The last note faded away, drowned out in thunderous applause. Alfrond bowed and gestured to the rest of them. Shae couldn’t restrain her smile as she bowed with the other girls. Her first performance! The rush of it was overwhelming. She tucked her hand drum under her arm and followed the others off the stage, into the room set aside for them.
So enthused was she that she failed to notice the silence that emanated from the others, though the tension that filled the small room as soon as the door closed was impossible to miss. She felt her smile fade away as she looked around with growing concern. “What…”
“WHAT IN THE HELLS WAS THAT?!”
Shae jumped as Alfrond wheeled and glared at them. “Wh…”
“I’VE NEVER BEEN SO EMBARRASSED IN MY LIFE! GLYDIA, YOU WERE FLAT THE ENTIRE TIME! SHERSHIE, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU TO DROP AN OCTAVE ON THE SECOND STANZA?”
“But you told me…”
Alfrond’s slap across Shersie’s face seemed to echo throughout the room and Shae let out a gasp as Shershie cried out.
“Hey…” was as far as Shae got before Alfrond turned to her.
“And YOU! I took a CHANCE on you but the way you played has made me regret it! Did you forget everything I taught you?!”
Shae frowned. She hadn’t missed a note, she was sure of it. “I didn’t…”
He shoved his face in hers and growled, “Don’t talk back to me, girl. YOU came to ME, begging to learn. That means you LISTEN, not TALK when I am talking. Don’t FORCE me to teach you better manners!”
Anger coursed through her and Shae began to speak, but she noticed the other two girls out of the corner of her eye shaking their heads – their faces had turned deathly pale at his words. She bit back her words and nodded at him. “Yes, sir.”
It seemed enough, at least for now – he turned away sat in a chair in the corner of the room. The other girls moved quickly to begin packing away the instruments, so Shae joined them, still uncertain what had just happened, but certain she didn’t want to find out.