-- Mrs Brett --
When i think of Mrs Brett i don't usually think of what she said or what we were talking about. I think of her smell. The way she had dressed. The way she looked at me. I will never forget this certain glance in her eyes. They were brown, but when the sun was shining they changed to a bright green. Those were the most amazing eyes I'd ever seen. She had pale skin and dark hair - a wonderful contrast. Some little freckles were sprinkled over her nose and cheeks. I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.
She used to teach me music. Eight years that I had spent in highschool I was only interested in Mrs Brett. Classes were every Wednesday at the music room. She used to sit right in front of me. Or rather, I used to sit right infront of her. She could never sit still. She nervously tapped with her foot while she spoke about the differences between j.s.bach and g.f handel. Sometimes she would look up to see if everyone was listening. We were only 9 people in the room. Eight students and her. Everyone was of course listening to what she said. Everyone was attending this class because they knew it was easy to attain a degree in music. And everyone liked Mrs Brett. she was a funny person. If you'd see her, you wouldn't tell it right from the start but if you'd know her better you'd understand. Life hasn't treated her too well. At the age of twentythree she had had a terrible car accident. Her car had crushed into a truck. Frontally. Her spine was broken, as was her pelvis. Almost all of her teeth were knocked out. She had wanted to become a great musician. Her guitar play was amazing. But after that terrible accident her dream and her whole future were destroyed. Unwillingly, she studied to become a teacher. The first few years were horrible. And still, she kept on telling people she didn't like her job. No, really, she hated it. Few of us knew that she did not hate it that much. Otherwise she wouldn't have spent so much time at school. And she really did. She gave extra lessons for guitar and drums. She arranged a school choir, in which I of course took part. And she managed our school's band. I took part in the band as well. I used to be the lead singer. My mum and dad were both highly musical persons. So was I. I could sing. But I had never wanted to. I had never wanted to get up on stage looking down to the audience anticipating my songs. If it had not been for the fun and good times we had had at the rehearsals I would never have joined it. But as Mrs Brett had come up to me once asking me what about joining the band for she desperately needed a singer, I couldn't say no. After all, being a band member meant seeing Mrs Brett more often. It was music class on Wednesdays, band rehearsals afterwards and on Thursdays and choir rehearsals on Monday. I couldn't wait to get there. All my thoughts were about what to wear in order to amaze her. I knew this would never be possible, I was a fool. No, I wasn't. I was just in love. No, this isn't true either. I was obsessed. She was my drug. When I saw her, I felt better. When I didn't see her I felt awful. And when I was supposed to see her but she would not show up I felt miserable. I had been worrying about her all day long. All week long. Until I saw her again. I lived like this for more than two years.
It was two weeks before our performance at prom night. I had asked Mrs Brett whether I could do another extra rehearsal only for singing. I'm a highly self critical person and was still not content with my work. Of course, she agreed. She told me I should come to the hall were celebrations always took place after school. We had this little stage there and there was a piano in the hall. After she had gotten herself something to eat we would start.
She sat down in front of the piano and tuned up her guitar. I was nervous. I used to be nervous whenever I was about to start singing. I didn't really like myself singing and I couldn't understand why ppl wanted me to do so. I was even more nervous because I was all alone in this room. All alone with Mrs Brett who kept on tuning the instrument. I watched her doing so. She looked very concentrated and her eyes scintillated. Then she intoned the first song. "Every breath you take" of The Police. I sang it a couple of times. Afterwards she wanted me to get up at stage to perform the song up there. I did so though I was still nervous. Nervous of failing, nervous of not pleasing her ears with what I sang. Mrs Brett had always been hard to please. She told me to sing the song, a searing love song, for just one special person forgetting all the rest. Still , my voice was trembling. I already sang this song for one special person but this special person being in here with me did not make it too easy for me.
She must have realized how nervous I was because she suddenly came up on stage and I put down the microphone. She came over to me and told me to go on. I did though I had no idea what she was up to. While I started with the first lines of the song once again she stood right next to me watching me singing. I glanced over to her once or twice, she told me to look right into the audience. There was of course no audience but Mrs Brett pretended that there was and had told me I should imagine that the whole hall was crowded with people that had only come here to hear me singing. I think I’ve never felt less comfortable than in this moment. Still, I kept on singing, imagining an audience down there and thinking of the one and only love while singing lines like “how my poor heart aches with every step you take”. And my heart was indeed aching. Right now even more than ever before. I had been in love with that wonderful woman for so long time but I knew it would never be possible to love her the way I wanted to. My lips moved automatically while I thought about how wonderful it would be holding Mrs Brett in my arms and kissing her soft lips. Suddenly I felt something warm at my tummy. Mrs Brett had put her left hand at my tummy, her left at my back. “Stand straight!” she told me and as I stopped singing and looked at her inquiringly she told me to go on. She pressed her left hand tighter against my tummy and all of a sudden my voice sounded deeper and fuller. No trembling, no wrong tunes, nothing. I couldn’t believe it, I had never sung better than now. I turned around to look at her with amazement and wanted to stop again because I couldn’t believe it but she just said “No, don’t stop, go on! That’s wonderful! Go on, go on!” And I did. I felt all alone in this room, just me and the song. I didn’t even feel Mrs Brett’s hand on my tummy anymore. It was amazing. I even felt like I was ten feet tall. Finally, after the last line I slowly put down the microphone and looked at Mrs Brett. She smiled. “Now that’s what I wanted to hear” she said and I was blushing and looked down at the floor.
