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Drama Teens & Young Adult Fiction

“Listen,” Charlie said quietly. A mere whisper. His head was bent to the floor. Focusing with such intensity that transformed his whole body. His eyes were squinted shut, his legs dangling to the rhythm of what seemed to explode from the floor beneath. His lips moved, trying to imitate what was being heard. He failed to carry a single note. The sound was loud enough yet it didn’t stir feelings of irritation or displeasure. Rather the opposite.

If I was Charlie, I would do the same thing. I am not. I am Savanah. A woman whom I would say too uppity to be overtaken by the power of music. I sat there and breathed steadily. I longed to inhale the sound. Keep it forever. Suddenly the sound stopped. I would have been angry but for what? I was the cause for the intrusion of silence.

***

I reached in my mind to a time simpler. I found one and snatched it out. It was a particular day in the evening. My mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner and the performance of her lifetime. She sang from where no human would ever see. I watched. Eyes opened and intensified. The sweet pitches flowed effortlessly out of her mouth like the breaking forth of a river dam. Loud and voluminous but not arrogant. A voice that lurked and echoed into every corner of the house.

Everyone knew my mother loved to sing and loved her for it.  

To my dismay she would do this rarely. Only when she was preparing dinner. The occasion never could appear otherwise. Her life too laborious to allow any other activities she told me once.

When the time did present itself, I would make my way to the kitchen imagining I was at her concert. I would straggle a chair to the kitchen counter picturing I had front row tickets. My mother would begin. She would smile at me and sing whilst she cooked, always finishing right before it was time to eat.

I have never known even till now what I found most sweet. My mother’s cooking or the sound of her voice. Her beautiful voice.

***

“You pompous little…” before Charlie was finished, I stopped him midway.

“You stop right there. You don’t get to say that you don’t …”  I had yelled out so loud my brain became clouded, and I lost train of thought.

Charlie’s perky green eyes stared at me. His eyes were confused and taken back. I let my guard down, unsure of what he was to do or say next.

Charlie did what he always did. He got up and pressed up next to me. His hairy calloused hands lingered in an attempt to hold mine. I lay my hands in his. He pushed me more closely into him. I did not resist. My head in his chest. My ear lodged against his pounding heart. I listened for our hearts to beat at the same time. They almost did but not quite. My heart a little quicker than his. That was alright though. Nothing was perfect.

***

Another moment flashed in my brain, momentarily entering the last few moments of my first school concert. I bellowed through the hall and the hearts of the people. My parents melting with pride. I was singing a song I had wrote a few weeks ago about my dog who had passed away. I was singing the last lines.

I love you for you are so near.

When I look I forget you are not here.

I held the last word longer than it truly needed. When I finished a thunderous applause soon caught momentum. Too loud for a mere five-year-old. Everyone on the other hand assured me that my voice was way beyond my years.

***

“You are telling me someone sang better than she did. Really Savanah?” I listened to his voice from his chest. It was non-provoking, yet I felt provoked anyway.

“Well, we audition a lot of people and truly it’s a one-time opportunity. She didn’t bring her all.”

Charlie moved away a little bit. Not intentionally but through passion of emotions.

“You mean to say that what we just heard wasn’t good enough?”

The words stung in my head. I waited for my own response to shed some light.

“It’s not that she can’t sing. I know what I felt now, and I know what I felt then. Two different things.”

Charlie backed down a little. “I know you. I’ve been married to you for eleven years. If you didn’t hear what you didn’t hear I believe you.’ He suddenly changed tone and subject. ‘I’m hungry do you want some Chinese? It’s been a long day for both of us.”

“Yeah sure,” I say. The rest of the sounds that rang through the flat were confident orders of noodles, rice, prawn crackers and goujons that were estimated to take about 20 minutes.

My husband struggled out of my grasp to turn the TV on. “NCIS?”

“Yes,” I say with a standard nod. We wrestle back into our cuddling positions, relaxing peacefully to sounds of gunshots, crime, and suspense.

