Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Tempo Fiction: Solo

Rivka Streicher

It comes to him there in the chilly dressing room, kicks him in the gut — what happened before he left, hours ago, a concert ago

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

 Mishpacha image


T wo notes. A signal.

Twenty men stand at attention.

A flourish of the conductor’s baton — one note, another — and they lift their instruments.

Behind the curtain, he breathes in the beauty of strings and keys and blasts melding into each other like so many clasped fingers. The first moments always steal his breath away.

Ninety seconds countdown.

I’m not feeling good. I need you. Come home.

He can back away still, fling off the shiny bowtie, leave it to the other men of the night. He looks out onto the stage. Even in the dark he can see the phantom smiles on the musicians’ faces as they prepare to pour themselves into their craft.

He shakes his head.

“Enter Stage.”

The light catches his steps. The hall roars and thunders his name. Twenty musicians, twenty instruments, a conductor from Israel, all there for him. The spotlight is hot, ready. He takes a step into it, his heart lurching — come home. Then he closes his eyes and sings.

Shlomo, Shlomo, Shlomo…

Backstage, he undoes his tie, changes the svelte suit jacket for a sweater, and checks his phone.

Nine missed calls.

Yonatan, the conductor, pokes his head into the dressing room. “Kol hakavod, Reb Shlomo, you hit it tonight”—he bops fist into palm—“like this.”

“Todah for what you did.”

He looks closely at the venerable conductor. Despite the hour, his eyes are full of vigor. Maybe now is a good time to broach the CD collab?

In his hand, the phone flashes.

Text message: Gila.

His finger hovers on “View later.” But nine missed calls?

He sees her wan face. Early pregnancy drains her, and with their three little kids, sleep is a commodity she can little afford. And him being out so much...

It comes to him there in the chilly dressing room, kicks him in the gut — what happened before he left, hours ago, a concert ago.

He throws the conductor an apologetic look and reads.

Gone to hospital with Mom. Kids at Scheinfelds.

The hospital. What?

He speed-dials her phone. Nada. Voice mail.

Tries again. Again.

He grabs his things. Looks back down the hall only once. There is Yonatan, an open bottle of schnapps in his hand, the guys crowding around. He dashes out through a back door and runs to the car.

He tries Gila again. Nothing.

He drives distractedly back to town.

She’d been complaining of pain this afternoon, said she’d even disrupted Dassi’s schedule and put her to sleep so she could go to bed too. And, when he came in from the rehearsal, she still wasn’t feeling well. After a quick supper, she’d said she wasn’t coming to tonight’s concert. He’d thought it a not-so-subtle jab: I don’t like where this is going, where it’s taking you…

He’d cajoled her, feeling ridiculous — What other singer has to beg his wife to come to a concert?

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 584)

Related Stories

I Dare Me: Friday Night Oneg

As told to Elisheva Appel

They are unanimous in their opinion that no one will make fun of me or hate me forever for trying to...

Windows: Full Snack, Full Mother

C. Spira

What do you know? Every woman above the age of 40 sided with my father. They were completely unimpre...

On the House: Chapter 8

Faigy Schonfeld

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Kaylie said sweetly. “These are very pretty. But they’re pro...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Not a Newspaper
Shoshana Friedman A deeper difference between newspapers and magazines
Services in Shards
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Such a painful, malicious lie!”
The Pittsburgh Protests: All Politics All the Time
Yonoson Rosenblum The old rule — “no enemies on the left” — still applies
Danger: School Crossing
Eytan Kobre The hypocrisy of YAFFED’s assertion is breathtaking
Real Laughter and Real Tears
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger The two sides of a life lived with emunah
Work/Life Solutions with Eli Langer
Moe Mernick I was proud to be “that guy with the yarmulke”
Is Ktchong! a Mitzvah? When Prayer and Charity Collide
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman These cannot both be done effectively at the same time
An Honest Shidduch
Jacob L. Freedman “Baruch Hashem I’m cured, and this will be my secret”
A Blessing in Disguise
Riki Goldstein “I never thought the song would catch on as it has”
Ishay and Motti Strike a Common Chord
Riki Goldstein Bringing together two worlds of Jewish music
What’s your favorite Motzaei Shabbos niggun?
Riki Goldstein From the holy and separate back to the mundane
Rightfully Mine
Faigy Peritzman Don’t regret the job you didn’t land; it was never yours
Growing Greener Grass
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Nurture your blessings and watch them blossom
My Way or the High Way
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt We know what we want — but do we know what He wants?