Wounds,—a new cure for.—
Dave practiced a lot for his onstage violin audition with a top-tier theatre. He was angry with himself that he couldn't get the excerpt up to tempo while memorized. He thought about canceling the audition. He worded the email in his head.
He tried different approaches. He took breaks. At around three I walked by the living room and heard him berating himself, “First finger is first measure,” or something like that.
Later we watched Gentleman Jack and then I went up to bed. He stayed downstairs and practiced some more. It sounded springy and spirited, but with these abrupt stops that made me wonder, “Is he thinking or is that how the excerpt goes?”
I was doing the mini crossword when he came upstairs and stood at the foot of the bed. “I'm not doing the audition,” he said abruptly. “I just emailed them.” I couldn’t answer because I was over a minute into the crossword and what I’d thought would go quickly was stalled, which was particularly frustrating because my time the day before had been so bad I hadn’t texted it to Dave in response to his. His time usually beats mine, often by several seconds, but the day before he beat me by four minutes so I decided to forget to text back because I felt like it would look like my mind is slipping.
I was now desperate to redeem myself so I could text this new time and maybe he wouldn’t ask why I hadn’t sent yesterday’s. I had TALLY for Dawdling or taking too long, and that seemed right but the last couple clues weren't coming together. My fingerpads were starting to sweat.
Dave left the room and I couldn't hear exactly where he went. The bathroom door didn't shut. Then I realized that it should be TARRY instead of TALLY, and the other words fell into place. I was angry or more accurately puzzled that I'd plugged in TALLY and wondered which exact part of my brain conflated TARRY and DILLY-DALLY.
Usually we text our mini crossword times as soon as we finish, but I didn't want to text Dave my 2:12 — not good, but at least he couldn’t be four minutes faster — until I knew where he was. I went out to the hall and saw him sitting on the stairs. His knees were up and he was sitting on the first landing with his head in his hands.
I came down a couple steps and sat above him. I touched his back. He sat silent. Then I realized he was crying into his hands. I couldn't see his face. I kept rubbing the back of his shoulders as he leaned forward. He stopped crying and then started again and then stopped again. Finally he said, “I wonder if I'll ever learn to stop sucking the joy out of being a musician.”
The next morning Dave played the excerpt again and it sounded wonderful. The stops sounded like dance breaks. When we were at the dog park he said, “I told them another opportunity came up, which wasn’t a lie.” Sometime during the night, when I was asleep and he must have been doing the mini crossword (1:27), he realized that although he wants to pursue both violin and acting at the highest level he’s capable of, onstage musician roles rarely allow for either one.