Today is a big day. But Max is neither nervous nor excited.
Sitting behind his drums, he stares at the thousands cheering for him. As always, he's empty and upset.
"Look at my 'dum', dad", 3-year-old Max said with a toothy smile.
Sitting on his dad's lap, he tried to hit his wooden drum. "It's better this way, son", said his dad, gently correcting how Max held the stick. Max's smile widened as he heard the loud "bang". He kissed his dad's hand as a way of thanking him.
When he was about 4, Max heard those loud voices for the first time.
He realised they were his parents' voices, but they sounded upset. Max got scared, and he hid under the bed while the voices continued in the next room.
The voices got louder each day.
Finding them unbearable, Max started beating his drum harder. And harder. He could still hear the voices.
"Son, I'm leaving. I'll see you in a few days," said his dad.
Max didn't understand. Why did his dad have to leave? He asked his mum, but she didn't have an answer. She just held him and cried.
Max got upset.
So upset that when his dad came to see him, he refused to open the door. He just kept banging his drums. Louder. Louder. Until his dad went away. And he refused to see his dad the next time as well. Never again. And he kept banging his drums. Louder. Louder.
As he looks at the crowd one last time before the performance, Max sees a familiar face in a corner.
And a smile that reminds him of his wooden drum and the stick right held and the sweet "bang".
Then Max delivers the performance of his life.