by Kayt Burgess
When Blanche first began singing, she was humble, eager, willing to work, willing to learn. Now she is headstrong, condescending, unprofessional, and just a tiny bit full of herself. She is also the closest to genius that Antoinette, her accompanist, may ever have a chance to work with.
MODERATO. A-FLAT MAJOR. SIX/EIGHT time. Piano, delicate, a Victorian music box, but supportive. Staccato both hands, no flippancy in the bass. Light pedal.
I note it in my sheet music.
Blanche won’t be pleased. Singers like the reverb. Mine says it makes her feel more resonant, gives the impression of feedback non-existent in these rehearsal rooms. Always straining to hear herself but never listening. If she listened, she’d hear that, when I use this pedal, her music is boue.
My hands are cold. So are my feet, but they don’t matter, especially if I’m not using the pedal. And I’m not, even if Blanche complains. And she will. Well, not if she doesn’t show up. But she needs to show; the opera opens in less than a month.
She better not be on. I don’t think I can handle her at full capacity today. I shouldn’t have walked by the rehearsal hall this morning. I know better. Two more lessons. By then it’ll be late, and everyone will be gone, and I won’t have to worry.
I need a coffee. I wonder if she’ll bring me one. She hasn’t in a while, but she used to. Back when she listened, she knew I took it strong and black. Always sly, she would ask if she was bringing me coffee or a man. I said coffee because, knowing my luck, anyone she brought me would just need me to play the piano for them.
Quarter past. But I bet that’s her tromping down the hall. If she wore flats, she wouldn’t sound so elephantine. I suppose it doesn’t matter how she sounds as long as her legs look thin.
“Sorry, Antoinette,” says Blanche, my soprano, as she enters the cork-walled rehearsal room in a snow-covered flurry, tossing faux-fur coat and designer handbag to the ground. Her cheeks are flushed with cold, eyes bright, manic. Her blonde bangs stick to her forehead. Coffee? I look to both of her tiny, pale hands. None. As she approaches the piano, she unravels the white angora scarf from around her neck and tosses it on the lid. Stray drops of slush melt on the oak slab, superimposed on old water rings. I hate that this piano will have to live out its long life scarred.
I fold her scarf and place it on the bench. Ice crystals melt against my hands. How long has it been snowing? I don’t remember the last time I saw a window.
about the author
Writer, artist, and musician KAYT BURGESS was born in Manitouwadge, Ontario and grew up in Elliot Lake. She studied classical music at the University of Western Ontario and has a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Her novel Heidegger Stairwell was published by 3 Day Books and Arsenal Pulp Press in September 2012. www.kaytburgess.com
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