It was not until some seconds later I noticed that Mrs Brett hadn’t taken her right hand off my back. I looked up to her again and suddenly there she was before me, very close. I don’t remember what I was thinking in this moment I only remember the grandiose feeling that seemed to wash me away when she leaned over and kissed me softly on my lips. A shower run up and down my spine. I felt my hands sweating. My heart seemed to stop beating in this precious moment and my thoughts were running very fast. Is this just my imagination? I asked myself. Desires and wishes running away with me? Am I hallucinating? Am I crazy? Was this really happening?
After some seconds everything was over again. She stepped away from me and looked into my eyes. I didn’t notice that, I felt so overwhelmed with feelings I could hardly stand on my feet. I couldn’t help touching my lips in order to be sure whether this kiss had really happened. “I guess that’s enough for today” I heard her saying but didn’t really hear it at the same moment. I couldn’t stop running my fingers softly over my lips neither could I move. She seemed to notice it and softly touched my shoulder. It was like she had wakened me from an everlasting dream. I looked up and quickly put my hand down. “Yeah, let’s go” I said, trying to sound cool about everything but my voice cracked. Mrs Brett had already left the stage and was about to put the guitar away. I slowly went down the three steps, slowly and with great care because my legs were shaking. Mrs Brett looked over to me and smilingly said “You were very good today!” I shrugged my shoulders. “No, really, I mean it!” she said and I nodded. “If you’re gonna sing like this at prom the whole thing will be marvellous!” I felt myself blushing again. “I guess we don’t need any extra rehearsals for that anymore” she went on while she put the guitar away and grabbed her jacket.
Together we went out of the hall, I waited for her while she was locking the door. Actually, I was waiting for her to say something. But she didn’t. She just turned around and looked at me, wondering why I was still there. “Is there anything else you need?” she asked me and I shook my head. “No,” I hastened to say, “no, there’s nothing” - “Well, then” she answered smiling at me, “we’re gonna see each other tomorrow in class!” I nodded and after I had said good bye I hurried home.
After that she didn’t do anything. She didn’t treat me in a different way. Basically she acted like this had never happened. Every day, every lesson, every time I saw her I waited for a sign of hers. Nothing. I was not more than I ever had been to her. More than a normal student of hers but less than a lover. She didn’t even talk to me about it. She saw me looking at her questioningly but didn’t react. The only thing she did was giving me a knowing smile whenever we met. A smile though that everyone could believe to be a smile she would also have given to anyone else. We went on rehearsing for prom night, whenever I sang “Every breath you take” she said I did a perfect job. And then that smile again. I would smile back at her and I’m sure both of us, not only me, were thinking about what had happened then.
So prom night came and I was a nervous wreck. We had to be there about an hour earlier in order to do a quick final rehearsal and a sound check. Everything was right. Now we had to wait until midnight. Half an hour before I went to the restroom like Mrs Brett had told me. I sat down quietly and tried to calm myself. I was concentrating on my lyrics and notes. I knew I would do perfect. I knew I perfectly knew lyrics and notes. I had sung these songs about hundred times and more. Nothing could go wrong, I thought. When I came out again I saw Mrs Brett indicating that I should come over to her for a second. I walked up to her, she looked deep into my eyes. She told me once more to concentrate on my lyrics and to ignore the audience. To give to songs a meaning and not to be nervous. “No one can do better than you,” she said. She had told me that about a couple of times. This was the first time though I nodded. I knew I would be perfect. Just for her. Then she gave me a pat on the back and held my hand in hers. She gave me a final smile and then she sent me up to stage.
I felt relieved when I could leave the stage again. Our performance had been quite good. Of course I had not been perfect. I knew it. I could never be content with myself. But I felt that I did quite fine. The audience was screaming and did enjoy our performance a lot. While the dance band began to play again we took our equipment back to our cloakroom. Mrs Brett showed up to thank us and tell us that we had been great. Then she came up to me and looked into my eyes. She knew that I could never be content with myself. “You were perfect” she said, placing her hand on my arm. I shrugged my shoulders. “I mean it” she said, less loud. I looked into her eyes. “You made me very proud” she said now, the others couldn’t hear it. Then she gave me that smile again. I didn’t know what to say to that so I just gave her a smile as well. When she had left the ball again, we went on dancing and enjoying our evening, celebrated by the whole school.
I spent my holidays on vacation mostly. A lot of trips to foreign countries, a lot of fun with friends. Not much time to think about Mrs Brett. I kept her picture in my mind all night long though. Autumn came and school started again. Mrs Brett was gone. She had left school not to return ever again. Never to return to any school. She had been teaching enough. She had taken her life off to do the things she always wanted to. She now played in an orchestra again. Accompanying a folk band in South Africa in winter and giving concerts with other retired music teachers at the local conservatory of music.
I saw her again only once. On the back of her first book. A black and white photography of Mrs Brett smiling and looking super proud. Her hair was done, her eyes were shimmering. She looked just perfect in that picture. Better than she ever did before. It was good a good book. A book about everything and anything – her life, her suffering and, in it’s last part, about her loving. In the acknowledgements she was thanking all those she had once loved – and “A., an attentive student of hers ”. Me.