Valerie Sirr's 'Tempo'


You angle the plastic stick. You check the instruction sheet. Pee gets on your fingers
          Outside dopplered music heralds the approach of an ice cream van. Children shout, a dog yelps in time to Mendelsshon blasting calliope style from loudspeakers.
          Children come running.
You think of the tent at the garden féte: wind walloping the roof, notes flying against it. Your new Alice band tightening, your fingers light on ivory keys. Spring Song from Songs Without Words. Careful to stroke the arpeggios gently, notes quiet and tranquil like a harp. Your timing immaculate. Your first prize.
          The stick waits on the bedroom sill. A neighbour’s child cries. A burst of April sunshine spotlights your talcy footprints, new lines at your mouth, your music trophies’ marble sheen: ‘I would like to take this opportunity…’ You were careful never to leave out important names. Careful not to slip on the steps from the stage. You wore killer heels. Cameras flashed. You were blinded.
          Outside a drainpipe drips like a fast metronome. Your fingers tap absent keys, trying to catch up.

*Valerie Sirr holds an M. Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin, and her fiction has been widely published. She is the recipient of several literature awards, including the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award. She teaches creative writing and literature appreciation.

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