Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto number 2 in C minor was played from the CD player that was placed on that room. An off key tune interrupted the beautiful piece of work. It was followed by a slapping sound that came after. A long hair girl stopped her slender fingers from dancing in the piano. She shut her lips tight. She was got used to the stinging pain in her left arm.

“Do your ears stop working or something?” It was a loud and shrieking voice of her mother that finally broke the silent. It was not that silent actually, since the CD player was still playing the piece of work as the background.

“I’m tired.” The girl answered. She didn’t lift her head from her piano nor she moved her hands.

“Tired? But you haven’t finished anything today. We only have three days before the competition day, darling.” The mother approached her.

“Give me 5 minutes.” The girl moved her mother’s hands on her shoulder and got up.

“5 minutes? Anastasia, we don’t have any time for a break. You can’t take a break unless you finish this piece of work. There will be a lot of competitors who are better than you. At least you have to do your best. Rachmaninoff’s work will help you in the first round!” The girl who was just called as Anastasia silently count her mother’s voice… was it 5 octave? 6?

Anastasia clutched her hands and stepped out of her room. Her heavy breath didn’t stop her from walked away as far as possible from his mother’s demanding calls. Why couldn’t she leave her alone just for 5 minutes? What she needed was just a fresh air, which means away from the apartment where she lived with her mother.

“Go! Just Go! It was you who gave up on your own dream!” Anastasia’s mother screamed at her daughter who was walking fast. However those words have stopped Anastasia and made her turned around.

“Mine? Is it mine? Is it mine or is it yours, mother?” Anastasia screamed back at her mother who was stunned at her place. Her face was covered in red.

The cold wind of September in Prague accompanied Anastasia’s large steps. She didn’t know where her steps will lead her. What she knew for now was just run away as long as her mother wasn’t there. It was evening and people started to turn on their light so the street was a bit brighter.

Anastasia felt like crying. She had tried her best alright but her mother kept demanding more from her. Meanwhile just now she felt her fingers stiff from too much practicing. She turned her head from time to time, just to make sure her mother didn’t follow her. However she didn’t catch a glimpse of her mother. She was a bit relieved.

It had been 16 years and they have started since Anastasia was 5. Anastasia’s mother, Susie, was a single parent and she had trained her daughter since she was a child. She wanted to make Anastasia to be a great pianist. They were American, actually. But since Anastasia was 10, they decided to move to Prague. Susie thought Anastasia will get a better education in music if they moved to Prague.

Then the great thing about today was when the droplets of rain started to fall. Couldn’t this get worse? Anastasia kept swearing under her breath while quicken her steps. She was in the middle of the sidewalk and she needed a place to take shelter. A piece of cardigan was only her shield from the cold water that was flowing from the sky of Prague. She never got used to this cold weather even though she had been here for long. People in her surrounding also did the same as her. They ran to the front side of stores, tried to protect themselves from the rain.

Just then Anastasia stopped in front of a coffee shop. There weren’t a lot of people and Anastasia remembered that she hadn’t eaten anything at all since this morning. It took 5 minutes for her to finally enter that coffee shop. The clang of the bell signed her entering to the coffee shop and some of people there were watching her. Then right at that moment, she remembered that she didn’t bring her wallet and cell phone. She was about to leave when a young man approached her.

“May I help you, Ma’am?”

She must have been looked so pathetic right now. Her clothes were damp here and there, not to mention her wet hair. She wanted to disappear from there. Anastasia tried to smile in spite of her awkward posture and unpleasant appearance.

“No, thank you. I forgot something and I need to go…” Anastasia answered as polite as possible.

“But it’s still raining outside. You can wait here if you want.” Said that young man with a deep voice of his.

And it must be a mistake when Anastasia looked up and her eyes met his. The sensation was hypnotic and Anastasia followed him just like that. The young man was taller than her, Anastasia noted. That person also must be in the same age as her, she counted silently.

She sat in corner where it was hidden from the views. The coffee shop was a bit dark with only candles on the tables as the lighting and it somehow comforted her. She will not be seen if people didn’t pay enough attention on her table.

“I’m sorry but actually I don’t bring any money with me right now.”

The young man with blue eyes smiled. He said none and just left her to the back room. This was a bad idea, Anastasia thought. She should have just left. What will that person do to her when she didn’t even have money. Although that person seemed kind and handsome… wait, did she just say handsome? Anastasia bang her head on the table. He is still a stranger.

“Are you okay, Ma’am?” That handsome blue eyed young man came back with a tray in his hand.

“Um, yeah… I’m fine.” Anastasia eyed the tray. This was getting suspicious. Why did that young man give her something when he knew that she had nothing to pay.

“Don’t worry, Ma’am. This would do you no harm.” Could this person read other people’s mind? Anastasia widened her eyes after hearing his statement.

“Thank you very much… but what will your boss say if you give food to a stranger with no money like me.” Anastasia tried to argue because this hadn’t made a sense for her. Just then she realized that that young man wasn’t wearing uniform like the other waiters. Could it be?

