Don't Giggle Into the Microphone

By Leah Stephens, period 4

"Good luck, Leah," chorus my friends. Following the rest of the class, they file down the short stairway and into the Kenai auditorium. I scream in my head as they disappear into the purple mass. In a few minutes, I am going to walk onto the stage all by myself. On the stage all by myself, I am going to sing a song called "How are Things in Glocca Morra." All by my lonesome.

I had practiced this song in my basement for weeks but wouldn't sing a note if any family member was in the house. For thirty minutes right after school, I would huddle in the biggest blanket I had. The cassette tape had confused me at first, because there was no skip button, only fast forward and rewind (I eventually found out). I would try not to squeak on the higher notes and keep a close watch for spiders all at once. Oh, and I couldn't begin to count how many times I went through the dreadful song.

As I look onto the stage, I see the soloist ahead of me take their bow and walk off into the darkness across from me. I step gracelessly into view with my purple robe billowing behind me. The unnamed yellow thing draped around my neck slowly starts to choke me. Mrs. Bird, oblivious to my plight, begins to elaborate on my solo.

Glocca Morra was a song based on a daughter and her father moving from Ireland to America during a The Great Potato Blight (or whatever it was called). Mrs. Bird had tried to explain it to me when I had first received the solo. I had to listen, but only managed to look like I was. I was too traumatized by the length of the song. There was, it seemed, and infinite number of verses. Worst of all, there was repeats. I hated repeats. Hated them with a burning passion. They were beyond my mental capabilities. In band or choir, I would always miss the repeat totally, go to the wrong ending, or manage to do something else incredibly brainless.

Tiny steps kept me from tripping off the stage and I reached the piano all too soon. Mrs. Bird smiled at me kindly and wrapped up her explanation.

Before returning to the piano, she says, "Here is Leah Stephens, singing How Are Things in Glocca Morra." The audience claps and I mentally run through my check list of embarrassing things I should not do.

"And does she walk away, sa-" Mrs. Bird stopped playing the piano and I let my hand holding the microphone drop to my side. I twitched as I recalled my blatant mistake. I was just practicing, so it didn't matter too much. But if I did that at the concert, imagine what would happen.

Say he, not she. Say he, not she, I chant to myself. Check. Watch out for microphone cord. I pull the microphone of the stand without incident. Again, check. I look down at my toes to gather what sanity I have left. Don't look like a deer in headlights, Leah. I hope my face won't contort into some monstrous form. Glancing up, I am blinded by the stage lights and stare idiotically at the crowd. My death of fright will be viewed by at least a hundred parents and a mob of students.

Slouching, I waited to practice my song with Mrs. Bird. She commented on my posture, telling me to stand up straighter for the concert, and how it would give me better air support. Yeah… no. I didn't believe her but straightened my spine and looked toward the back of the choir room like the good girl I was. I get a gold star!

I squeeze the microphone in a death grip and take a deep breath. It did nothing for my pulse, which must have reached 300. Mrs. Bird, my accompanist, starts the song. I try to focus on the music. I take more deep breathes. I imagine the audience in polka dot underwear. Nothing calms me down. The spectators of my emotional collapse sit quietly in their seats.

"I hear a bird, Londonderry bird…" I sing the first verse without a single mistake, thank goodness. The second verse is only okay. I took a gasp-like breath during a rest and accidentally skip the first repeat. My brain exploded with panic and I was the deer about to be run over. I look over at Mrs. Bird and she uses whatever mind powers teachers have (that's how they tell when you're passing notes). She keeps playing and I continue with the next verse.

"Moorraaaaaaa," I squeaked. Down in the basement, the missed note is muffled. My musical half commits suicide at the horrible sound. I had squeaked much too much on the evil high F and I knew that the possessed note was created to make trouble.

Even though I miss the repeat, I am okay and everything is well and I am still standing and I haven't sacrificed my dinner to wooden stage beneath my feet. I have the F twice throughout the entire song, right before a repeat. The first one was only a few measures away and I am confident. Four notes before, it all trickles out my ears. Three notes before, I tell myself it well be fine. Two notes before, I am the Little Train that Could, rolling backwards down a huge hill with a cliff at the bottem. One note before, everything is blank. The F. I can almost hear the death march when I don't even try to sing the note. Instead, I bend my head. My hair, pulled perfectly behind my ears before the concert, falls around my face. Once again I am looking down at my toes. The microphone is still on and still inches away from my mouth. I am overloaded with terror. I giggle. The small noise, amplified who knows how many times, is played through all the speakers in the enormous auditorium.

Rest in Peace.