Centauri Serenade [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Theresa Garrido
eBook Category: Young Adult
eBook Description: When a young girl's only real joy, music, is suddenly taken away, a strange journey to rediscover her musical gift reaches beyond the stars to an amazing, harmonious world. Fourteen-year-old Annie Wren's love of music and her one true talent, playing the violin, kept her sane in a world full of struggles with math, social studies, and her parents. In fact, participating in the orchestra was the only good thing about middle school. When a clash over her failing grades landed her in remedial math and extra tutoring classes, Annie wasn't happy, but knew she'd make it through the rest of the school year. But when her parents took her out of orchestra they went too far. Her perpetual stomachaches got worse and she yearned for an escape. Where could she go on her own? Would her grandparents, Nana and Doc, allow her to stay with them? She loved visiting their vacation condo in Charleston, and enjoyed trips with them to Scotland. They also had a cabin in Maine, but Annie didn't want to go to Maine. She always felt uneasy there. Something about that place gave her bad dreams--ten years of strange, haunting dreams. Annie yearned to unlock the mystery of her bizarre dreams. Little by little, memories began to surface, and then she had a revelation. The only way to discover the truth and bring back her music was to return to her Grandparent's cabin?in Maine.
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, Published: Spring, Texas, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2009
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2 Reader Ratings:
Oh, God ... if I don't get out of here, I'm going to puke. I hate them. I hate them. Annie held her breath, focused on the framed picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt hanging on the opposite wall, and willed her stomach not to release its sour contents all over the floor. With an iron will, she listened as three other people--her father, mother, and homeroom teacher--plotted her assassination.
"And so, I recommend that Annie remain in the remedial math class for the time being, attend after-school tutoring, and forgo participation in any extracurricular activities," Mrs. Armstrong said, gathering the papers before her and giving them a quick snap to bring them together. "I will say this. Annie is extremely bright and very precocious for her age. Her creative writing skills are above average and could compete with any high school senior, but..." she peered over her half glasses at the couple sitting like mannequins across from her and allowed her lips to turn up at the corners, "she needs discipline and direction. Do we agree, Mr. and Mrs. Wren?"
Her father, Paul Richard Wren, CEO of a large brokerage firm in Atlanta, only frowned. His usual defense against any opposition, Annie thought. C'mon, big man. Show your stuff. Pulverize the woman as only the esteemed Mr. Big Shot Wren can.
Her mother, Penny Grant Wren, let out a dainty cough. You go, girl. I am woman, hear me roar. Mother, dear, you're an airhead. Neither one of her parents spoke. Instead, they glared at the girl sitting between them. Annie didn't move nor return their penetrating gaze but kept her eyes riveted on the 32nd President of the United States. The teacher's last words, however, struck home. What's your problem, Mrs. 'Strong Arm'? Were you a sergeant major in a past life? No, I know ... a prison guard...
The middle-aged woman--iron-gray hair cut short and navy blue blouse buttoned to her throat--stifled what could have been a withering sigh and folded her hands on the stacked papers in front of her. She leaned forward, studied Annie's parents for an electric moment, sent a cursory glance her student's way, then said between thin lips, "Would you like me to arrange a meeting with our counselor, Ms. Williams? Perhaps she could come up with something more agreeable than what I've suggested."
Paul Wren puffed out his cheeks and shook his head. "No, no ... we aren't negating what you've said. It's just that we're damn frustrated with our daughter's theatrics. She's playing a neat little game--has been for quite some time--and, frankly, we're through playing. We've been too damn lenient."
Yeah, you're a regular Santa Claus, Dad. You tell her.
Her father spread his hands as though in defeat, cleared his throat, and continued. "We were considering whether a boarding school might be more in line with what's needed here--as way of an immediate and more expedient remedy, if you know what I mean. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't some good old-fashioned discipline do the trick? Nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand? Hell. I want to solve the problem before she goes to high school. I say, send her to a strict school somewhere--maybe Switzerland or Germany. Hell, I don't care. Just some place with enough savvy to do the trick. Are there military academies for girls? I mean, these days, anything goes." He glanced sideways at his wife, who clutched her purse in both hands and fiddled with the decorative buttons attached to either side. "Well, Penny? Say something, please."
