It is the moment I enter stage right. I walk with my heels on, feeling the hollow wooden floor beneath me, my heart and whole body trembling as if I’ve been jumping around the green room while waiting.
It is when I feel my cheeks tense up as I put on my biggest smile, looking towards the audience seats. I stand by the side of the piano. I bow.
It is the split-second between sitting on the bench and placing my hands gently on the piano.
The deep breath I take before I start, carefully making sure I play my first notes right.
It is the dissonant musical phrases I hear when my fingers slip and stumble on the keys.
The panic in my eyes as I get lost on measures after measures of melodies from memory.
It is the faint claps I hear after I play my last notes and as I lift my fingers off the piano, knowing I’ve done injustice to Tchaikovsky.
It is the bright spotlight that shines on me, as I stand up to take a bow, fighting the urge to squint and see the awful face the jury makes from the audience seats, as I’ve yet again butchered a masterpiece.
It is the pounding of my heart as I walk out and put on a brave face.
It is the waiting for the verdict to be passed when I already know the result,
that I’ve failed, again.
It is being slapped with the hard realization that I have not done enough.
Yet, I know, I already know.
It is just like all those other times.