Diego admits to Mr. Franks that he’s got a crush on Janet.
“And you’re finding it hard to think of her as a sister now.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry about daydreaming.”
“Show her to me some time. I’ll tell you if you deserve detention for it.” The older man laughed, nudging him. He wrote a note for Diego and sent him to class.
Diego’s final class of the day was chorus. He’d been singing since he was a child. He sang in the church choir and he and his buddies were putting together a band with him at the head. He took his usual seat in the tenor section, dropping his books under the chair.
The door opened and a group of girls entered. A bubbling laugh rose above the others, filling the room with a joyful sound. Diego recognized that laugh. Janet had just walked in the room with his sister and Bunny.
Giggling and talking, they went to the soprano section and sat down. None of them noticed him until Trina walked in and waved at him and then at them. Ramona waved at her brother. He smirked, saluting.
“Nice you noticed me, mi hermana.”
“I didn’t know you’d be in here,” she complained.
He chuckled, nodding. “Yeah, that’s a good excuse. Don’t embarrass me.”
Ramona stuck her tongue out at him. Trina giggled and sat in the alto section with some of her friends. The bell rang and the teacher came out of his office. He looked at the students on risers and smiled.
“Welcome, everyone. I’m Mr. Carter, chorus teacher. Shall we begin?” He gestured to one of the girls who took her place at the piano.
The girl played a chord and each section took their pitch. They began their vocal warm-up, going higher and higher until it was out of the range of most of the chorus. Only Ramona, Janet and Bunny could hit the notes. Mr. Carter nodded to the pianist, encouraging her to go on. Moments later, only one voice hit the high note—Janet.
Blushing, she hid her face as she realized that only she was singing. The entire class burst into applause, cheering for her.
“Wow!” Mr. Carter said with a huge grin. “That was amazing! What’s your name, young lady?”
Janet cleared her throat and told him in a soft voice.
Mr. Carter leaned forward. “Sorry?”
“Janet Yarkowsky,” she said loudly.
“And you other girls?” He nodded to Ramona and Bunny.
They introduced themselves.
“Have I got a song for you!” He laughed, clapping his hands excitedly. “We’ve got a competition coming up in October and it calls for three sopranos. Minimal music, just drums, and guitar, the rest is the vocals. I need one lead, two on harmony and the rest of the chorus behind.” He handed the pianist a piece of sheet music.
Her eyes brightened. “You’re kidding. For real?”
“What is it, Melanie?” Trina asked.
Instead of answering, the girl started to play. Janet immediately recognized it. She burst into song without thinking about it. It came as naturally to her as breathing. The music filled the hollow, empty places in her. She poured her heart into it, singing Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack.
One of the boys sidled over the the drum set and the men in the bass section improvised a bass line to go with her vocal. Her friends joined her on harmony. The rest sat in awe until they finished. For a moment, the room was silent, then it exploded with applause, cheers and feet pounding the risers.
Janet blushed again, realizing what she’d done. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
She hid her face in her hands until Mr. Carter came over to her. He took her hands, helping her stand.
“I don’t think we need to hold auditions for a vocalist, do you?” he appealed to the class.
The entire chorus clapped and cheered again.
“Way to go, Janet!” Trina yelled.
The rest of the room took up the call. Mr. Carter held her hand, encouraging her to take her bow. She did so shyly.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop it. I love that song,” she said to him. “I didn’t mean to mess up auditions.”
“You would have gotten it anyway,” he said quietly. “You have a beautiful voice.”
Finally, he let her sit down. The rest of class was spent discussing how they could take the song and blow the minds of the judges. Mr. Carter liked the bass section singing instead of using a guitar. He assigned each section the task of adding something new and interesting to the performance.
Diego raised his hand, calling Mr. Carter to the tenor section.
“I had an idea. If the bass section does their thing, we should have the tenors do percussion.”
The boys demonstrated, sounding like snare drums, cymbals and bongos. Mr. Carter’s eyes lit up.
“Impressive! I like it! Altos, my sweet ladies, what will you be doing?”
“Strings, guitar….” Trina said with a smile.
The sopranos decided on woodwinds. They also demonstrated. Mr. Carter was thrilled.
©2020 Dellani Oakes
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