I glimpse parents and grandparents, Kodaks poised as they sit crunched knees to backs in folding chairs.
The band plays. I turn sheets on the stand.
It slips through my hands like a silk scarf, hitting the floor with a crack audible over the heavy thud of the bass drum. One black piece rolls beneath the oboist’s chair. The other rests next to my left penny loafer.
I reach down behind a tangled curtain of long hair, retrieve the pieces and hold them together with sweaty hands, pretending to play, blowing empty air. Music notes blur through the welling.
Stealing a look at the audience, I seek out my father. I know where he’s standing. He leans against the painted cinder-block wall at the back of the cafeteria, arms crossed over his chest.
I walk toward the back of the room, weaving in and out of parents and children embracing, a half of broken clarinet in each hand. When I finally make it back to where he still stands with arms crossed, I hold the pieces out to my father.
He reaches out. And pulls me in.
Do you ever remember a time when you received unexpected grace?