I look down at the page. The lines make me feel lightheaded. A small sound escapes my mouth. Definitely not the note I was supposed to sing. I press a key on the piano again to get the pitch. D major. Got it. I sang the note but it was so off. I cringed at the sound of my own voice. “Eliza!” My mom called from downstairs. I turned off my keyboard and replied, “Coming, ma!” I rushed down the stairs where she waited. She kissed me on the cheek and said, “You’ve gotta get to school.” I nodded my head and went out the door. My bicycle waited patiently for me in the garage. I hopped on and rode to school.


***


          At school, my friends all gathered around my table in math class. They all talked about the talent show. I kept quiet, not wanting them to ask me anything. My best friend, Kara, knew what was going on. I glanced over at her but she was already staring at me. I knew she was worried. I got up from my table to sharpen my already sharp pencil. I just needed some time. I would get there.


***


          Music was great today. Mrs. Gillord let me play the piano while they other kids sang. I played and played. Mrs. GIllord clapped at the end. “Brava, brava!” She hollered. I smiled from ear to ear. The kids also clapped. I popped my knuckles and started again.


***


          The keyboard at my house was all messed up. I had been using since I was 5. There were stickers on the keys that indicated what note it was. I tried my hardest to scrape them off but they had become one with the keyboard. I played the piece I was supposed to and sang my part. It came out as horrible, sharp squeals. I shook my head and tried again. The music was beautiful but my throat felt so raw when I was done. I grabbed a drink of water and continued to play.


***


          My mother came in and sang while I accompanied her on the piano. Her voice was smooth and lovely. As soft as rose petals and flowed from her mouth like a stream. I tried so hard to be like her. To make my voice sound as eloquent as hers. She sang every note correctly and even did runs. I stared at her in awe when she was finished. She just smiled warmly at me and said, “Practice makes perfect.” I nodded my head and turned off the keyboard. That was enough for today.


***


          The talent show was coming up in three weeks and my voice did nothing more but sound scratchy. I looked up videos on how to make my voice flow and get to every note with ease but everything I tried failed miserably. The friends in my group for the show all sang and showed off while I stayed in the back, playing the piano. Every time they would ask me if I could sing my part, I insisted that I hadn’t learned it yet and that my main focus was the piano. They all rolled their eyes at me and started up again. I felt awful for letting down my friends but I just couldn’t do it. “Maybe you should ask someone else to sing it while you play the piano,” Kara suggested while we were doing homework one day. She had an amazing idea that I could not waste. I hugged her and yelled, “Oh, my goodness, Kara! You’re spectacular!” She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I know.” 


***


          When I asked the people in my group this question they all stared at me. “Why?” One kid asked. I didn’t want to lie so I just told them the truth. “I can’t sing and I don’t want to ruin your performance. I can just accompany you on the piano,” I say. They all shake their heads. I feel horrible. I knew I had let them down. Luckily, they had more people wanting to join so they picked the best singer there to play the part. 


***


          When practicing with my group, they sounded wonderful. I played the piano and Mrs. Gillord watched us. She was giving us opinions from a judge’s point of view. We all listened contently. She looked over at me and pointed. “This one right here. She need to be heard. If you have to lower your voiced for that then so be it.” I gushed at how Mrs. Gillord was talking about me. The rest of the group rolled their eyes at me and rehearsed. Their quiet singing made my piano playing undeniably beautiful. When we finished, Mrs. Gillord’s eyes widened and she smiled. “That was wonderful!.” We all laughed and played the song one more time.


***


          At the talent show, we all were nervous for our performance. I was warming up when the lead singer from our group came up to me and said solemnly, “You have to perform. Your backup has strep throat. Don’t ruin it.” I felt my heart crashing. This was not apart of the plan. We were definitely not going to win with me singing. I began sweating and my palms were clammy. We were in for a rough night.


***


          On the stage, I was shaking. Not ready for what was about to happen. I take a few deep breaths. In and out. The curtains open and begin playing. Beads of sweat accumulate on my forehead. My part was almost up. When it was my turn to sing, I was quiet. I had stopped playing and my hands were hovering over the keys. People stared at me. One of the singers from my group started singing my part. I snapped out of the trans I was in and started playing again. I knew my peers would be upset with me. I would just have to deal with it.


***


          When our turn was over, everyone from my group started stomping towards me. I was scared. “What did you do?” One asked, angrily. Another got in my face and screamed, “You ruined us!” I nodded my head and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. Gillord walking over to us. “Ladies, that was lovely,” she said. I looked up at her curiously. Why did she think that? She saw me freeze up, didn’t she? One of the kids in my group was obviously thinking the same thing. “What do you mean?” She questioned. Mrs. Gillord grinned. “Well adding the pause just made that act twenty times better!” She exclaimed. Everyone in my group stared at her in awe. They all turned and walked away, talking about how well they did. Mrs. Gillord winked at me and turned and walked the other direction.



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1 like 1 comment

07:44 Nov 21, 2019

Hi, I received an email from the critique circle. I liked your story. It kept me intrigued. The flow was nice, the character well flushed out. Nice work, good luck in the contest. If only you can see this please let me know, I want to add something in private. Thank you.

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