|He heard his name called.
"M--Marquis Qinu, contestant #1."
A sudden jolt, a sudden fright. Marquis hadn't bothered to check the sheet for his place in the order of contestants, perhaps confident he wouldn't be first. He had always thought being first was for the inadequate pianists...he didn't know why. Perhaps the reason was the saying, "Save the best for the last".
Well, now that he'd finally convinced himself that he was a good pianist, he wasn't about to be let down. Marquis stood up confidently, plastering on a smile he tried to craft realistically. The anticipating eyes of the audience turned to him as he stood, and Marquis gulped. He took a shaky breath in, willing himself to calm down.
The couple yards it took to walk from his seat to the stairs of the stage were undoubtedly the hardest moments of the day.
The ascent up the stairs strained his legs more than any hiking trip he'd ever been to.
Walking towards the piano was a very grave moment. In front of an audience, he became extremely self-conscious.
After a little, the piano loomed in front of him. Despite him being taller than it, the darkness of the grand piano reflected the chandeliers in the hall, creating an even more imposing look.
Marquis turned his back to it, let out a breath, and took a deep and formal bow. He reached for the microphone that was now in front of him and announced both his name and the pieces he were to play. Another bow and he slid onto the piano bench.
A brief moment was taken to think carefully about his pieces. Then, his hands lifted into position, his feet on the pedals...and he began.
The music filled his ears, louder and more alarming than he expected. He played with a ferocity he didn't know he had, striking every chord passionately.
Halfway through the piece, he became aware of his surroundings, like every time he performed.
Oh wait, he thought, this piece is by Chopin...
Marquis immediately quieted, putting more effort into his feet rather than his hands. The music came a bit more naturally as he grew used to the piano. He realized the pedals were slightly weathered, and the keys sticking the slightest bit. To a pianist like Marquis, these small problems could be catastrophic, so he tried to take his mind off of it. Instead, his eyes flickered to his audience, and he attempted to plaster a smile on his face.