“Please just enjoy your food. I won’t ask anything from you.” His eyes, once again Anastasia was like captured by those blue eyes which sparked something endearing… or was it actually just her illusion? The room is dark anyway.

A bell-like chords movement had teased Anastasia’s ears all of sudden. It was familiar. She could feel the stiffness in her fingers once again. Her eyes tried to find the source of that sound.

“Rachmaninoff piano concerto no. 2 in C minor…” She whispered it unconsciously.

“Do you know Rachmaninoff’s work?” The young man asked.

“Um.. yeah.. actually I ran away from it.” She stuttered. Her hands moved to get the food. She was hungry after all. And the young man was still there. As if he waited for something, waited for Anastasia to continue because he just knew that Anastasia hadn’t finished.

 “There are 3 days left for me to prepare for Prague Autumn International Music Competition. Rachmaninoff’s work will be contested for the first round. I need to pass… I…” Anastasia didn’t understand herself why she told her story to that stranger.

“Would you mind if you show me your work after you finish your meal?”

“…I can’t… I haven’t mastered it.” Her confidence slipped away a little.

“But you haven’t tried, and I haven’t heard it. The piano is over there.”

Anastasia never played piano in front of other people except her mother, her teacher and the judges. Her fingers were still stiff, but she couldn’t just say no to this young man after his kindness. She looked for that young man’s blue eyes, she was like trying to ensure herself that he was listening. And there she was… drowning in the confident tunes. The work was often played in an orchestra, but for the competition, it will be played solo. She pressed the piano a bit harder than usual. Show your confidence, Anastasia! Not too slow! You lost your tempo! She closed her eyes and she could imagine her mother was shouting at her endlessly.

“Are you okay?” It was that young man’s voice that opened her eyes and made her realize she was out off tunes.

“… I can’t.” She mumbled. She got up from her seat in front of the piano and made her leave. Her body trembled. What if she failed in the competition? What was she doing in there? Anastasia moved her feet faster. She didn’t walk, she was running. Her heart was clutched tight, her lung was burn. Then it was a hand which pulled her arm and made her stopped.

“Wait. Why did you run?” That young man still had her hand on Anastasia’s arm. The rain had stopped and it’s only the drizzles that left.

“Why did you help me?” She was confused.

“I just helped, that’s all. Why did you run?” The young man asked again.

“Let go. My mother was right. I shouldn’t stop practicing. I should have finished that damn Rachmaninoff. Let go!” Anastasia tried to shove the man’s hand off of her, but he was stronger.

“Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto no. 2 in C minor was Rachmaninoff’s best work. It was composed after his depression when his symphony was such a failure. It should be a glorious melody. It’s not just about a confident playing…”

Anastasia was stunned. Has she ever thought about how was she played the score?

The man slowly removed his hand from Anastasia’s arm. He stepped his feet away from the frozen girl.

“Wait.” Anastasia called.

“Thank you for your help. How do you know about classical music anyway?” It was an awkward question, but Anastasia wanted to know.

He was a bit hesitant at first. “Does it matter?” And that sweet smile again.

She was flustered but thank God the dim street covered it. “Can I come again after the competition is over? Um, I need to pay for my meal.” Then this was getting embarrassing in each moment.


And by that, they parted their ways. This was weird. Somehow Anastasia can’t help but smile.  It was all over her face and yet she didn’t know what kind of this weird feeling that was creeping up in the coldest part of her heart.

When she got home, her mother had welcomed her with a calm yet stern face. A mug was on her right hand when she sat in the soft sofa.

“I’m sorry, Mom.” Anastasia then went to her piano, sat in front of it and started to play.

“You should worry about Victor Adler. He will participate in the competition.” Anastasia stopped her play for a moment and then continued it after her mother stopped speaking. It didn’t matter. She didn’t know about Victor Adler, she didn’t want to know. It was not only confident play, it should be glorious. It should be something grand after a fall.

Anastasia hadn’t stopped practicing since the day she met that young man. She wanted to finish the competition soon. She wanted the best. The Rachmaninoff’s work will be hers.

On the competition day, there come a lot of musicians from all over the world to compete on it. Anastasia had settled. She worried nothing. She had done her best.

“Look! You are number 2! You pass to the next round, darling.” It was her mother who told her about the announcement. Victor Adler’s name was placed in number 1.

“Who is he? Which one is he?” Asked Anastasia. There were a lot of people in that hall.

Her mother then led Anastasia’s direction to a group of people who are smiling and chattering with each other.

“That is Victor Adler, a young talented pianist from Prague who will be your toughest rival.” Susie pointed a handsome tall young man who stood in the middle of that group of smiling people. Anastasia was holding her breath, because it was the same blue eyes that she met on the night three days ago.




Saya tiba-tiba menemukan file cerpen ini pada akun dropbox saya yang lama. Ini adalah cerpen yang saya tulis untuk sebuah tugas kuliah. Saya memutuskan untuk menerbitkan versi aslinya, sebelum nanti (kalau mood) menerjemahkannya ke Bahasa Indonesia.


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