The Conductor This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 14, 2012
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The Conductor

Three small taps of His baton, and the crowd was silenced. Players straightened tentatively- arched their backs with the heavy burdens of metal. One flick of His wrist, and the instruments were raised- weapons primed against the deafening strokes of silence, a collective exhale before the storm. One drop of His arm, and the kingdom of brass erupted like a roaring elephant. A jolt of His hand, and the city of drums clapped the air- an outburst of war crying from their beating hearts. One man at the helm, and suddenly the room was alive.
The music roared faster- rows of brass raging, a dependable presence, a stable empire on the throbbing stage. The drums beat like raw hearts, left pounding blood on the cobble sidewalk. Every pulse shook Him- the deafening blows of every smash enveloping a blind fury. An intense windstorm slapped the chimes- rang the air back and forth with the chaos of swollen sound. And the roaring of the brass and the pounding of the drums and the beating of the chimes swirled together- a cloud of ringing sound pinned the auditorium walls, and then the bass pulsed softly, the tambourine shuffled and the triangle rang and the tubas blared and the trumpets cried and the room shook with the waves of hymn.

An inhale and sudden silence.

One moment of still; only The Conductor raised His eyes. Everything stopped- for just a second- as the players’ puffed air into the deflated sacks, as the ring of sound vanished, as the pulsating cry of the band was dispersed. And He was alone- just a man, tentatively arched on a wooden stage, his back, heaving to the chairs, his hands raised, quivering in suspense.

Silence, and the demons crept out from pillars of stone, gargoyles shifting on their pedestal homes. The stage teetered- a swaying block of wood just inches from the open mouth- a bead of sweat fell, a rock tumbling down the crag, sent flying into the screeching abyss and down, down into darkness.

An exhale as the instruments rang back to life- sound once more. Players shifted fingers on their instruments, caressing the notes as if nothing had stopped- as if there had been no silence. And The Conductor raised his arms once more- this time swung violently. His wrists twitched and bent- the wand in His hand flying left and right as the orchestra flew faster and faster, trying to keep pace with the buzzing movements.

Quicker, sharper orders- a throbbing began to swell in the conductor’s tiring limbs. Faster, faster; shallow breathing, jolting movements; faster; the whir of the crowd, the sweat of the conductor; faster; the pounding orders- beating harder and harder to avoid that steeping moment of silence. That heart-sinking, marrow-scratching string of tranquility. Faster and faster. Until sharp orders rounded to flailing spasms, quick movements to desperate lunges. The crowd sat motionless, not a soul stirred as the conductor crumpled to the floor.

And the sound rang out- one final echo across the empty caverns of the auditorium. A final cry before the crashing death of the music. One final breath as the arms spilled out across the stage, the hands loosened as the baton spilled from the fingertips and crashed away from the lifeless body, away from just another man in a suit.

Everything lay quiet. A swollen silence, beating heavily with the weight of exhaustion, with the weight of death. Pierced lightly from the smallest flute in the farthest corner of the stage, by a light, innocent cry. One solemn ray of light, emerging from behind the curtains, allowed to creep, as a child in his pajamas, silently through the darkness, through the empty auditorium. Its only companion a crumpled man, shards of soul that paved the stage.

And that single, prolonged hymn fluttered across the room: a pedal in the warm summer wind. The pedal We never saw. The note He never heard.

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