Silent - A Stern Warning

Two Years Ago, Gavin

I woke up on the floor again, momentarily confused. Yawning, Philippa headed to the showers. She returned, and I went for a shower next.  Later, we walked down to the breakfast cafeteria, conscious of the icy silence that fell the moment we entered the room. Dawn left as soon as she could without drawing attention to herself, and one of the other pianists followed and caught up with her, throwing me a filthy look at the door.

Another girl had taken Lucy's place behind the hatch. Blonde. Similar to Lucy but different. Philippa and I grabbed croissants and coffee from the counter and took them to the student table. Paul ignored me.

Breakfast over, Philippa and I started to head back to my room when a hand clamped down on my shoulder by the open staircase in the entrance hallway and Terence Harlesden's face moved close to mine, like it had done yesterday morning.  But today, he wasn't grinning.  

'A word, please,' he said.

'He's with me,' Philippa said. 'And we have things to do.'

'I need to speak to Gavin in private,' Terence said. 'I suggest you find a piano, Philippa, and do some practice, otherwise, you will be barred from performing at this week's concert.'  

'Fine,' Philippa said. 'I'll wait here.'

'No, you won't,' Terence said. 'Either you attend morning classes or you practise the piano down in the basement.'

'So-rry,'Philippa said.

Terence ignored the remark and took me into an office…more a cubicle with a huge filing cabinet and an old typewriter and cobwebs on the ceiling.  Shutting the door, he glared at me. 'Never pull a stunt like that again.'

I didn't say anything.  Just stared at the filing cabinet, wishing I could sink through the floor.

'You and Philippa humiliated Dawn in front of the group at breakfast time. Enough. I'm warning you: upset Dawn one more time, and you'll be asked to leave the course and escorted from the premises.'  Terence paused, as wanting his words to sink in.

'Dawn's a mentor volunteer and a valued member of this School,' he went on. 'She showed you a lot of kindness when you first came here and you threw it back in her face. Final chance, Gavin. I'm extremely angry about this.'

I wanted to retaliate. The problem was, Terence was right. I had hurt Dawn.

'If there are any further occurrences of this sort, we will cancel your scholarship and prevent you from re-entering Lyme House. As you're still a minor, we'll contact your parents and tell them you've been excluded for disruptive behaviour.  I'm normally a reasonable man, but I won't put up with anymore of it. If you miss any more morning classes at the Theatre, you'll be excluded and permanently barred from the Summer School, and your parents will be informed. Am I clear on that?'

Asked to leave?  Not to see Philippa again?  No way. 'Yes.'

'The afternoon sessions are optional,' Terence continued.  'And what you do with Philippa is up to you, but the bottom line is this: you will not upset Dawn again – ever – and you will attend all the morning classes, like everyone else here has to do. You will keep your relationship with Philippa private. Am I clear?'


'Good,' Terence studied me for a moment or two, making me uncomfortable. I detected a softening in his eyes. His son Steve was about my age. I hoped Terence wasn't about to get personal like he had in the car yesterday. 'If you still want to take up my offer of advancing your career, we can discuss it after your performance at the lunchtime concert on Friday. But first, I would need to see you perform and know that you're committed to a performing career. Otherwise we'd be wasting our time.  I'm trying to help you, Gavin, but it's up to you. Now, take that sulky look off your face and go and freshen up, and I'll drive you to the theatre.'

The morning session at the Grand Theatre. Philippa didn't turn up and I couldn't think of anything else.  After the coffee break, I went on stage and performed the Chopin Scherzo and the first movement of an early Beethoven sonata. I received an unexpected bravo! from Agnes Harlesden.

'Very, very good,' she said.  'I'm impressed, but I still want to see a little more effort in the Beethoven. It isn't quite good enough. Are you bored of the Beethoven?'


'Then put more passion into it,' she cried, tapping her cane on the piano lid.
Written by Lozzamus
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