. Reardon watched her for a moment before he left, but he decided that he wasn't too worried by what he saw. If Coco wanted to talk, she'd talk. Doris lingered for a while, but they'd both said all that they needed to say.

When Coco went out, the lobby hall was almost empty. Shorofsky was just on his way out of the front doors, pulling on his overcoat and in an obvious hurry to get somewhere. All through the school were the odd, indistinct echoes of a brief time-out from furious concentration.

Even though it was the nearest to a relaxed hour that the school would see all day, the heartbeat of practice and rehearsal went on. Leroy and Marguerite would be working through, putting a polish on Leroy's semester showcase. Bruno would probably drop out of whichever crowd he was with and wander through the music faculty, looking for a piano that didn't have somebody's lunchbox on its lid. Julie had already been seen around studying the list of approved pieces that were available to be played by candidates for the next round of Juillard scholarships.

Friends. The word had never before seemed to have the resonance for Coco that it had now. Bruno had been right; if she'd broken away early she'd have lost them forever, out of the crowd before the crowd was ready to follow. Even if nothing else good had come of her blowing the screen test, she had this fact to be grateful for.

She pushed open the swing doors that took her into the darkness of the school's auditorium. Just like last time, there was someone down in the orchestra pit improvising around on the grand piano; and, just like last time, she didn't have to listen for long to know who it was.

Coco lowered one of the back row's tip-up seats, and sat to listen. She couldn't understand why she didn't feel worse; if anyone had asked her about the consequences of failure on the day before the test she'd have said disaster, end of the world, her whole life down the tubes. But the truth was that the world was still here.

Instead she felt a little tougher, a little stronger, and it was a strength that was tempered with a new humility. Maybe she could be knocked down, but she couldn't be stopped.

And the liner notes! Just think of the liner notes!

Enough of this. She was sitting out where the audience belonged, and it wasn't home territory. That piano needed a voice.

She got out of her seat, and made her way down towards the stage.

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