Only the most elite of symphonies, with the most particular and snooty of players, can afford to hire page turners for its stars. Someone whose sole duty is to wait until two sheets worth of music are played, and then flip to the next part seamlessly. It’s a no-reward job, with even the best of turners only getting noticed when they mess up. Dry fingers, boredom and distracting spren all need to be avoided to make it through a performance.
Paige is a page turner with the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and she is often paired with a string virtuoso or the top brass. She plays the violin herself, and is actually quite skilled, but she doesn’t even connect this to how she ended up here. She doesn’t really venerate the performers like the other page turners, how it’s expected she will. She doesn’t aspire to one day be the player for whom the pages get turned by someone else, unlike the majority of her colleagues, who see the role only as a stepping stone in the company. She hasn’t truly connected with anyone she works with, likely because she finds that everyone around her is excessive in their perpetual quest for sonic perfection and precision. To Paige, this is just her job, and nothing more.
A few weeks into her third concert season, Paige arrives for work and the conductor points her towards a visiting harpist, whose music stand she will be posted at this week. In between the tuning of her instrument, the guest soloist introduces herself.
“Hi, I’m Joanna. Paige, right? I look forward to working with you.”
Paige chuckles and nods. For some reason, she instantly feels a connection between them.
“What is it?” Joanna asks curiously. “Do I have something on my face?” She wipes her face just in case.
“No, no, nothing like that. My name is actually Ellen.”
“Ohhh, so you go by a nickname? Did it come from Ellen Page?”
“No. What? No. When I first started…”
Flashback to Paige’s first day of work, two years earlier
First Violin: Hey! Someone! Where’s my page turner?
Ellen: Uh, oh, hi… I’m… page turner.
Ellen’s nervousness is evident in the softness of her response.
First Violin: Sorry, did you say something?
Second Violin: Paige Turner? That’s your actual name? Can’t be. (immediately stops paying attention to Ellen and walks towards a violist) Hey Toni, I got a good one for you.
Ellen is left alone, wondering where she should go.
First Violin: Oh, it was you all along! Paige Turner? Is that real?
Ellen: What? Oh, that. Well…
First Violin: Unbelievable. Go get my sheets. They’re downstairs. Thanks, Paige.
Flashforward an indeterminate amount of time
Joanna and Ellen have now been married for over fifty years. They live in a palatial estate with two horses and several goats. Ellen is very ill and isn’t expected to make it through the week. Before she dies, she has vowed to finish a tome she’s been reading sporadically for almost a decade. Unfortunately, her arthritis is preventing her from even the most basic use of her hands, and so Joanna spends most of the day in a chair by her side, turning Ellen’s pages, as Ellen had, a lifetime ago, for her.
[Editor’s note: I know you were all thinking there was some nominative determinism at play here, which is what necessitated the flashback. Unfortunately, as it stands, literary time travel is still in the early stages and the author neglected to bring us back to the day Ellen and Joanna met by citing a flashpresent. The flashforward took on a life of its own, and we lost a fairly important part of the story, which can never be recovered.]