by Gail Denham
If that metronome doesn’t stop swinging soon, I’ll flip out. My thoughts were
dangerous at this point. I laid the instrument face down and kicked the piano stool.
“Enough! Enough”. Greg jumped. Didn’t realize I’d yelled out loud.
Greg grabbed my arms, pinned me tight and murmured “Hush, Vicky. it’s ok. You’re
working too hard. Concert isn’t till next week. You’ll get it right. Timing isn’t
everything. It’s your style, your interpretation that will wow any audience.” He patted my
“ Come on. Time to explore. There are serious sights here we must see. Remember
we’re in the historic section of wonderful old London.”
As I relaxed against my sturdy too-right hubby, my live nerves, the ones that made my
legs twitch even when I tried to relax, gave over a bit. I felt muscles in my upper arms let
go. I sank to the sofa.
All my life had been about perfection. No room for error. “Get it right,” my father, my
professor, or the director would cry. They might speak in soft tones, but the meaning was
“That’s who you are Vicky,” my father intoned. Your gift, your talent is worth every
sacrifice. I want the best to flow down your neck through your arms, into those long
They didn’t realize that “priceless” endless instruction and bantering ignored the part
where my heart near exploded each time I sat under bright lights. I knew I’d never be
good enough for any of them.
Greg set a glass of wine on the side table. When I felt steady enough, I raised the glass,
sipped. If only I could sit here in this comfortable hotel room all evening. ”Come on,
hon.” Greg was insistent. “Old town is out there calling our names. They’ll be lighting
the street lamps soon.”
The night was one I’d never forget. As we walked, I tried hard to forget the piano, the
hassles, the monotony of one more concert.
We sat at an outdoor café. The espresso was wonderful, strong enough to spread on
bread. Sandwiches thin and delicious. “Magic,” I whispered as two men, all in black
capes with red lining, wearing stovepipe hats, plunked down short ladders and climbed to
light the gas lamps all along the boulevard.
“Thanks Greg. Thanks for dragging me away. Evenings like this I forget there’s such
a thing as a gleaming grand piano, a strident metronome, or little black notes running all
over the page.” I sighed and leaned back.
“No ladies, dressed in shimmering gowns, gloved hands resting on silk, their faces,
properly made up, smiling up at me. No men in tuxedos pulling at their collars, looking
bored and impatient. Couldn’t we sit here maybe for days, a year. Never go anywhere we
didn’t want to go.” My voice sounded whiney, even to me.
Reluctantly we strolled back toward the hotel. Turmoil and dread crept through my
body, like the sticky evening fog that now flowed off the Thames. Next Tuesday, only
four days away. “Oh Lord,” I breathed.
I didn’t see the small dog skitter in front of us, his long leash affixed to the short
plump woman’s arm. My hands broke my fall. There was sudden blackness as my head
hit the sidewalk.
“What happened,” I whispered when I woke. A lamp by the bed showed my wrists
wrapped in bandages. I lay under a light cover, still wearing the frilly pink slip Greg had
bought for me yesterday. Greg held my hand, gently, but even his light touch hurt.
“Greg. Oh no. I didn’t mean it. Did I wish this accident. What’s to happen?”
Greg wrung out a cloth, laid it on my forehead. His gaze was warm, but cautious.
“Doc says it’ll be weeks and lots of therapy before you’ll play again, if……
“Oh, and you have a mild concussion.”
“Daddy will be furious,” I moaned.
“Be still. Try to forget everything but rest and healing. Your father can have a word
with the buxom lady and her dog. She sends sincere apologies, by the way.” Greg said.
“I’m sure your father speaks with a proper English accent, as well as all his other
accomplishments.” Greg, my sturdy hubby, now wore a sly grin.
For the first time in days, weeks, a year, calm began. Quiet shivered down my painful
wrists to my swollen fingers. For now, this was “getting it right”.