Flash in the Pantry: Maestro by Cheryl Snell

The conductor’s wife carried his balls in her purse, so he said. She was a bully, convinced that she was smarter than, more successful than, more desirable than he. Plus, her purse was bigger. In rehearsals, he had become so nervous that his baton kept slipping out of his hands. “What’s bugging you?” I wondered. “My wife,” he might have said─ but now I can’t be sure. At the podium, he watched my bowing arm for cues. My staccato, sautillé and spiccato all helped him feel the vibrations through his feet, he said. I wondered if he knew he was deaf. “I love you,” I whispered, to test him. He didn’t answer but launched into the latest story about his wife: how she’d taken to fishing out a can of Mace from the purse where she kept the balls, and setting it like a centrepiece on the table. He recited these details to me in the Green Room with his eyes squeezed shut from the effects of the spray. I held his hand, the one without the ring. I liked him to look less married, if possible, for the sake of my fantasies, which throughout my life have always been the best revenge against reality.

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and the novels of her Bombay Trilogy. Her latest series called Intricate Things in their Fringed Peripheries. Most recently her writing has appeared in Gone Lawn, Sleet Magazine, Necessary Fiction, Pure Slush, and other journals. A classical pianist, she lives in Maryland with her husband, a mathematical engineer.

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