Her mother gave a visible start then pursed her lips. "Yes ... yes ... something more forceful than just a remedial class and after-school tutoring, for heaven's sake. I certainly don't know what it is she needs anymore. I mean, she's unmanageable." Her eyes darted from Annie to the teacher to her purse. "She's beyond unmanageable. I'm at my wits' end, and my doctor has prescribed medication just so I can sleep. I'm that distracted. He was emphatic that I separate myself from the situation before I have a nervous breakdown. It's having a terribly negative effect on my art. Boarding school is the only thing we can come up with to erase this problem we're having with our incorrigible daughter." She took a deep breath and stopped her fidgeting long enough to look at the teacher with blue eyes wide and pleading. "What do you think we should do, Mrs. Armstrong?"
Annie almost laughed at this. Mother, you're as thick as the clay you like to wallow in. Jeez, you're a dipstick. Hello. Earth calling Penny Wren. Knock-knock ... anybody home?
Mrs. Armstrong scrutinized her still-folded hands as though they were an interesting lab experiment. Tandem swallows and several blinks suggested the degree of sheer will power drawn upon to hold her temper in check. Annie knew that the poor woman had already spent forty-seven minutes sharing her professional opinion with her clueless parents in what was becoming a frustrating and tedious list of repeated conferences. It was clear as glass they hadn't heard a word she'd said. Not now; not ever.
When the teacher looked up, determined not to betray her acute distaste for this couple, she said in an even tone that only hinted at the volcano of emotion waiting to erupt, "I'm sorry, but I can't agree with you. I don't think boarding school is the answer--especially one out of the country. I believe Annie needs professional help and, perhaps, a bit more attention at home." She paused, let a small sigh escape, rubbed her eyes with her right hand, then added, "but, of course, it's your decision, not mine. I can only give my professional and experienced opinion on the matter. Which I've already done."
That did it. Her father pushed back his chair with an awful screech and stood up. Annie didn't even need to look at him to know he was ready to hit the woman. "Well." he barked. "Then we won't take any more of your time, Mrs. Armstrong. Mrs. Wren and I will discuss it further at home. We won't make a hasty decision, I can assure you, but will take into consideration all you've said." He turned to his wife and scowled. "Let's go, Penny," and with a sideways glance at his daughter, spat, "Anne."
Mrs. Wren gathered herself together, bobbed her head twice in the direction of the teacher, and followed her husband out of the classroom, leaving Annie to fend for herself.
Without a glance at her teacher, Annie trailed after her mother down the hall and out to the parking lot. Paul's long strides kept him several paces ahead of them, and both had to jog to catch up. Annie knew her father was beyond angry. He never did like having anyone disagree with him--especially a woman--and Mrs. Armstrong had spent an hour disagreeing with him on one point after another. Her mother, on the other hand, was just plain useless.
Paul Wren reached the car first and flicked the remote button to unlock the doors. Penny Wren yanked open the door on the passenger side and got in without his assistance, glaring over her shoulder at the fourteen-year old girl climbing into the back seat.
"Well, that was a lot of fun." Mrs. Wren said. "Annie, I've had it with you."
Paul started the car without a word, but his daughter could tell from the way he pursed his lips and made that funny little whistling noise that he was ready to explode.
"Go to hell," Annie mouthed behind her mother's back. Louder she said, "So, what are you going to do? I mean, do I have to stay in remedial math? It's not helping, you know. The teacher is a complete moron."
"Not only are you remaining in the remedial math class, missy, you will also be attending the after-school tutoring sessions three times a week. And, what's even more important," Mrs. Wren paused for effect, "you will no longer be participating in orchestra. Or any extracurricular activity. So there. You heard what Mrs. Armstrong said. See what your silly dramatics have brought you?"
Annie's stomach tightened. Finding her voice, she burst out, "She didn't say anything about not taking orchestra. I was there, remember? She said to take remedial math and get some tutoring. I've been in orchestra since fourth grade. Orchestra is the only thing keeping me alive. I only go to school so I can be in orchestra. Playing the violin is my one and only talent--my only outlet. You can't take me out of orchestra now. It's not fair. I'll lose all the ground I've gained." She swallowed the bile slithering up her throat.
