‘Just GO!’ David yelled.
Mikayla remained where she stood, holding her euphonium as if it were a baby. She could feel every band members’ eyes on her; they watched closely, while appearing to read their music sheets. This stand-off had the capacity to blow up.
‘I said go. Just leave if you don’t like it,’ David said through clenched teeth.
Mikayla fumed. She would do this piece much differently. Her interpretation of the music was to keep it flowing, whereas David favoured staccato. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again.
About eighteen months ago, Mikayla was the bandmaster. She began to grumble about the workload, that no one respected her, that she wanted to give up and just play with no responsibility. She wasn’t serious, but senior leadership took her at face value and put out feelers for a replacement. David was selected and she reluctantly stood down from her position.
‘I can’t believe they gave it to David,’ she had complained to her husband, Will.
‘Well, you were saying the workload was too much,’ Will responded. So, not much support from him, she’d thought at the time. She decided to stay in the band and keep her eye on David, to wait for him to fail.
Except the band was flourishing. More gigs, greater camaraderie in practice sessions, wider variety of music chosen. Mikayla was outdone.
Now, with the heat of twenty eyes staring and David’s words burning a hole through her ears, she sat back down in her seat. She placed her instrument on her lap.
‘I’ll stay,’ Mikayla said.
‘Fine, but I’ll speak further you after practice,’ David said. He tapped the baton on his music stand; each member lifted their instruments and readied themselves for the baton to fall.
Half an hour later, Mikayla and David were in the cafe across the road from the band hall.
‘I can’t have you in the band if you persist in undermining me,’ he said. He took a sip of his coffee and held eye contact with her.
‘But I’m not unde—’
‘I know what you’re doing,’ David snarled, cutting her off. ‘I know about the conversations, particularly with the female members. I know that you’re attempting to gain a following to support you to take back the position. I know that you’re stirring the members by noting how differently you’d lead the band through arrangements.’
Mikayla placed her hands in her lap and stared at the rings on her fingers. She bit the inside of her cheek to stop the tears stinging her eyes from spilling onto her cheeks. The last thing she wanted was to appear weak in front of him.
‘Can you promise me this will stop?’ David asked.
‘OK, then. But I’m warning you, the first sign of you stirring the nest again, and you’re out. I won’t tolerate it. Understood?’
‘Yes, David,’ Mikayla answered meekly. She grabbed her euphonium case at her feet. ‘Thank you for understanding.’ She cleared her throat as she rose. ‘And for the second chance.’
With a flick of her long blonde hair, she left the cafe.