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Middle School High School Inspirational

Theresa began sixth grade at a school that had a choir, and she found she preferred standing around a piano singing scales to sitting in an uncomfortable desk taking the notes of a boring lecture. She had never belted out her voice before, or felt the cool vibrations that filled her head, face, and body when she sang out loud. She thought she sounded just like Whitney Houston. This was not the case. Neither her pitch, nor rhythm, was exceptionally good. So, when the time came to audition for parts, Theresa was given an alto part instead of a soprano one with the solo. This did not discourage her though. She just planned to practice harder and sing even louder, and she would get the solo next time!


Well sixth, seventh, and eighth grades came and went, and next time never came. Theresa never left the altos, let alone got a solo part. She was beginning to get disheartened at this point. That, and it was time to start ninth grade – at a new high school. Not achieving the goal she set for herself hurt her feelings tremendously. She just couldn’t understand why, after all this time, the voice that sounded so good to her was never picked for any solos. The confidence she had in those first days of choir was gone, and what moped around now was a shy, empty shell of her former self; one that doubted her abilities and bullied herself over failures. Most auditions she told herself she wouldn’t get the part anyway, long before she went in, and wouldn’t you know - she never got the parts.


Starting a new school is always difficult, but even more so when an emotional wound is forming. Rejection seems to compound all the jitters and anxiety one would normally feel, and Theresa found it hard to look people in the eye or speak in a voice that was loud enough to be heard more than a few feet away. Her self-esteem was waning, and the singing that used to bring her so much joy was now just a pit of competition and comparison that stole her joy instead. Despite all this, she still held hope that one day the world would hear her voice as she beautifully as she heard it. So, when it was time to pick her arts class, she again chose the choir class she loved so much. It was a new school and a fresh start after all. This would definitely be the year she got all the solos!


The music department that semester was putting on a Fall Talent Show and Theresa picked out the song she was going to sing at the audition - then practiced and practiced it until she had it perfect. Devastated, as you can imagine she was, when she ran her finger down the list and failed to find her name among the chosen performers. She started having trouble breathing when that set in, and barely made it out of the back door and behind the nearest tree before she burst into tears. She had officially lost all her hope. She so wanted the praise she saw others getting, to see her name printed as a soloist - to be the star of the show! That day was never coming for her though. She just had to face the facts. She was worthless, her voice was terrible, and nobody was ever going to make a fuss over of her talents. With all that decided, she collected herself as best she could, put on a brave face, and returned to the auditorium. There she found the students breaking up into groups. The singers going off to practice with their accompanists while the rest figured out what to do as far as the scenery. There would be no microphone for Theresa today, only a paintbrush!


 For two weeks she watched the singers go another way to practice while she sanded, painted, lifted sets, sewed patches, and anything else that was needed to be done. Most important was installing the twelve large trees that formed the backdrop of the stage. Trees the set crew built with special clamps all over the branches they could control from the lighting booth. The clamps would hold hundreds of construction paper leaves that the crew would open, releasing the leaves to fall, one by one, throughout the entire show. So, by the end, the trees would all be bare. It was a big part of the theme to show fall become winter. Once all the trees were in place, the director gave everyone leaf templates and several stacks of yellow, orange, and brown construction paper to take home, draw, and cut out as many leaves as possible. It was two days before the show, so the director was counting on everyone to do their part to make the hundreds of leaves necessary to cover all the trees.


Since Theresa had very good focus, and liked doing most any artistic project, she rather enjoyed spending her evening drawing and cutting out twenty leaves from the paper she was given. The next day she got to choir class and found out many of the other students did not do the work they were supposed to, and there was hardly enough leaves to cover one tree - let alone twelve! The director was upset and had the whole class use the rest of the hour to cut out more leaves. However, when the bell rang, they were still far short of the amount that was needed. The director again handed out stacks of paper and templates to the exiting students, reminding each of them how important the leaf-making was and how dramatic their falling would be in the show. Knowing how important the leaves were to the director, Theresa waited until all the students were gone to ask her how many more leaves still needed to be made. The director scanned the pile on her desk reporting they needed about two hundred more, and that she planned to make as many as she could herself that night. This was it. The leaves had to be in place early next morning because the show started at eleven. She decided that although she couldn't help the director by singing a solo, she could by making leaves. With that, she asked the director for the rest of the templates and construction paper. She was going to have those leaves ready by tomorrow morning, even if it took all night to get it done!  


After homework and dinner, Theresa shut herself in her room and made leaf, after leaf, after leaf. By the time her mom said it was bedtime, she had gotten thirty done. She had no plans to go to bed though. She just turned out the lights, slipped between the covers, rolled over, and waited to hear her mom poke her head in to check on her. After the door creaked open and closed, she counted to one hundred slowly to give her mom time enough to get to her bedroom. As soon as she made it to a hundred, Theresa hopped out of bed and switched on the battery powered lantern she used when she camped out in the backyard. There, in the soft glow of the lantern, she got to work drawing and cutting out as many multicolored leaves as she could. Some time, well after midnight, she woke up to find herself slumped over her desk with leaves all over her, the desk, and floor. She had no idea how long she had been sleeping like that, but by the estimate of the leaves she saw scattered about, she must have certainly gotten close to two hundred. Regardless, she simply couldn’t hold her head up a second more - whatever she got done would have to be enough. With that, she turned off the lantern and dropped into bed. The six o’clock alarm would go off way too soon that morning!


Still groggy from the night before, she dismissed her mom asking if she was feeling OK. Just then she heard the bus pull up, so she checked her backpack one last time to make sure the bag of leaves was inside, then zipped it up. First thing Theresa did when she got to school was head to the auditorium to find the director, whom she found even more stressed out than yesterday. The students had again only brought in a few more leaves compared to the hundreds still needed. To this day, Theresa still remembers the astonished look on the director’s face when she handed her the bag of leaves. She was beside herself realizing she had all the leaves they needed. Her look of happiness and big bear hug are ones Theresa will never forget. The director quickly got the crew together to start clipping the leaves on the trees, and I went to my first period class. Soon the bell rang, and it was time for the Fall Talent Show to begin. The hallways became cacophonous with every student in school making their way to the auditorium to find seats near their friends. Theresa’s greatest joy in life would come at the end - after all the leaves she made fell so gracefully throughout the performances. Leaves that turned out to be the highlight of the show! It came after the curtain closed and the director approached the mic. She would go on to thank the performers, crew, and many others more, but the last thing she said was, “Now I want to thank the person for whom this show would not have been possible, and that is Ms. Theresa Sullivan. Theresa would you please stand up.” It seemed to take an eternity for Theresa to comprehend what she just heard, but as soon as she wobbled to her unsure feet, a spotlight fixed on her and the auditorium promptly roared to life in her honor. It sounded just like she imagined it would! Theresa finally got her solo, albeit not in the way she expected, but it was nonetheless well worth the wait.

October 11, 2020 22:28

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2 comments

Amy Utami
20:23 Oct 23, 2020

It was so great! I can feel the depression of failure. It feels like its mine. I love the way you twist the story. I feel so personal to this story. The story was different from what I experienced, but the feeling and the emotion was just the same. Congrats! for writing such an amazing story.

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K. Antonio
11:24 Oct 20, 2020

I think the story has a lot of potential. Technically it's very sound and the grammar is pretty good. The only thing that really bothered me was the size of the paragraphs, They were really long, containing a lot of information, that maybe could have been broken down into smaller "chunks". In my opinion, that would make the story easier to read and better the flow. I also felt that the second and third paragraph were a bit redundant, as if one of them could be eliminated entirely and we would still understand the foundation of this s...

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