Playing The Field

Entry by: Alobear

23rd September 2016
Annei stretched her hands out in front of her, bent her knees slightly and took a deep breath. She felt a cool breeze against the back of her neck and pushed against it with her mind, sweeping one hand to the side and willing the air away from her body. The space around her stilled, and her mind and body followed suit, slipping into the light trance she had practised to make it second nature.

She readied herself and reached out with her left hand to brush the top of the nearest stalk. A clear, rich, musical note rang out and Annei’s heart soared in response. She felt her breath quicken and fought to remain calm. Only with focus and concentration would she be able to succeed. She stretched further to the next stalk, touching it with the lightest of pressure, and smiled at the deeper note that sounded into the still air.

Annei brought her right hand into motion and added a harmony line from the stalks on that side. She relaxed into the sequence, turning her body as needed and floating her hands from one plant to the next to produce an exquisite and intricate tune. Her movements felt fluid and she was confident in her ability to reach the end without a mistake.

She was only three or four notes from the conclusion when a stronger gust of wind pushed insistently at her mental barrier, and Annei leaned physically backwards to hold it at bay. The extra movement threw her off balance and she over-compensated, taking a step to one side. Her foot struck a large pebble and she stumbled, clutching at the stalks of the plants in an effort to save herself from falling.

A series of harsh, discordant notes ruined the flow of the music, and Annei dropped to her knees, curling her arms around herself in defeat, not wanting to touch anything more out of place.

“No, no, no!” a hard voice cried, the tone weighed down with disappointment.

Annei looked up to see her Field Tutor striding towards her, somehow managing to avoid touching any of the plants whilst still approaching at speed. He stopped in front of her and looked down, his expression stern.

“It’s supposed to be a cereal symphony, not a corn cacophony! You have to pay attention to every aspect of your environment, and be prepared for any variable to change at a moment’s notice. You can’t just lose yourself in the music and ignore the weather. You know this!”

Annei sighed. The Annual Field Instrument Competition was only a few days away and she was far from ready. She had been training hard for months, but now it felt as if everything she had learned was leeching out of her mind into the rough ground.

She met her tutor’s gaze and resisted the growing temptation to just give up. Instead, she pushed herself to her feet, careful of the plants that grew all around her. She calmed her breathing, set her feet and raised her arms to the opening position - to try again.