REHEARSAL • by Shauna Roberts

Panicked, the first violinist blinked his left eye. He could imagine no worse time to get dust in his eye than before his solo in the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Only seconds remained before the conductor would raise her baton and the rustling of sheet music would cease. His eyes filled with tears, blinding him. Thank goodness this was only the dress rehearsal.

The third flautist glanced up and did a double take. That handsome new first violinist was winking at her, his dark eyes luminous. He had never even looked at her before. Her hands trembled as she brought the flute to her lips.

The orchestra began the throbbing accompaniment. The first violinist, looking through his blurry right eye, bowed his opening G.

The third flautist shivered at the sweetness of the note as it arched above the orchestra. The first violinist’s sweeping strokes were sure and confident. When he arrived at the long A in measure 12 and lifted his eyes from the music, she returned his wink. His eyebrows shot up. She winked again.

Flustered, he almost missed his next note. The charming but shy third flautist had winked at him! Twice! Aware of her gaze on him, he leaned toward the winds section and played just for her, this passage sweet, this one poignant, this one inviting.

Her heart pounded against her ribs as the music caressed her. The first violinist was baring his soul to her as if the orchestra and the audience of retirees and students who couldn’t afford seats at the evening performance did not exist.

Between movements, he loosened his tie while pretending to straighten it. She gave him a slow, knowing smile that made his face burn. Watching her, he stroked the sinuous curves of his violin. A glistening bead of moisture appeared between the curves of her breasts and slithered down her skin into the depths of her black velvet gown.

The next two movements flew by in a blur. All she remembered afterward were his broad shoulders straining against his tuxedo as his strokes coaxed moans from the strings. He watched her rounded lips blowing warm breath across the silver shaft.

When the rehearsal ended, he rushed to her side. “That was wonderful!”

“And that was only the rehearsal.”

“I can’t wait for the real performance.” They smiled and left together.

Forty years later, the first violinist and the third flautist still argued about who had winked first.

Formerly an award-winning medical and science writer, Shauna Roberts is a 2009 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. She has published several fantasy and science fiction stories in anthologies and in periodicals such as Jim Baen’s Universe and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. She is also the author of a historical novel, Like Mayflies in a Stream (Hadley Rille Books, 2009). Set in ancient Mesopotamia in the world’s first city, Like Mayflies in a Stream is the story of a priestess of Inanna who risks her life and reputation to free the city from Gilgamesh’s tyranny.

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