Mozart died at 35 and thus never came to know the indignities of an old man’s bladder.
If he had, he would, Colm thought, have made his Symphony no.41 shorter, or — at least – perhaps made the second movement a little less ‘adagio’.
He twisted in the plush seat in an attempt to shift the excruciating pressure from one side of his abdomen to the other.
Were his wife still alive she would be hissing at him right now from the adjacent seat, admonishing him for ‘not going before it started’ and – especially – for the pre-concert beer to which he had treated himself in the foyer.
The simple truth was, he didn’t really enjoy classical music: he never had. He’d only ever come to these dirges to keep her company, and now she was gone it was an automatic habit which persisted in the way hair and fingernails are said to continue growing post mortem.
The pain now was unbearable. He knew he couldn’t hold on. The violins and the cellos were joined bv the bassoons and the brass. A stretto between the high and low strings leading inevitably to the coda’s five-part invertible counterpoint. He squeezed his thighs together. But there was no stopping the contrapuntal climax when it came: a tidal wave that crashed over the auditorium and burst out through the doors of the concert hall, gushing down the steps and into the surrounding streets, sending the French horns clanging into lampposts and the strings skittering down the gutters, whining like drowning cats.
The conductor raised his arms. There was a fleeting silence – a glitch – before the audience stood as one to acclaim the orchestra. All except Colm, who remained seated and who — in his spreading humiliation — wished himself not just miles away, but years.
Originally from Manchester, Tim Craig now lives in London. A winner of the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction, he has also placed third — and been commended — in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. His teeny-tiny stories have appeared in the Best Microfiction Anthology 2019 (ed Dan Chaon), the New Flash Fiction Review and in the BIFFY50.
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