New people.

Winter was falling rapidly ; signs of frost decreasing, fresh green leaves covering trees. Sometimes you would see a blossom tree, already almost fully bloomed, with delicate, pinky-white flowers adorning the trees. A spring breeze made you inhale deeply, you could just smell spring in the air.

Spring, is in the air.... Daffodils, are everywhere... in the spring time...., Daniel sang it silently himself. He smiled at the children on the streets, who, giddy with the approach of spring, waved back at him. It was normal for children in this district to be nice to adults passing by, as long as he did not come to close, or start up a conversation with them. He waggled his fingers at Lian, who was playing on the street with Louise, and they both waved back at once, yelling, "Hi, Mr. Daniel!" Daniel grinned. Lian was now a frend of his, and she would soon start taking piano lessons. Lian's mother, Jingfei, confessed that Lian had been wanting to play piano for some time, and, since Miranda had gotten a 'new music teacher ', had already been considering him.

Slam! Daniel jumped in shock. He had been gazing at a lamp post in idle reverie when someone had shut the Johnson's door, HARD. He saw a girl with dark plaits and big eyes, now squinted shut, stomp onto the street. Miranda ran outside from her house.

" I didn't MEAN it like that, Adabelle!" Miranda shouted. Adabelle turned her head and yelled, "Well, it SOUNDED like you did!" And she ran off. Daniel could see her eyes glittring with faint tears. He turned to Miranda in dismay. Her fair hair was falling out of her ponytail, and she looked both upset and angry, but when she looked at Daniel, her anger fell away.
"Come in," she said miserably. "She's gone anyway."


"Who's Adabelle?" Daniel said curiously, then instantly regretting it. Miranda looked unhappy and this would do no help whatsoever. She seemed to have fallen back into the cocoon she had been in when he first met her ; afraid to be judged, quiet but with a loud personality that was waiting to emerge. Over the past weeks he had been teaching her, her cocoon had been chipping off, especially around him. Daniel and music had an effect of people. But right now, that wasn't going to help.
 Miranda was quiet for a minute then she said, not answering his question, "I tried what you suggested last week."

His heart fell. "Oh."
Last week, Miranda had presented him with a problem; her friends were slowly drifting away. They didn't spend too much time with her anymore, except for Louise and Lian (her best friends). Daniel proposed the idea of inviting somebosy to their house, and letting them see the real her - sweet, generous, kind, and fun to be with. She had agreed on trying.
"And... this is what happened?" Daniel said slowly. Miranda gave a sort of shrug.
"What happened?"
"I invited Adabelle over, we were really close last year. But she only wanted to play with her new Bratz doll she brought over. "
"What, was there only one doll?" Daniel joked half-heartedly. Miranda gave him a blank glance.

"I have a Bratz doll. But she creeps me out. Her head is too big, and thats not how God would have wanted a human to be."

Her voice, sincere, made something rise in Daniel's body.

" I didn't want to play with them, and I told her that. I said they were boring, and I didn't know how anybody could not get scared by their heads, and tiny bodies. She got angry because she thought I thought she was weird. I don't," she added harshly, "But I don't like Bratz."

"What about Barbies?" That was the only other doll name he had heard of. She shrugged.

"I don't mind much. Lian hates them, " Miranda put in. "She wantes to find one that looks like he, because their's one that looks like me, and like Louise, btu none have her eyes."

Daniel grinned mentally. Poor Lian would never get her doppelganger Barbie; people were too racist for that. Maybe when she's older, she'll understand, Daniel mused to himself.

"I'm sorry," he said honestly. "I really didn't expect that to happen."

"I know," Miranda said, but he knew she hadn't really forgiven him. But Daniel surged ahead.

"Why don't we try another piece?"
Miranda looked doubtful. "I don't think so. I'm not in the mood."

"Well, you should try, anyway," he urged her.
"No, I can't." she refused.
"Just try, Miranda."
"But I CAN'T."

Daniel sighed. He was good at keeping his temper in check - after all, he DID have practice with stubborness - and he didn't like yelling. It wasn't as if this was his limit.

"Miranda, just TRY."
" There's no point."
"Well, I still want to hear you play something else. Please?"

Miranda looked tired of arguing, and he didn't like pushing her. But she gave in.

She put her bow to the instrument, and breathed in, slowly. She exhaled.
She began to play.
She's right, Daniel thought, surprised. She's not playing.

Miranda was LITERALLY playing, but nothing was in it. There was no life. Her mistakes were prominent and more frequent. He realized that she could not play, - PLAY - when she was upset. Instinctively, he put his hand on the neck of the violin, effectively cutting out her music. Miranda looekd up at him.

"Ok, I get it. Play an old piece. We'll start this next week."

His student immediately looked releived. "Ok," she said imediately. There was a look of regret in her eyes, saying Sorry, I really want ot play - but I can't. Not right now. And Daniel understood.


"I'm home!" Daniel called, dumping his bag on the sofa. He went to the kitchen, to make a cup of coffee. He stirred the mix in thoughtfully, registering the progress all his students made.

Hands grabbed his legs.

"You're back! "

Daniel turned around, grinning. This would cheer him up. He saw a sandy head  by his lower leg. A boy was lying on his stomach on a skateboard, his chin below Daniel's knee.
Joshua was his adopted son, nine years old.

The End

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