“She’s got potential.” Mary Dailey’s pen hovered over a score sheet. She was thinking of herself more than the young flautist who had just left the room. She remembered being fifteen with coltish nerves.

“You’ve said that about every one of them.” Her colleague and fellow judge Janet Green tapped a pencil on the table, and the third judge, Mitch Engel shook his head.

The auditions proceeded, and Mary’s nerves clamped around her wrist so she could barely fill out the forms.  Janet said, “It’s your first year. It gets better after  you’ve done it awhile.” Still, when it was over, Janet, and Mitch made most of the selections with minimal input from Mary. But they were left with two flautists’ sheets and one remaining slot. So Janet said, “You cast the deciding vote”.

Mary stared at her notes about the young women, her mind paralyzed.

“Let me make it easier.” Janet laid out her own judging sheets and Mitch’s alongside Mary’s. “Which of them is best?”

“It’s so hard to decide.”’ Mary studied the pages for a little while longer. Finally, when her stomach muscles were so taut she felt like vomiting, she turned on her stone heart and pointed to the page on her left. “Lana, then,” she said. “She has more technical mastery than Bridget.”

Now that the choice was made, Mary felt a flush of discomfort creeping up her cheeks.  The other judges had thirty years of experience between them to back up their final decision. She had a teaching certificate and a music degree. She picked up her purse and scurried out of the room, eager to be gone before Mitch put up the sheets.  Mary had never failed at an audition. In the end, she always made it. Yet she didn’t want to meet her younger self in the hall. She didn’t want to look backwards and see disappointment instead of relief.


I placed third last week in Trifxctra with the last line from Divorce: A Love Story. Third is a fabulous place to be if you are a Trifectan, so I’m a happy little camper. It’s so validating when other writers agree that the last line of a published piece works. This week, I hope you’ll show a little heart and come play with us!

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Auditions — 26 Comments

  1. I’m guessing this is your trifecta piece? Good call on the story. I’ve been in Mary’s seat before, I hated it! Honestly? I’d rather be in the position of being turned down than turning down others. I guess I can count my lucky stars! 😀
    Hop over and visit Marie’s recent post My First TimeMy Profile

    • Whoops! I played flute through ninth grade. I used to have really boring discussions about the terminology. I always liked Flautist beter than Flutist. But yeah, it does have a kind of music snob sound to it 🙂

    • Indeed – they have to pick someone. But that can be so hard to remember when the word “someone” always seems to be followed by “else”.

    • Yes – I’d be in agony. I mean, I hate judging races when my kids shout “Last one to tag Mom is a rotten egg!” I’d be a flop as a professional judge.

  2. For me that kind of ‘official’ judgement would be hard because I’m so used to disappointment and don’t want to be responsible for making it happen to someone else. You’ve shown another side of it here, one that feels just as awful. For a person to remain in a position with that kind of pressure, I suppose they have to learn detachment. Otherwise, how would they survive the stress?

    • I know I couldn’t! For reasons known only to itself, Word Press logged you as “anonymous” and dropped you into my moderation queue 🙂

  3. My comment disappeared (and my brain hurts), so let me just say that I thought you did well here, showing another stressful side to this kind of situation besides the one I’m so familiar with — the crushing disappointment.

    • I hate hoping for things, because I wind up crushed. It’s something I try to avoid. If I participate in a competition, I make a conscious decision to do it for the atmosphere and learning experience. As long as I expect to lose going in, the hope doesn’t assail me with hurt, and I get a nice surprise if I don’t lose. I found your original comment – it had gotten swallowed into the moderation queue 🙂

  4. Another good story from you. You’ve probably been told by now that your link on this week’s Trifecta goes back to trifecta instead of here; well it did for me anyway.

    • Yeah – Ruby Machanda had the damn same problem. Dunno what’s up with that. Doubtless I fucked up. I thought it was only a problem in twitter. SOunds like I just plain screwed up. Surprised I am not

  5. I’ve been the one at the judges table, hoping to make the right decision. It’s hard sometimes knowing you are about to disappoint someone deserving, but you can only pick one.
    Hop over and visit Tara R.’s recent post End of the line?My Profile

  6. I did several of those music competitions as a child. I did fairly well at them but would be so nervous I’d just about lose my lunch. I never thought about the idea that the judges might have difficulty making choices…it was all about me, after all 🙂
    Hop over and visit jannatwrites’s recent post There Must Be Hawaiian Mangoes In HeavenMy Profile

  7. Oh, it’s been so long since I did an audition, but you capture that sense of what’s at stake so well. I’ve been on that side of it but thankfully never the last word; what a responsibility!
    Hop over and visit Annabelle’s recent post Trifecta: HeartMy Profile

  8. I love the phrase “Mary’s nerves clamped around her wrist” – such a brilliant description of how it feels. I also really like how you used the “heart” prompt. Nicely done!
    Hop over and visit Christine’s recent post Summer NightMy Profile

  9. “She didn’t want to look backwards and see disappointment instead of relief.” I can relate to this line. I know that feeling. UGH. Great job capturing this, JQ!
    Hop over and visit Mel’s recent post FINDING MY WAY BACKMy Profile

  10. “she didn’t want to meet her younger self in the hall” tells me absolutely everything and why I love this story. I’d feel the same way. Heartbreak, for whatever reason, is never easy and causes pain.
    Hop over and visit Gina’s recent post Oh The Things It Makes You Do…My Profile

  11. As one of two judges of a twice-weekly writing challenge, I can definitely relate to this one. There’s nothing worse than saying “no” to someone, particularly when they’re baring their soul and their art for you. Art is tricky. Judged art is a few steps beyond tricky. Thanks for linking up.
    Hop over and visit Trifecta’s recent post Trifecta: Week Thirty-NineMy Profile