She knew she could play forever if she controlled herself, policed herself, and measured her career in the right way, in beats, bars, ledger-lines instead of wrinkles. She, like the other musicians, looked forward to the next movement, in two bars, when the rise would bring something back, instead of being in that place, that now, where everything was kind of uncertain: It was easier to work hard and look forward with what was to come, because simple math helped you to feel that your work was adding up to something, to that fourth beat after the next seven, an idea that, well, you might have felt was off, this illusion of upward social mobility in a band: Once you’re an alto sax, you’re an alto sax- the conductor isn’t itching to hear your solo before the trumpet blasts. When the conductor hasn’t looked to her section in over eight bars, she feels like something is missing: When the conductor hears an off note, recognizing they can’t control something in the group, everything disappoints them. Her mortality stains the illusion: No matter how many hours spent practicing, she might not get the funding: It makes sense that her trainer wants her to believe that working hard will bring her success, seeing that it makes her a good student. The rawness of her tongue, and the reminder of her mortality, stains the illusion: When she feels pain, her fears grow teeth. Threats make her want to buy reeds, or support whatever conductor, so long as she is safe from things that threaten her conception of time, immortal promises for secular deities in the West. The End of My Tongue becomes a something – a time and place, let’s not talk about it, help me to breathe before my accordion dries to bone.
She loves everything about music, besides the math she loves the way that a sound can be the way a sound should be, normal, not flat or sharp but normal, no semitones, double-flats, just pure, normal, civilized and reliable, the opposite of a threat, something she could invite in for dinner and understand, no need for questions, too many questions and not enough beats in her heart to spend evaluating everything, learning- cue the snare. Everything about trumpet players is disgusting. You can play everything – if you work hard enough. The crazy thing about musicians from other bands is that they can really play normally if they listen to our conductor long enough. What something did the conductor’s everything rely on, when she noticed them watching?