Our Song


Sheyla O'Donnell, Staff Writer

         Audrey Holloway spent years pretending that she wasn’t a closeted nerd. She spent time at football games and sleepovers only to wish she was at home plucking her violin or reading up on the Gilded Age. By the time she turned fifteen, she was a proud hermit. Audrey spent her summers at academic programs, her afternoons in private lessons or orchestras, and her weekends hunched over a desk with black ink smudging her hand. 

          This was not to say that Audrey didn’t desire more than academic and musical perfection, but she bottled up her wish for romance and friendship until her life was as perfect as a movie script. Audrey would have the gleaming “Doctor” before her name, a gaggle of friends that shared her dreams, and a husband whom she met in undergrad. He would be a lawyer or CEO because Audrey read up on doctor-doctor marriages. Unfortunately, the statistics of those marriages lasting were dismal. 

            So Audrey read about the romance and the friendships she promised herself. If she would ever take five seconds to look up from her desk, she would widen her eyes in horror at fifty of the three hundred books she owned that sat atop her credenza. Audrey had playlists of classical music that made her daydream about waltzing with Prince Charming and would play the most thought-provoking pieces at her competitions. This was her form of fun. She didn’t like the flowers, cheap bears, or nights out with friends. Not when she had her grades and solid spot as Concertmaster in her orchestra. 

             Valentine’s Day was simply another day in Audrey’s mind. More specially, it was the day she would perform the original song that she composed for her Musical Literacy class. Audrey didn’t struggle with much. She was top of her class and had taken a seat on her throne for three years. Audrey didn’t touch the athletic world because she had no desire to spend time doing something that she had no future in pursuing.

            To be frank, Audrey sucked at writing music. She had an eidetic memory, so every time she grew inspired, it became another song already written. It was almost as if her teacher knew she would struggle with this assignment. Audrey was far too rigid to excel at something so creative as composing. At least, that’s what Audrey told herself when she struggled with finishing the middle of her piece. 

           But of course, there had to be someone bound to ruin Audrey’s perfect streak every day. Nathan Wilder was more infuriating than an open E being screeched out from a freshman in the back. He was an unnaturally tall boy with a wingspan that would occasionally knock her out when he was passionate about the music they were playing. 

          He was the most painful thorn in her side. He was constantly making suggestions to HER section mere seconds before she was bound to make the same one. His hand was raised a millisecond faster than her own during class. Audrey blames it on his gangly arms that defied the rules of physics. He was constantly there, just waiting for her to fall. He was the scornful enemy waiting to hit her weak spot and sit on her old throne as number one in the class. 

           She spent every Tuesday after school in the practice room, nearly screaming at the long piece of the half-empty music staff. It inadvertently became a romantic piece that conveyed her desire for a boyfriend and her heartache in never being chosen. Audrey busied herself with schoolwork and music to forget and bury her feelings of being unwanted. Boys didn’t look at her and think, “I want her to be my girlfriend.” Instead, they looked upon Audrey and thought, “What’s the answer to this chemistry question?” 


            The last line of music swelled with a crescendo of 16th notes that even Nathan would struggle with. Audrey might struggle with creativity, but the execution was never one of her sore spots. But after the dramatic middle, Audrey was lost. Adding a solemn part felt like a cheap cop-out to show her incompetence. 

           An incessant knock startled Audrey from her confused stupor, and she merely scowled at Nathan, who was glaring at her and tapping his watch. She quickly packed up her violin and threw her backpack over her shoulder before walking out of the room. 

            “Audrey, can you please attempt to be more prompt? I’ve been waiting for five minutes. That’s five minutes of scales and warming up. That’s crucial time.” His voice grated on Audrey’s nerves as she attempted to hide her eye roll. 

            “Nathan, I can assure you that even five jilted minutes of scales wouldn’t make you better than me.”

             Audrey looked up at Nathan, only hoping her eyes were deceiving her because Nathan was staring at her with something akin to admiration. At least, that was until he opened his mouth.

              “And Audrey, I can promise you that I’m not TRYING to be better than you. That just comes naturally. 

