Janet’s mother asks her about her date, happy that Janet had a good time. She finds herself thinking about Evander.
One thing Janet didn’t know was that she was still married to Janet’s father. She’d dated a few men, but none of them had ever been for her what Evander was; husband, lover, friend. He did for her what she saw Diego did for Janet. He filled in those little holes in her soul that had been gaping ever since.
She went in her room, shutting the door. For a time, she cried. Then she picked up the phone and made a call. The phone rang three times before a man’s voice answered.
“Hi,” she said, the tears threatening to fall again. “It’s me…. Can we talk?”
Sunday morning, Janet and her family headed to church for the early service. The high school choir was singing and she had the solo. Nervous, she walked back and forth across the end of the choir room. The wide window overlooked the parking lot two stories below. She rolled her neck and shook her arms, trying to relax.
The choir director walked in, smiling. She clapped her hands as she approached the piano. It was time for warm-ups. She played a chord and they began. Janet relaxed into the routine as they continued to sing. By the time warm-ups were over, she was feeling a little better.
They practiced their hymns and it was time to line up to go in. They processed from the rear of the church, so they had to go into the fellowship hall in the basement and come up the back stairs. Janet carried her folder, keeping to herself, not talking with her friends like she usually did.
Bunny came up beside her. “Are you okay?”
“No. I feel like throwing up.”
“You’ve done this a hundred times.”
“Not a cappella.”
“So? You’ve got perfect pitch. You’ll be fine. If it was me doing it, I’d panic. I can’t stay on pitch like you. You’re going to be great.”
“I wish I didn’t have half the service to worry about it. I want to get in and get it over with.”
“Swear to God, Janet. If you don’t calm down, I’ll clobber you.” Bunny teasingly punched her friend on the shoulder before rushing to take her place.
Janet followed, stepping into her spot in line as the organ began. The minister walked in first. He was followed by the lay minister. The choir came in next, in section order, tallest to shortest. Janet was last because she was a soloist and had to step out of the pew to stand beside the organ.
The service went by in a blur. Janet hardly paid any attention to it, waiting for her solo. Before she knew it, the director nodded to her. She stood, taking her place between the lectern and the organ. The director played her note very softly and Janet began to sing. The first note was faltering, but it added a warble to her voice that made it even prettier. It was then she glanced at the front row. Diego sat there beside her mother and sister, smiling encouragingly. He gave her a thumb’s up. Janet felt a surge of courage and her voice grew stronger.
“What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul? What wondrous love is this, oh my soul?”
She sang the first verse alone. On the chorus, the choir joined her, singing in eight part harmony, their voices blending into an intricate tapestry behind her. The song finished in silence. The quiet was interrupted by a unified sigh by everyone in the congregation. Sniffles and nose blowing followed.
The minister, lost in the music, took his time standing. Janet walked back to her seat. One of the young men in the bass section stepped forward to help her up the steps. He smiled, mouthing “Good job,” before sitting down.
“I believe that was the best this choir’s ever sung,” the minister said. “And I know it’s not customary to applaud, but in this instance, I don’t think God would mind.” He started clapping.
The entire congregation joined in. The director signaled them to stand and take a bow. They did so, sitting once more as the applause faded.
“I wish my message today were half as good as that song. I believe the lyrics say it all, What wondrous love is this.“
©2020 Dellani Oakes