Maureen had heard the arguments before, and had always stood firm against them, as she did again now.
“I really do think you’re making a mushroom cloud out of a molehill, Jo.” She said.
“I just really would feel more comfortable if you didn’t teach this particular student here at the house.” Josephine replied, fingers pinching the top of her nose, glasses in her hand.
“Well, where else is there? We can’t afford to lose the deposit on a hired space, you know that.”
“That’s just it, though, isn’t it? We can’t afford to keep replacing all of our own things, either.”
Maureen had a personal rule against asking questions she already knew the answer to. It was a behaviour she found frustrating in others. However, sometimes it was hard to avoid.
“What would you have me do, Jo? She’ll be here any minute. Should I refuse to answer the door?”
Josephine replaced her glasses, pushed them up to the top of her nose, and looked back at her, not answering. Maureen pressed on.
“I can’t just turn down paying students. They aren’t exactly bashing our door down, and we’d have even fewer if word got out that we reject any that are remotely… challenging.”
“Oh, come on, Mo. Eloise is hardly just ‘challenging’.”
“No, you come on. That young lady is one of the best students I have ever had. She is a damned prodigy – a natural musician, and a voice like an angel – and with the right guidance she will be able to go anywhere and achieve anything she wants.” To Maureen’s irritation Josephine rolled her eyes at this, but she pressed on. “She has it in her to eclipse us all. Any tutor would be an idiot to let such a talent pass her by. She is going to make the person lucky enough to be her mentor famous, and the truth of it is she requires barely any input from me, or whoever else that mentor ends up being.”
“She is an impressive girl, I’ll grant you.” Josephine allowed.
“She’s more than impressive. She has it in her to touch the world. To break the hearts of anyone who hears her play.”
“God knows, that’s part of the problem. Have you ever looked out of the window while the girl is playing the piano? Anyone in earshot, tears in their eyes, some of them wracked by sobs. It just isn’t practical, Mo.”
They were interrupted by the doorbell. Despite the distance between the kitchen and the front door, they lowered their voices, their words taking on more urgency.
“That’s her being dropped off. You know I have to do this, don’t you Jo?” Maureen stage-whispered, moving across the room. Josephine sighed, but relented.
“Okay, my love, look. Can we find a compromise? Piano or voice training, but never both in the same session? Uncontrollable weeping in the neighbourhood I can manage, but I need to prepare the house for the singing. The voice of an angel, indeed, but at some unheard register it destroys the more fragile things we’ve collected around us.”
“…We have a recital to prepare for, but perhaps for a discounted rate her parents would be willing to commit to double the lessons. I think that is probably acceptable.” Maureen diverted to kiss Josephine softly on the cheek. “Thankyou, Jo. You are wonderful.”
She slipped out of the room, and soon after Josephine heard muffled conversation at the door. She found a box of tissues, and settled at the breakfast bar with the dog-eared paperback that she was reading. Presently, the sound of their piano drifted through the house toward her, as played by one of God’s stranger creatures. Josephine drew a tissue, and tried to read.