September’s prompt: Write about a character whose one ability is to amplify the best traits in others. Who would they hang around? Who would they choose to avoid? This week’s story is by CaraMarie Christy.
A Cute Story For People Who Don’t Like Rap
There is a world where everyone in it can sing. It is a planet that used to be called Earth, but then a bug infected all the non-singers and they diead. Everyone left can sing. They don’t sing all the time, that would be awful. However, most of the time, when its citizens pause over morning coffee on their porches or sit to read a book, in the land of Alto, there is a hum in the background. Someone, somewhere, will be singing gently as they paint a fence or clipping coupons, admiring the beautiful rise and fall of their voice. It’s like living in a world where all you eat is cake. Everything is sweet, but eventually cake starts to become ordinary. Only grand cakes, like the type with expensive fillings, become interesting.
Which is why, in Alto, it is very common for people who can sing—but not as well as a professional operatic singer—to be considered “bad” at singing. In our world, they might be considered “nice” or “good for a pleasant night of karaoke”, but they will never compare to the likes of Whitney Houston.
Because the notes out of her throat were only “good”, never great, and she was a boring piece of cake, Melody Hymn dreaded going to chorus class. She stuck out. Half of her class period, Mrs. Solo, her teacher, spent more time with the soprano section in which Melody was stuck, trying to make her sound as pleasant as everyone else, than any other section. Like the teacher was trying to smooth out a stubborn wrinkle. Melody knew that she was that wrinkle.
Nothing was going to change that, not even when the great Octave Song, three-time champion of their district’s annual concert, transferred into her school.
Mrs. Song almost melted when Octave walked into class. She pointed her to a spot on the chorus room’s risers beside Melody. The small, pixie girl looked up at Melody and smiled but Melody tucked her head to her chin, staring at invisible dust on her converse. This was how Mrs. Solo was going to fix her wrinkle, by pairing her best student up with the worst. She had already tried pairing Melody with Star Vocal, hoping Star would rub off on her. It had only lead to Star’s parents calling the school and forcing a conference. The next morning Star was moved far away from Melody.
They started their lesson on an acapella piece, Maroon Five’s “She Will Be Loved”, an ancient piece that few people on Alto could remember anymore. It was their attempt to bore the audience, Melody thought. Melody did her best to keep her voice low and soft, but Octave was so much smaller than her. The singer’s ear was almost exactly at the height of Melody’s mouth.
While Mrs. Solo was scolding the bass’s for missing a note, Octave whispered to Melody, “You have a very interesting tone, you know? I quite admire your breathing technique. And you have a lot of power in your voice that you hold back from using. Don’t be shy.”
“Thanks?” Melody didn’t know what to do with a compliment on her singing. She was afraid it was sarcasm, but Octave’s eyes were too bright. Melody added, “Sometimes I like to figure out what the difference between shouting and singing is when I’m in the shower. My mother hates it.”
“People are dumb. There is all types of singing—not just pretty singing. There’s cool singing. And then there’s things that are almost just like singing, but different.”
Despite her reluctance at making Octave’s friendship, Melody found being complimented hard to resist. She was also fond of the fact that, when Mrs. Solo saw Octave stopping to talk to Melody after rehearsals, that her choral teacher began to leave her alone.
“Why don’t you help out someone like Star instead of me?” Melody asked at lunch.
“Because I could try and make her better all day, but I don’t think she’d listen to me. Do you? I could teach her to fix the tremor in her voice when she reaches the high notes, fix her hectic breathing patterns… But I don’t want to.” Octave shrugged and smiled.
When the school talent show came up, Melody was surprised that Octave had somehow convinced her to sign up. It happened while they were searching the school’s music archives. They had stumbled upon a rare piece of music, a strange form of “almost” singing. Mrs. Solo, Star, and Melody’s mother were shocked when Melody went up on stage and took the mic.
“Hello, my name is Melody Hymn, and I’ll be singing Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’.”
The Spot Writers—Our Members:
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com
CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/