              Audrey smirked at his rebuttal before quickly firing one-off, “Says the second chair violinist.” 

              Nathan’s smile was promptly removed from his face, “Says the vice-president of the class.” 

            With that jab, Audrey recoiled before glaring up at Nathan. A few moments earlier, Audrey could’ve sworn that Nathan’s eyes held a mystifying warmth in their hazel depth. Now they hardened with her dig at his inferior position in the orchestra. She brushed his comment up before securing her backpack straps again, “Have fun with your D major scale.” 

                He saluted her, “Have fun with your pre-ap Calculus class.” 

               Once more, another insult far more scathing than anything Audrey attempted. Nathan was painfully aware of Audrey’s anger with never being chosen to study among the self-proclaimed gifted children. Nevertheless, she managed to catapult herself to the top of the class with her AP-filled schedule. 



                  Audrey had spent the night sobbing into her pillow when she realized she had lost her music. Idiotically, she had never scribbled her name on the piece, and she knew she would have to start over. The next day Audrey returned to school with puffy eyes and anxiety racking through her body. It wasn’t until her orchestra director called her back to his office after class and handed her the music back with a sly grin. Audrey glanced over the added trills, runs, and annotations. 


              “Someone turned this into me after you left. You’re doing a beautiful job, Audrey” His praise warmed Audrey’s heart, and she nodded dumbly before going to her next class. Throughout the day, she wished she could go home and play the added part. And when she did arrive home, she barely took time to throw her coat off before she warmed up. 

            And whoever took it upon themself to add to her piece was, unfortunately, a musical genius. Her heart fluttered with adoration as she played through the notes that showed how love was futile. At least, that’s how Audrey interpreted the piece. 


           Weeks passed, and the due date for the assignment was approaching. Audrey was genuinely beginning to fall in love with the mystery person helping her tremendously with her piece. Besides their aggravating comments on altered bowing, fingering, and dynamics, the writer was fantastic. They seamlessly made their add-ons seem more cohesive than some of her transitions.

              Yet, every week Nathan still toyed with her desire to be kind to EVERYONE with his crazed knocking and comments about her punctuality. And Audrey began to hide her music under an old floorboard with clues on the music stand to notify the mystery musician of its location. 




             The fateful day had arrived. No, not the most romantic day of the year. It was the day she would have to explain her music and perform it for some of the harshest critics: her peers. She had scanned it for her teacher and finalized the copy with a black pen. It was left untitled though her mystery partner left a tiny little star with a smiley face at the top. Audrey loathed the dopey grin that the small images had elicited from her. 

            Nathan’s knee was bouncing up in anticipation of the events to come. He was unaware of who the original composer would be. Nathan begged the skies above for the owner of the piece NOT to ruin his own creation in the middle. He hoped whoever would play it had some semblance of skill. Nathan assumed it was someone who played the violin though that narrowed it down to around fifty people in the orchestra. And there were about twenty talented violinists who were also in his class. There were too many players for him to choose from. Nathan just hoped it wasn’t her. 

            It just couldn’t be her. Not when she loathed him more than she despised bad marks on tests. It stung Nathan more than he would let on. Didn’t she realize that everything he did was for her? Didn’t Audrey realize that all the nights spent in his room studying, hours spent practicing, and every sarcastic remark was for her to look at him? He wanted her to look at him as more than just an adversary to beat in a competition. He had been disgustingly in love with Audrey Holloway since the 8th-grade spelling bee when she beat him with a triumphant grin. Nathan would’ve done anything to see her smile, and smile BECAUSE of him. Maybe that was why he signed his name at the bottom of her finalized copy. He needed her to know how he felt. Maybe Nathan was begging for the composer to  BE Audrey. 



            Audrey should’ve known that Nathan was the culprit. She should have been able to recognize his bird scratch for scrawl immediately, and she should’ve seen his sabotage from the beginning. By the time Audrey finished, Nathan had looked pale, like someone had forced him to swallow a rock. He shot up from his seat and mumbled a lame excuse as to why he needed to leave and ran out. Her ever-stoic teacher smiled as they applauded alongside the rest of the class. Despite her horrifying realization, Audrey continued to soak in the praise even if she wondered if she would’ve received it without Nathan’s help. 


