Janet’s family moves. Shortly after, she and her friends head to the music competition. She’s glad for the spotlight, because she can’t see the audience.
In the middle, the chorus did a short instrumental, imitating guitar, bass and drums. Janet, Ramona and Bunny swayed, dancing to the music. Once again, their voices joined the others as the song wound to a close.
The song finished and silence followed. No one clapped, there was nothing. For the space of three surprised breaths, no one did anything. Janet and the others panicked. Had it been that bad?
Suddenly, the judges stood, clapping and smiling. The entire auditorium rose to its collective feet, cheering and applauding loudly. Pandemonium followed for several minutes. Finally, the MC came out of stage and got the attention of everyone. The room quieted eventually and everyone sat down.
“That concludes today’s contest. The judges will convene to make their choices. We’ll meet back here in thirty minutes.”
The chorus filed off the stage and the auditorium emptied slowly. Everywhere they went during the break, people were talking about them. Some furtively, as if jealous, the rest obviously impressed. Janet and her friends were in the bathroom. Standing by the sinks, they were surprised when girls from another chorus came up to them.
“Weren’t you the ones singing just now?” one girl said.
“Yes, that was us,” Bunny replied, obviously worried they were going to get in a fight.
“That was so fabulous!” the girl said.
The others joined in, congratulating them.
“If you don’t get first place, it will be totally wrong,” the girl concluded.
“Thank you. Your group was really good too,” Janet said, glad she could say that honestly.
“I thought we had a chance at winning,” the other girl said. “But you really deserve it.”
“Thank you. I hope you place too.”
The lights blinked, calling them back to the auditorium. They filed back in, taking their places. The judges were on stage with the MC. All of them were smiling. The MC stepped forward. He introduced the judges and handed the microphone to the leading judge. He smiled and took the microphone.
“Let me say first that this was one of the best contests I’ve ever judged. You’ve obviously worked very hard. With that being said, it was very difficult making the final choices.”
Each judge took a category, giving the results. Starting with Honorary Mention, they worked their way up. Finally, the head judge took the microphone.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt as to who got first place,” he said, making eye contact with Janet. “I wanted to tell this year’s winners that was the most unique performance I’ve ever heard. First place goes to Scottsbluff Senior High School!”
The entire auditorium leaped to its feet, clapping and cheering as Mr. Carter went on stage to take the award. A substantial check went along with the huge trophy.
The judge handed Mr. Carter the microphone. “I want to thank all of you for your kind words and compliments. The competition this year was fierce, and I’m proud to be part of this. The ones who really earned and deserve this award, are my students. This was their idea, they came up with the parts and perfected them. I simply stood back in awe.” He clapped for his students.
Finally, the noise died down and everyone went back to their motel rooms before dinner. Thrilled and exhausted, Janet and the others got on their bus.
“Wait until I tell Mom,” Ramona said. “She’ll be so proud!”
“That was one of the greatest moments of my life,” Diego declared loudly. “Only one other was better,” he added very quietly to Janet.
“Only one,” she agreed.
©2020 Dellani Oakes