Geraldine thrust out her hand. “Bring me The Marshmallow.”

An electric wave rippled through the assembled percussionists. The Marshmallow! It had the ring of a holy relic to it. Deerton High could barely afford toilet paper, let alone fine instruments for its marching and concert bands; whatever funds bubbled up tended to be allocated for new sports uniforms in the vague hope that they could lead the team to a position higher than 38th out of 40 in the division. The last band allocation, five years ago, has mostly gone toward renegotiating the terms of instrument rentals, but $100 had been earmarked for percussion, and out of that had come eight new drum heads and The Marshmallow.

Nejm removed The Marshmallow from its protective drawer and placed it reverently in Geraldine’s outstretched mitt. A genuine Ludwig-brand bass drum mallet, it had the appearance of a fresh ‘mallow on an abnormally thick spit, prime for roasting. The first thump of the drum resounded throughout the room, and impressed both factions of drummers into silence. The Classicists never ceased to be amazed at how much fuller and more mature The Marshmallow’s sound was compared to the usual instrument (an old mismatched timpani mallet with a head of duct tape and paper towels), while the Rockers–for whom a bass was something to be kicked until its head broke–imagined what decibels The Marshmallow could accomplish if affixed to a drum set.

Geraldine nodded curtly. The Marshmallow had its intended effect.