         Audrey walked out of the classroom, mulling over her thoughts. She had begun falling in love with the mystery composer. Only for the person to be Nathan. The boy she had competed with since the eighth grade. She had struggled every night to receive average grades, and when it all came down to the spelling bee she studied for, Nathan decided to enter on a whim. And if he hadn’t spelled incessantly wrong, he would’ve been the winner. 


           Everything came naturally to Nathan. He never seemed to have a care in the world. He didn’t outwardly show his anxiousness or stress over tests. Yet, Nathan effortlessly managed to keep up with her. The girl everyone knew to be a genius. Everyone knew how hard she worked. All the teachers could clearly see the time and hours spent studying. Even her orchestra director knew how much time she put into her music. 

           Audrey couldn’t fall in love with Nathan. It was easy to ignore his perfection when he annoyed her to no end in orchestra or chemistry. So it made sense why she fell in love with the person he was when he had music. Nathan was a completely different person when music was in the picture. He was lighter and happier. It was almost as if he breathed in music to live.

         As if fate was ultimately against Audrey, Nathan was found waiting for her at the end of the day next to her violin compartment in the music wing. She recoiled at the sight of him before turning promptly in the other direction.

        “Audrey, are you really so horrified by my presence that you will sacrifice practice time? A concertmaster doesn’t do that!” Nathan goaded her to elicit a response. It was as if Nathan only knew how to get her attention by provoking her. 


         Audrey finally faced Nathan head-on as she stopped in a deserted hallway. Audrey allotted about five seconds to admire his physical attributes before reminding herself that this was Nathan Wilder, and they were supposed to be sworn enemies. She appreciated his immense height and remarkable eyes full of gold and sage green blended shades. And finally, she remembered how his grin would light up the world due to the rarity of said expression. Because now? Nathan looked almost as nauseous as her. 


        “Why would you help me with this project? Don’t you realize that helping me just hurts you more? Imagine if you didn’t: I would’ve gotten a terrible grade, and then you would’ve been number one. So did you need me to be indebted to you?”


            Nathan hadn’t wholly realized what would’ve happened if he had chosen the other path. But, when it came to Audrey, there was no other way. Nathan would do anything to help her. 


             “Yes, I just love having a slew of people indebted to me. No, Audrey. Can you truly not see it? Was I just the only one in the room who LISTENED to you today? I know you, and I know you don’t just listen to the music to say you did. I know you tear it apart for imperfections, and you analyze it. I’ve even seen that strange music journal you keep. I thought for some strange reason that if I would help you write it…if I expressed myself in the only way you would understand, you would realize. I’m in love with you, Audrey. And I thought that if I were to help you, you might realize it for yourself and fall for me too.”


         Audrey was too stunned to speak as Nathan waited for at least some response. But when he received nothing, Nathan took the rejection, picked up whatever semblance of pride he had, and walked away. 


           It wasn’t until their induction into the National Honors Society that Audrey managed to express her jumbled feelings. Throughout the months of animosity between the two, Audrey was more sure about her feelings. And what she would’ve said if she had the chance to return to that hallway. Nathan ceased teasing and provoking her. Instead, they sat together in orchestra daily, and he waited for her instruction just as a dutiful second-chair violinist would. He hesitated on questions she would inevitably answer and barely glanced her way during their Musical Literacy class. Audrey never truly realized how embedded Nathan was in her life until he was gone. And she missed him; she truly did. 


             So when she got up from her seat alongside three other juniors to perform the alma mater to commemorate the exciting event, Audrey slipped a thick envelope full of letters and half-finished pieces of music she had attempted in the months they didn’t speak. It conveyed how she felt when she first met him, explained her warring feelings when he was helping her write her composition, and talked about how she began falling in love with him without realizing it. Who knew music and Valentine’s Day would have such an impact on two geniuses?