"Oh, for crying out loud, Annie. Grow up. You made your bed and now you have to lie in it," her father barked as he pulled onto the main street paralleling the school.
Annie winced at his tone but continued her weak defense. "But I don't understand. Why am I being punished just because I'm not good in math or social studies? I'm going to be a concert violinist, for crying out loud, not a lousy schoolteacher. I'm not planning on attending an Ivy-League College, you know. I'm going to Julliard."
"You're going to an accredited college." her father barked.
"Julliard is accredited."
"You'd never be accepted into anything as prestigious as Julliard. Not with your grades. You'll be lucky to get into a state school. In all likelihood, a community college is where you'll go."
"Where you'll major in something more substantial than music," her mother added.
"What? Substantial? And you think being elbow-deep in nasty clay is substantial?"
Annie knew she'd hit a nerve. Her mother turned in her seat and glared at her. "Yes, I do. I'm an accomplished artist, as was my mother, and making pretty decent money, too, I might add. You know my work is featured in the best galleries around. And I've received high praise and countless accolades from the university."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I'm an artist, too, Mom. Every bit as good at what I do as you are at your medium."
"Oh, Annie. You have no idea what it takes to be an artist in any field. I went to college and earned a degree. I paid my dues. I didn't fail any of my classes--high school or college--and I expect no less from you."
Annie tried a different tack. "Jenny's parents aren't making her take the class, and she's just as lousy in math as I am. You're not being fair. It's wicked in fact. I think the authorities would label it abuse." The bile reached her mouth.
"Anne Veronica, you are not being punished because you are not good in math or social studies ... or language arts, for that matter," her mother said. "And what Jenny Kim's parents do is not any of our business. We are only concerned about you and you have been neglecting your work, slacking off, refusing to finish assignments. You've been impudent and rude. You've been lazy and selfish. You've been--oh. I give up. I don't want to discuss it another minute. The subject is closed. You are out of orchestra and in remedial math and after-school tutoring. You, young lady, are through with your little charade."
Penny Wren turned on her husband. "For crying out loud, Paul, slow down. You're driving too fast, and you know how nervous that makes me. My nerves cannot take any more stress. And please, Paul, would you put both hands on the wheel."
"Quit nagging me, Penny. Can't you refrain, just once, from nagging every freaking time we get into the car? It's always 'slow down' or 'get in the other lane' or 'don't follow too closely'--just keep quiet and let me drive. Pick, pick, pick. That's all you do."
Annie pressed back against the seat and closed her eyes. She had to will the storm-tossed waves in her stomach to subside or face the humiliation of throwing up in the backseat of her father's immaculate Porsche. This was the way it always was. Her parents either yelled at her or at one another. They were never happy. Never. She couldn't remember a time when they'd been happy; didn't think she could even imagine a time that they'd been. Remind me never to marry. Maybe Howard Hughes had the right idea. Find a safe place and hide. What's the use?
The twisting, roiling in the pit of her stomach that their constant bickering always stirred up was intolerable. Half the time, she worried that they'd get a divorce, and the other half, she prayed they would. All she wanted was peace and tranquility and a quiet stomach. And music. Wonderful, harmonious, beautiful music. I want it to flood over my heart and mind and soul with intricate simplicity.
She'd read that phrase somewhere and had repeated it until it became her own. Music was intricate. And, at the same time, incredibly simple. I can't take any more of this clashing, strident, too-loud noise that's poisonous and obscene. It's making me sick.
Annie closed her eyes and tried to draw an invisible bow across an imaginary violin. It didn't work. She couldn't create her mental music. That's how she knew their constant bickering had taken its toll, had reached the point of no return. She feared that this was the way it would be from now on--no more music. The music was gone. Vanished. Forever lost in the interminable void of anger and pettiness, confusion and noise.
Frigid silence accompanied their ride home. That was the way the fights ended these days--in brutal silence. A great big, empty, silent nothingness--worse than the noise. Neither her mother nor her father ever conceded an inch, and it occurred to Annie that she'd never heard either one apologize. Not ever. Both clung to his or her imagined wrong and refused to give in.
They are worse than spoiled children, Annie mused with an inward sneer. And they call me childish and spoiled. What a joke. What a freaking joke.