Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

HIS GIFT
Friday, August 28, 2020 by JOAN C. BENSON

PLEASE WELCOME

JOAN BENSON

TO

FICTION FRIDAY

EXCERPT FROM HIS GIFT

Chapter 1—Ready or Not

 

The audition, the Audition, the AUDITION …

October 12, 1929, was only two days away, but it had been penned in my diary for two years. With almost a thousand

hours of practice behind me, I knew my destiny hung in the balance.

The bell rang. I scooped up my things and made a beeline to the door. The staff at the Music Conservatory frowned

upon tardiness. Could I prove I was ready for Saturday?

“Molly Martin—a word, please.” Mr. Hill stepped into my path, blocking my exit from class. I glanced at the clock,

but I didn’t need a reminder. I only had fifteen minutes.

“I have to run, Mr. Hill. Remember my permission for early-release on Mondays and Thursdays?”

Draping the lab coat over his arm, Mr. Hill looked aloof, yet stern. He towered above me with his tall, skinny frame. He ignored the students edging around us to get on

to their classes. Some students called Mr. Hill ‘the teacher with no soul.’ I would add he had no heart if he made me late for my pre-audition at the Music Conservatory.

“I’m confused, Miss Martin. Why are you taking this chemistry class?” he said, as if to pique my defense.

Good question. Did he think I would admit my parents insisted? I held my tongue. My parents drilled respect into me from childhood.

The fleeing students glanced with curiosity as they brushed by. Talking. Laughing. Being normal. My instinct was to escape this confrontation, but I stood rooted to my spot.

“I believe you’re a smart girl,” he said. The smell of stale coffee wafted in the air as he waved his hand in exasperation. Apparently, I was not smart enough to escape his little

lecture.

“Thank you, sir,” I replied, with dramatic pretense.

“You can do so much better. You know that you need a passing grade to be accepted by a worthy college.”

So they say. “With all due respect, sir, my goal is to win the competition with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.”

Everyone knew that. Even the principal. “College is not in my sights after graduation,” I stated with conviction. “At

least not right away.”

I stepped forward. Surely, we were finished.

Mr. Hill held up one hand to stop me. “And, if you don’t win this audition, Molly?”

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra held one student competition each year. Only one. My hopes hung on this audition. As a senior, I needed to win. This time. I knew many girls hoped to marry when they graduated. A few would go to college. Not me. Not now.

“You’re way behind in this class, Molly.”

Wiggling his fingers in the air as if playing an imaginary piano, his head shook and his eyes crinkled shut. “Your entire life is about—this.”

“I am serious about this, sir. What is wrong with concentrating on one’s strengths?”

“You are shortsighted, Miss Molly. Out of balance.” He tossed his coat a few feet behind us, barely landing it on the lectern.

“Excuse me,” someone whispered. By now students from the next class were squeezing in.

“With respect, I do have goals and priorities, Mr. Hill.”

“Do you even take time for friends, Molly?”

“Thank you for your wise advice, Mr. Hill.”

By then, my words were dripping with sarcasm. His disapproving black eyes glared back, and for an instant, his bushy eyebrows raised.

Mama and Father would be furious if they had heard me speak to a teacher in this manner. But what was he

thinking to insult me like that? No friends? What did he know about my life? My words spilled out before I could snatch them back.

With a sigh, Mr. Hill spewed out his final chiding remark. “You may be an expert with the keys of the piano.”

He wiggled his fingers in a mocking gesture. “But I fear you know nothing about the keys to life. You’d better find a tutor before the next grading period.”

Arguing at this point would prolong my agony. I kept my mouth closed. I nodded, giving a polite, but phony, smile.

“Miss Martin, do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” I replied, glancing at the clock again. In silence, I made clear I was finished. My fifteen minutes of travel time was now down to ten. Besides, the seats were filling up with his next class. He had no choice. He had to release me from captivity.

“All right, Miss Molly. Don’t force my hand. If you fail another test, the principal has agreed your privilege for early release must end. I’ll spell it out for you. No more piano lessons on school time, no matter how gifted you are.” This time he looked at me with a sorrowful expression. Or maybe it was pity. He stepped back and waved his arm toward the doorway.

Was he sad because he wanted me to see the error of my ways and embrace his fervent zeal for chemistry? This self-appointed resident scientist presumed nothing in the world was more important than chemistry. Yet he lectured me on balance? “The keys of life,” I should say. Maybe he had breathed in too many chemicals hanging over Bunsen burners. I couldn’t worry with his attitude right then. Mr. Clancy had precious few extended timeslots for advanced students, so I had to protect my chance to train with such an experienced professional.

I fled for my locker, grabbed my music, and pushed through the massive double doors of Royal Oak High. Freedom. Ahhh—delightful. Brisk fall breezes whipped at my open wool jacket. I flung my scarf around my neck as an added layer while I buttoned up.

No more thoughts about school. The tension with Mr. Hill must not ruin my lesson. The concerto’s familiar melody began playing in my mind, pushing my steps ever faster to its pulsing rhythm. As the upcoming competition demanded my attention, I wondered if this is how Olympic athletes felt. Excited? Tense? A little bit anxious?

ABOUT HIS GIFT

Dreams Can Come True!

Brace yourself for a thrilling race through the twists and turns of a young woman determined to see her dream come true. On the cusp of the stock market crash of 1929, seventeen-year-old Molly has aspirations for a career in music after high school. With the passion of an athlete preparing for the Olympics, she trains relentlessly to become the best she can be. As her world collapses in unimaginable ways, she is left to find peace and purpose in the midst of her crisis. The message of His Gift is universal to anyone who has ever dared to dream in spite of uncontrollable circumstances. The reader will discover with Molly, the hope and peace in a life when yielded to the Giver of all gifts.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/His-Gift-Joan-C-Benson/dp/1649490305/

 

ABOUT JOAN C. BENSON

Joan C. Benson is a freelance writer, a former educator, a reading specialist, and a teacher coach. Joan has produced devotional materials, magazine articles, children’s ministry curriculum, and untold numbers of stories, poems, informational text, stand-alone books, and reading curriculum for educational publishers. Joan grew up in a musical family and learned to play piano as a young child, performing often as a teenager. Her mother was her musical and spiritual mentor. Through Joan’s eyes and imagination, her gifted mother’s story plays out in the setting of a national crisis, The Great Depression. His Gift is her debut historical fiction novel, which should be enjoyable for both young adults and adults

WEBSITE: www.joancbenson.com (must have the middle initial c)

WordPress Blog: bensonjj.blog

Facebook (author view): https://www.facebook.com/YIHAVEHOPE/  or search on FB for  joan c benson

Twitter handle: 11Ccaj4life

INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/joancbenson/?hl=en

 

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