Myka Bering was always expected to go into the family business. She was born to a violinist mother and a cellist father. Her sister chose the violin and Myka was expected to pick up the viola to complete the Bering String Quartet. Instead, she fell in love with the bassoon. Her father has never forgiven her.
Helena Wells was the principal horn of the London Symphony Orchestra until her daughter died in a plane crash on the way to one of her concerts. She had a complete breakdown on stage and subsequently quit playing for years until she met Myka and her goofy trombone playing best friend, Pete Lattimer, on a tour of the Beethoven-Haus. Shortly thereafter, Helena began playing with Myka’s woodwind quintet.
Arthur Nielsen, a conductor famous for both his musicality and his brusque personality, has gathered the finest musicians to record the definitive version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Myka persuaded him to give Helena a chance, but he’s not sure of the woman, especially since it’s rumored that she broke another musician’s arm and ruined his career.
I am quite frankly unsure what this is—a fairy tale? A fable? Something slightly less than that? Let’s just say that this is a weekend, and I thought the word “timekeeper,” and this is what happened. Practice for other things, maybe. We’ll see.
Once, in an eddy of a history that might be yours or mine, there lived a timekeeper. As timekeepers do, she made and sold pieces of time, such pieces as might be fixed with a chain, nestled in a vest pocket, or set upon a mantel such as yours or mine; and, as timekeepers do, she kept time itself for herself.
The timekeeper was beautiful. She had always been the most beautiful girl in the seaside village, the most desired of creatures, with eyes and hair of darkest black. Her hair was still as black as night itself, although of course a timekeeper’s nights are not like yours or mine: night is the time she keeps, the time she saves.
The timekeeper lived alone, as timekeepers do; she seemed to share regularly the company of no other creatures, save a turtle she called Clepsydra, whom she visited by the sea every day, rain or shine, or perhaps it was Clepsydra who visited her, for a sea turtle is no housepet such as your dog or my cat.
She lived long, the timekeeper, as timekeepers do. She lived long, and she waited for the one who would become her apprentice. And in time, a shorter time than she had expected, a mother and a father brought their daughter to her. “She wishes to apprentice herself to you,” said the mother, gesturing to her very young daughter.
So there was this prompt a while back from a list of “AUs
for when your OTP are both assholes”: “Shouting match over the last
Thanksgiving turkey at the grocery store AU.” Which would, in the natural
course of things, lead to…
“Blame Typey,” I believe a common expression goes. More-appropriate
words were never spoken, as it’s Typey’s fault that these two ideas were put
together, and thus it is also her fault that I give you:
“Here, turkey, turkey, turkey,” Myka muttered. Some kind of
supermarket theory probably dictated why you always had to hike all the way to
the back of the store to get to the meat department. Some kind of annoying supermarket theory that didn’t
take into account the fact that it might be Thanksgiving and you might have,
oh, eight people showing up at your place in not very many hours, and you would
have been ready for that if you hadn’t been held up for almost thirty hours in the Phoenix airport and
just got home this morning. Anyone with any sense would’ve just rented a car
and driven home to Colorado Springs (only a twelve hour drive!), or bought a
new ticket and flown to Denver and then driven (an hour and a half!). But oh
no, she’d been stubborn. In an airport on the day before Thanksgiving, she’d
decided to be stubborn.
Fine, then: now she was going to keep on being stubborn,
keep on and make Thanksgiving dinner at my
house like I said I would. She added a “damn right I am” at the end of
that, as mulish punctuation.
And there at last was the big freezer, shining like… like
the extremely shiny thing it was. No time for flowery language; she was on a
mission. She looked down into the case, and just for her, wedged all alone in
the back corner, forlorn and most likely freezer-burned, was Myka’s turkey.
“Thanks for waiting,” Myka told it. Finally, finally, finally, she was going to be able to get this holiday back on
track. She reached down for her prize, this turkey that had so steadfastly held
its position, watching its friends bought by happy holiday shoppers over the
past week, knowing perfectly well all the while that Myka was on her way. And
so now, home to defrost, then cook, then serve (slightly late, but excusably
so, given the airport situation) this sine qua non of the holiday meal. She
would show everybody, particularly her mother and father, that she was perfectly capable—
“I beg your pardon,” she heard, right next to her ear: a
woman’s voice, low and extremely appealing, and was that a British accent? Myka
could have sworn she could even feel breath on her neck. A voice, and warm
breath, and she dropped the turkey, which landed with a crunch back into the
veritable snowbank of ice crystals in the bottom of the freezer.