She was far away from her sparsely furnished studio in Brooklyn.The place she called home.She loved being on tour playing in different venues. If all goes well today, she thought, things will be much different.
She wore a long halterneck dress in sequined mesh with an open back. On her feet were white high-top Keds.

It was her first solo, she was a nervous wreck. Her cab was supposed to be here already. She was waiting in the lobby of Hotel Monaco looking out towards  Millennium Plaza  at some Segway riders.  She wondered how they could stand the cold but it looked like fun.Yellow Cab is usually on time. She had used them before. She preferred not to subject her violin to the windy, sub-zero Chicago temperatures otherwise she would have hailed a cab.
The cabby pulled up.She ran outside.The doorman had the rear door of the cab open."Thanks." she said. "Orchestra hall please"
"whey yuh goin?"
"Orchestra Hall!" She said impatiently.
"Dis wedda de cold! Cold! "
"Yeah I know. Can we go now."
"dis no problom Mis "  he replied as he was scanning the radio for a station, the engine still idling at the curb.
"Apparently Yellow Cab  evaluated the opportunity cost when hiring you and came to the somewhat odd conclusion that  having drivers like you outweighed the benefits of customer satisfaction.How many more are there like you?" She said condescendingly.
"Excuse me miss"
"I'll put it in third grade English for you.There's going to be a problem if you don't get going. I'll be late."
Com down now! We goin!"
"Don't tell me to be calm I'm not calm.I don't have time for this. Maybe in your country, they have all the time in the world to do whatever. Play soccer and smoke weed.." she stopped abruptly as she saw his eyes glaring at her in the rear view mirror. There  was an awkward silence. Then he said:
"mi granny seh " If yu mash ants yu fine im guts."

People reveal their true colors when faced with pressure or hard times.

"What!," Paige said defiantly.
"Everyday  buckit a go a well, wan day he battam drap out."

Taking the same risks everyday can eventually end in disaster.

"Jamaican proverbs," he said.
She realized she had to try to be more tactful. "Look I'm sorry I just have this concert.."
"Everyday  buckit a go a well, wan day he battam drap out" He repeated.
As she heard it a second time it came to her.
"Hey, I know where that's from."
Paige said to humor him. "I shot the sheriff. "
"Ah Bob Marly girl"
"What's your name"
"Call me Baz"
"Okay Baz, now show me what this hot rod can do."
"Ah hang on miss I know a Shart  cut."
"Sorry!I am usually much nicer but I'm stressed out because of my performance.It's my first solo."
"Nuh, care ow hog try fi hide unda sheep wool, im grunt let im down."
It doesn’t matter how much a hog tries to hide under sheep’s wool his grunt will betray him.Meaning:itis impossible to hide your true character.
 She was silent the rest of the drive she did not want to encourage him or hear more of his life lessons.
By the time they arrived at Orchestra Hall she had five minutes to spare.The cab stopped and  Paige handed Baz a ten then quickly retreated from the cab."Change miss?"
"Keep it!".
She avoided the front entrance and found a side door which led to the stage.The century-old staircase was dark and narrow.The plaster walls were chipped exposing the wood lath. She looked up from street level at the four flights of stairs she was about to climb. The still air smelled Musty.She suddenly felt nauseous.Her skin was clammy and pale.she started climbing. The stairs Creaked with each step. She stopped at the first landing to catch her breath. Self-doubt started to set in. I'm not prepared, what did I get myself into? After a moments pause, she continued climbing.I shouldn't be here.I could have practiced more. What will be the reaction of the audience?She was almost  at the third landing now. What if I don't get a standing ovation. Everybody gets a standing ovation. What if I am booed off the stage .She knew these thoughts were irrational but she couldn't shake them. She could feel her heart ponding harder now. she felt dizzy. She  continued further up the long narrow flight of stairs. One more flight to go. She was almost at stage level, exhausted from worry, she decided to turn back. Just as she started down the flight of stairs the stage door opened and conductor Angelo Batzini appeared at the top of the stairs."Miss Paige, we have been expecting you. You should have taken the front entrance elevator. You don't look so well. Are you okay?"
" Of course! The stairway stinks like cat piss I was going to leave and come back in through the front door," she lied. 

He ushered her to where the orchestra was warming up. She placed her crush resistant violin case down. The case and its contents contained everything she owned of value.  Inside the case, safely nestled in the red silk lining was the violin and bow her Dad bought her when she graduated from Juilliard.In a small compartment were Rosin, a flashlight, lipstick pepper spray, a stuffed panda bear given to her twenty-eight years earlier by her first violin instructor , a bar of Belgium dark chocolate, a few dollars, an Amex card,and a business card from Violin Crafters all wrapped neatly together with a rubber band. She  ran her fingers over the matted fur of the panda and closed the lid.  She took out her violin and began tuning.In a few minutes, all eyes will be on her.She made her way towards the front of the stage with her violin and bow in hand.

 The  curtain rose and  all 2500 in attendance applauded. She managed an awkward smile and a slight bow.She scanned the crowd and the exit doors at the other end of the hall.The audience fell silent as the conductor entered. His arms and baton raised, they waited patiently.She placed her violin under her chin and began.The moment  her bow touch the strings her anxiety vanished.

The months leading up to today she practiced relentlessly day and night. She selected  Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor op47 because it was her favorite and was fitting because Johan Julius Christian Sibelius wrote it in 1904 the same year Orchestra Hall was constructed. Like her life, it was a dark piece with a depressing melodic backdrop and interludes of optimism dispersed throughout.She played on for thirty minutes and when it was all over the crowd stood up  and burst into applause.Roses were thrown up at her from the orchestra sections and down from the box seats above the stage.  She played impeccably. She recreated as best she could what it may have sounded like a century ago.No one will ever know of course but Paige was confident that she nailed it. This was the finest moment of her life.She stood before the audience with an accomplished smile,took a solo bow and began  packing up her violin. On her way out she did not look to avoid the crowd this time.Instead she headed straight down the stage stairs passed her admiring fans. Some had brought their own violins hoping to get theirs autographed. She signed a few and posed for several  selfies. As she exited through revolving doors she noticed to her surprise a Yellow Cab waiting for her. "Hotel Monaco  please."
She put in her earbuds, pressed play on her i phone and sang: "All I wanna do is zoom a zoom zoom and a poom poom just  SHAKE YOUR RUMP.Shake it, shake it, shake it she can spend every birthday butt naked." she threw up three fingers making the Chicago gang hand sign.I love this city she thought.

Paige - A musical Prodigy she is highly skilled at verbal Judo, Witty, and at times brutally honest.
Once she was pulled over for speeding and told the officer he had bad breath and had failed to trim his nose hairs.


The End

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