CONCERTMASTER ALEXANDER BRYCE smiled and folded his hands in his lap. It was finally decided. The orchestra had a new leader.
"So, Sasha, what do you think?" asked the President of the Symphony, John Baylor. The meeting had just concluded and the Board was congregating socially around the remaining coffee and scones. Sasha had not moved from his chair, squeezed in awkwardly at the corner of the boardroom table. Orchestra members were not usually present at these meetings, but this was a big announcement. It would be his job to relay the news to the rest of the musicians.
"I think it's wonderful, " Sasha said. "A very exciting choice, indeed."
"Exciting, yes!" Baylor said. "Exciting is the key word here. We think Peter Dreshevsky will be that breath of fresh air we need to rejuvenate the symphony. You know, younger audiences, edgier programs, bold new projects involving the Internet in some manner or another.
And we're one hundred percent committed to supporting his vision. I'm serious, Sasha. We are going to let this maverick lose on the city!"
"Oh, wow," Sasha said.
Baylor grinned. "You know, he mentioned you."
"Yes, during the interviews. So, you've worked together?"
"Yes," Sasha said. "A few times, actually, but most recently in Toronto. He was guest conductor for a long stretch while I was principle violin. We worked well together. I learned a lot from him."
"Well, you must have made an impression on him because he asked about you more than once. So, you two were close?" Baylor asked.
"Yes," Sasha said.
"Do you keep in touch?"
"No," Sasha said.
"Well, it looks like you have an opportunity to rekindle that creative collaboration," Baylor said.
Baylor said, "He's moving into his office this weekend, if you want to stop in. I'm sure he'd like to see you."
"I certainly will," Sasha said and then stood and offered Baylor his hand. "Congratulations, sir, on your excellent decision. I will convey the news to the others." Baylor accepted Sasha's hand and they shook. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to excuse me," Sasha continued. "I must prepare for next week's rehearsal and the day is slipping away as we speak!"
He made his way to the door, weaving carefully between the board members, and exited. He continued briskly down the hallway. The administrative wing of the symphony hall was sterile, still and silent. There was no place more dignified, more secure, more safe. Sasha loved it here. He loved the soft sound of his loafers on the plush carpet beneath his feet. He loved the Italian sconces and their gentle light. He loved his office, his parking space, the locker where he kept his violin and he loved his fellow musicians. The symphony was his true home and in it he enjoyed the kind of quiet domestic bliss he found nowhere else.
Sasha stopped in the middle of the hallway, forgetting the work that called him away so urgently just minutes before, and turned to stare out a window at the city street below. His clear blue eyes were a little wider than usual and his lips were pressed a little tighter. He was perspiring very slightly. Perspiring, even very slightly, was something Sasha almost never did. In fact, there were only a scant handful of circumstances in which he could recall having perspired at all.
Sasha touched his fingers to his temple and closed his eyes as a rush of heat rose to his head. This is a disaster, he thought. An utter disaster. I'm going to have to resign from my post.
Again. Yes, again. Sasha resigned from his post the last time the shit hit the fan, but on that occasion it could be more easily dressed as "opportunity" thanks to a conveniently timed position that opened in his hometown.
Sparse raindrops began to fall on the sidewalk as he became aware of a small butterfly turning somersaults in his stomach. Of all the places he could have gone, thought Sasha, he chose to come here, to me. A strange swirl of horror and delight clouded his brain. He wasn't going to resign from his post. This disaster was far too tempting.
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