***

My brain rumbles through the years in a quicker succession. It takes me through years of paid vocal training lessons from my music teacher Mrs Hayes. She taught me almost everything I know. She also made it a point to push me far beyond my limit. This she did to such an extent that I felt limitless in every song she threw at me. She made it a severe point to make me sing one of my original songs. I did. None of them failing in pursuit to drive her to tears. “Tears of joy” she would always say.

Faster pictures floated through my head. The more recent memories. Me graduating officially becoming fully educated as well as unemployed. Me sat in an apartment taking hard earned money from my parents to make ends meet.

Another agonizing moment blew into focus. I had rung my parents only last week. I had sobbed to them, telling them how sorry I was.

My parents echoed only feelings of love and joy. Expectancy that I would make it out in the world. My audition they hoped would be the break I needed.

The dream audition was no more. I had blown it.

***

With the Chinese finished we made quick headway of the dishes and descended unto the master bed. Exhausted.

Charlie was always exhausted from work. He would come back with clumps of wood in his long wavy red hair. His clothes in mountains of sawdust. He was a carpenter. The best I’ve ever known, making a piece of wood become a family treasure. His face always animated with life when he would tell me of all the masterpieces he had created. The talk of tables, cupboards and dressers may seem boring to the dull ear. To him it translated a state of happiness. I was happy he was happy.

I worked for a company formed quite recently, roughly a decade ago. Their mission, to find new singers of our generation. The nation cried out for passionate singing than the robotic and polished sounds the industry had created.

Every 2 years we would hold auditions which lasted for a week. Everyone from anywhere could come. If you were really good you would get signed to one of our record labels. You would be asked to sign a contract. Right on the spot. If not, you would be asked to leave, dashed hopes and a dream barely intact.

One chance was the only condition. The company felt it would be a more realistic way to get through thousands of singers. It was true. In roughly a day we would meet 500 people. Only 10 would get signed.

Today was the end of the last day. I was grateful for it. I slept next to my husband whose head quickly hit the pillow. Soon followed loud snores which blanketed the room. I turned off the lights. My head in a drift, thinking back to that one audition.

***

The moment. The only memory I wish I could forget kept coming to me again and again. The moment of today.

***

She knew she had blown it. I felt it in her demeanour. She shrank right before my eyes. Something about her shrinking into herself made me think she had more to give. It was too late now.

Her singing capability was good. You could say she had it all. Good range. Check. Breath control was good. Check. Style and genre. Check. All the boxes were ticked. The panel seemed confident of their decision. I on the other hand was not. There was one box she had left out completely.

***

I had sung so effortlessly. Every part of me wanting this so bad. I hadn’t made it they told me. I was sent back home. Shaken. Singing the only song, I knew would bring me comfort.

***

We politely said she hadn’t made it and sent her on her way. Her shoulders falling despairingly downward, all hope seem to be taken from her. She thanked us for the opportunity and left. This is the very first audition I felt that a dream was crushed.

It wasn’t her singing ability that pulled me away from her. It was the fact that she had sang a song so well without any word being heartfelt. Almost as if she had removed herself from that feeling. Almost as if she was unaware. Passion slowly dying. The realities of life ramming her into a tight spot financially. No need to sing with the heart. Just sing enough to make it through. That was the vibe I got from her.

***

I was singing so loudly. The way I remember my mom used to sing in the kitchen. I suddenly stopped. I remembered the face. The face that had sent me home.

***

To think now that she lived right underneath us. Right under our noses. That voice too distinctive not to remember. It’s strange how our paths had only crossed today. Today of all days. I was aware how awkward things would be now. I wished I could have said yes.

I had to have faith that there would be opportunities for her. She was a talented girl.

If only she would have sung the song Charlie and I heard her sing. A bit cheesy but well versed and written. I laid down to sleep and pictured her sing the last note. The one I feel she held way longer than she needed. I almost felt like clapping ecstatically. I resisted the temptation.

November 11, 2021 14:02

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